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Another thing I loved about these books was the almost entire absence of adults. Keen to share the Enid Blyton love, I took her to the local bookstore to buy a new copy of the Faraway Tree, as my childhood copy had fallen apart. At bedtime we opened the book, so excited, but from the first page I knew something was horribly wrong. In this new version Jo had become Joe, Bessie had become Beth, and worst of all Fanny was now Frannie and cousin Dick had been turned into some kid called Rick.
Outraged, I head to the internet for more info. Thanks to Wikipedia, the picture becomes clearer. I take the book and chuck it in the recycling. I think they sound nice. So now I have to have a conversation about dicks and fannies. And where do we draw the line? Filed under: Censorship , Uncategorized Tagged: banning childhood favorites , book banning , censorship , Enid Blyton , names in children's books , politically correct children's books.
I adored the Enid Blyton books as a child—particularly the Famous Five, where the kids, ages sail off by themselves to stay on an island overnight. I had this same experience when my daughter was given a new copy of The Faraway Tree. These books were such a huge part of my childhood. I was so so upset. I too threw the book away immediately and then got out my entire Enid Blyton collection from a box under the house, and despite my original copy of The Faraway Tree being very dog eared and tattered around the edges, we read the original and continued on to many others. How sad and ridiculous that the publishers felt the need to change classic literature.
This totally reminds me of the episode of Futurama when Fry says something about the planet Uranus and is quickly told that the name had been changed because there had been too many jokes made about it. I found a book of Enid Blyton short stories for my daughter that she loved.
What would you like to read?
Changing a book because of names is ridiculous. It is interesting with older books some of the things that were commonplace that make us at least think of self-editing — smoking for instance. Does anyone remember in the original Curious George that he and the man in the yellow hat enjoy a pipe after dinner. Highly recommend Elizabeth Enright as an American author from the 30s and 40s who writes about independent and creative children. I have always hated this idea of censorship imposed after the fact.
I have shared the link on my Facebook page for our families to read. Try reading the Swallows and Amazons series aloud with one of the main characters named Titty… As a shortened variant of Elizabeth, it could be changed to Betty or Lizzie or Liza or Beth or anything. Makes me wonder what has become of The Boxcar Children series. I read the whole series aloud to my daughter when she was little not that long ago. We both loved those stories. I loved the books as a kid too and they developed my love of reading with many a night spent with a torch under the covers past lights off time.
Or Willy. Or Russell the love muscle. And forget about all those Asian names like Wang, Dong, and the like. They have never played each other for a reason; you can only imagine the newspaper headlines should they ever play. We could censor pretty much all luncheon meats because at some point, we have used lunch meat types to refer to genitalia— salami, bologna, pepperoni, etc. That also goes for Beenie Weenies.
Or anything that comes in a cylinder shape. Lets not stop with the male genitalia. Or censoring anything that involves one object being inserted in another object, like keys in a keyhole.
Woody, Hazel and Little Pip
In regards to the dame slap, we have the Pimp Slap and the Bitch Slap here in the states. And it is far worse than giggles over Dick and Fannie. Glad that my parents still have old versions of those books in their possession. Sounds like yet another treasure I will be stealing away with when I visit them next time.
No sheltering the kiddies in those stories…my daughter LOVES them, and shows no signs of emotional trauma from hearing them. He becomes Sunday dinner at the end, in case anyone wants to know. I see this even in trivia…. Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli fame created a whole series of wonderful anime films featuring strong girl characters — because there were no films with strong girls, and he wanted good role models for his daughter. So he made them. Tonari no totoro My neighbor Totoro is probably the most famous but some of the others are far more powerful. All of the lead characters are young teen girls, all are strong and overcome their fears, and all conquer through love and understanding and wisdom.
Anyway, we have the Japanese originals and watch them in Japanese wtih the Disney-fied subtitles. At one point Kiki a 13 year old girl is asked if she wants coffee on the Japanese soundtrack. I could see if she was offered a shot of whiskey, but coffee? My kids have no interest in them.
They are not exciting like they ones from the past were. In these stories, things went wrong when established structures of the world got out of order, whether it was through magic or mishap. Reading these novels was more than entertainment, it opened the door to ethical and moral questions about how one behaves in a culture and allowed kids to project themselves into the conflicts and resolutions of the characters.
Literature opens the door to philosophy and greater human understanding. Just read Dickens of Shakespeare. Still, the tale of a boy who was as horribly abused as any Dickensian waif, who wrestled with self-doubt and issues of right and wrong as well as violence, injustice and death resonated with contemporary kids. Our kids are not blind to the world, and they want to understand it and overcome the challenges they will all inevitably face. Since Enid Blyton has passed away, it does not seem fair to tamper with her work.
Why not give our children the perspective of times past? My son is a Thomas the Tank Engine fan, and when he first took interest in the train series I searched for the corresponding books. The difference between the older ones and the newer ones is pretty striking. In the old stories, the engines get grumpy and snap at each other, and any misbehaving engine is punished, perhaps in ways that might seem harsh. One engine is sealed into a tunnel with brick walls when he refuses to run in the rain. He is eventually let out.
The engines actually haul coal and things you would expect trains to transport. In the newer stories, they are all cheerful and happy all of the time. No one ever seems to get punished. The trains haul cargo like jelly, toys, and party supplies. I read both the newer and older stories to my son, and he enjoys them both. No one is happy all of the time, and sometimes real work has to be done gasp!
I think a balance of older and newer perspective is important in helping to show our kids that times change, but we can still learn something from the past. CrazyCatLady, my daughter really likes Miyazaki, my son, not so much. I think Miyazaki hit his audience dead-on. I agree with you on the Nancy Drew, etc — some of the books I loved seem horribly dated these days, and thus hold no interest for young teens. I bought a couple of modern versions of childhood classics…. Any books, or if you want to call some literature, is always a product of its time.
In a new edition a few years back there was a discussion on whether to edit the word. Off with her nut! I have read this to kids at school — just have to explain what it means in that particular context. Dick and Fanny — same deal have read the novel with these characters, I give the kids a moment to have a giggle and then tell them that they are actually names.
Why do we have to tiptoe around these things? By the way are we going to rename The Lion, the Witch and the wardrobe to The Lion, the Witch and the Closet in fear that children will not know what a wardrobe is? I also do live shows. There are also dances that kids can do with my new books. Now, I think we can all agree that unlimited screen time is not a good thing. And how long that should be depends on the child. However, some screen time, especially when used to promote literacy, is positive.
It works for some kids, but leaves out many others. So what does a kid respond to? Maybe the combination of the video combined with the tactile of holding the book. And another child picks up the book and likes that they can detect a structure and pattern. All these pathways should be open so that the child feels smart, and feels joy, and feels pleasure. Did you think, okay, it needs repetition, and music, and rhyme, and to have call-and-response opportunities?
How did you tackle that? I first tackled it as a classroom teacher trying to make literacy accessible. So I started to bring in music.
Interview with author and former special ed teacher Eric Litwin
And I added movement. And I did that to get them engaged. But the response was beyond what I anticipated. Today, if that were happen to a young teacher, they would have the vocabulary to understand it—multi-sensory. So what happened is that I became aware that this was my calling and I started working on the development of this literary approach. And I started giving concerts and became fairly successful and popular as an educational entertainer doing mostly school assemblies.
I spent 10 years developing all these techniques. Did I have a list of things that had to be in a story? Yeah, I did. Oh yes, Bill Martin, Jr. He was certainly one of my heroes, there were just some things I wanted in addition. I love Brown Bear, Brown Bear. But for my own books I wanted a story arc with conflict resolution, I wanted a song, and I wanted movement.
But certainly Bill Martin, Jr. He made what I do possible. For me, as a parent of children with autism, these books are all about coping skills and self-regulation. Why this particular topic? Well, they say that every story is a love story. Something happens to the love object and the protagonist—the hero—has to deal with it. There were a number of things I wanted to accomplish.
One: The educational pedagogy we were talking about. That remains a very high priority for me. And I would say things have only gotten worse—and things were bad when I started. I wanted to create books that used simple metaphors, simple conflict resolution to promote a positive attitude. But I wanted a modern metaphor. You have a pair of shoes and you step in something. You have buttons and they pop off and roll away.
So you start to surround your mind with positive words.
Australia’s 50 favourite children’s books — words of magic to brighten kids’ lives
Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes is your school anxiety story, and you chose to structure the book as an exploration of the parts of a school building. I got to say, this is just brilliant for a kid on the spectrum—. I'm sure! But kids with autism can be unusually overwhelmed by new spaces, particularly large and chaotic ones.
How did you develop this new approach to the school anxiety subgenre? So after book one, the editor asked for a book about school. But what I knew is that unstructured time and overstimulation are the greatest sources of anxiety. So I wanted to create a book about unstructured, overstimulating environments. And not everyone realizes that this is what stresses out so many kids. People think kids like the chaos since they are creating it. And some do. But many, many do not. Tell me about what you are doing differently with The Nuts. That one returns to the positivity message, which is my personal favorite subgenre.
The first two are basically about a family that sticks together. So the first book, Bedtime at the Nut House is about bedtime conflicts. And the second book, Sing and Dance in Your Polka Dot Pants , is the conflict that occurs when a child wants more attention but the adult needs to do adult things or is exhausted. LCC record. The Independent online.
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