Enid Blyton. Like all the greatest children’s book authors – Dahl, Seuss, Rowling – you only need to say her name to conjure up fantastic, vivid imagery, and can easily dive into a discussion with just about anyone over which series is the best (personally, I preferred her magical worlds of The Magic Faraway Tree, The Wishing Chair, and Noddy but I also loved The Naughtiest Girl). Ms Blyton’s writing is a childhood touchstone for so many of us, and as with all good children’s culture, it taught without being prescriptive or boring – you probably didn’t even notice that you were learning as you read. In which case, let’s take a look back at some of the things Enid Blyton taught us through her writing.
1. Teamwork makes the dream work
There are very few, if any, Blyton stories that don’t lean heavily on the positive power of working together with friends or siblings. Every time there was a crisis to handle, or a mystery to solve, a band of Blyton’s best were there, working together to save the day.
2. Friendships aren’t always immediate
Some of Blyton’s merry groups of friends appeared fully formed and ready for adventure, but occasional newcomers would appear from time to time, and show us that friendships don’t always happen right away, but if you give someone a chance, they could become a wonderful addition to your life, so don’t rush to make judgements.
Defining quote: “’You simply never know about people,’ thought Elizabeth. ‘You think because they are timid they’ll always be timid, or because they’re mean they’ll always be mean. But they can change awfully quickly if they are treated right.’”
3. Put your mind to it, and you can overcome anything
With the dizzying range of stories Blyton wove, her characters were in such diverse situations, but were always able to keep their chins firmly up and remain positive about their circumstances.
Defining quote:“The best way to treat obstacles is to use them as stepping-stones. Laugh at them, tread on them, and let them lead you to something better.”
4. You can’t run away from your problems
Blyton’s characters never dreamed of running away from life’s challenges – not even when they were scared.
Defining quote:“You’re trying to escape from your difficulties, and there never is any escaping from your difficulties, never. They have to be faced and fought.”
5. Allow yourself to grow and learn
With wisdom that many politicians could do with, Blyton showed that being persuaded to another way of thinking is not a bad thing, and should not be a source of shame or damaged pride.
Defining quote: “Make up your mind about things, by all means – but if something happens to show you that you are wrong, then it is feeble not to change your mind, Elizabeth. Only the strongest people have the pluck to change their minds, and say so, if they see they have been wrong in their ideas.”
6. The world isn’t always fair to children
Unfortunately, Blyton’s characters experienced their fair share of nastiness, but those incredibly patient children knew how to handle themselves (and the adults) to make sure all was put right in the end.
Defining quote: “It wasn’t a bit of good fighting grown-ups. They could do exactly as they liked.”
7. Picnics are the best meals
Blyton’s characters are forever having picnic lunches in the great outdoors. Baskets are packed with loaves of bread, bottles of ginger ale, and wedges of cheese, and these simple foods always sound so tasty and luxurious when enjoyed in the great outdoors, that it inspires readers to try it themselves.
Defining quote: “’I don’t know why, but the meals we have on picnics always taste so much nicer than the ones we have indoors,’ said George.”
Which is your favourite Enid Blyton book/series? Tell us in the comments below.