Little for Parents to Fear in Children's Literature; COMMENT

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), August 26, 2009 | Go to article overview

Little for Parents to Fear in Children's Literature; COMMENT


M OST adults have a favourite children's story, whether it's one they read to their own sons and daughters or one they remember from their own schooldays. So it's little wonder that any comments about the nature and content of children's literature tends to divide opinion.

Many readers will have some sympathy with the call from former children's laureate Anne Fine, which we report on today, for a little more hope (and, by implication, a little less gritty realism) in children's books.

While it's true that some of the Enid Blyton-era stories from the 1950s may have little interest for today's youngsters, it's surely going too far to suggest that there is some sort of crisis in children's literature.

As any parent knows, children aren't stupid; if a story is too far detached from reality, or fails to fire their imagination, they won't enjoy it and there'll be no second reading. If something is too gritty or too "realistic", then there's little chance they'll want to hear it again either.

Of course there's a balance to be stuck here; children need to have their imagination captured by fantastical tales in order to let their own creative minds work. They also need to be taught about the world around them too, about the nature of life in Wales as it is today, not as it might have been (in Ms Blyton's imagination) in the 1950s.

What transcends the two positions are human values - the hope that Ms Fine has in mind. …

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