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Will Someone Think Of The Children?

Ex-Children’s Laureate says that books for our youngsters are too bleak.

Speaking at an event organised by Children in Scotland, called Compelling Novels, Vulnerable Children, she told The Times: “In the Fifties, when a strong child was dealing with difficult circumstances, there was always a rescue at the end of the book and it was always a middle-class rescue.

“The child would win a scholarship to Roedean or something, and go on to do very well. That was felt to be unrealistic and so there was a move away from that. Books for children became much more concerned with realism, or what we see as realism.

“But where is the hope? How do we offer them hope within that? It may be that realism has gone too far in literature for children. I am not sure that we are opening doors for children who read these books, or helping them to develop their aspirations.”

However, she added: “I can’t see how we roll back from this without returning to the sort of fiction that is no longer credible – books with a Blyton-ish view of things.”

(I could have linked to the Daily Mail article, but that would have been too easy.) Good lord, where to start with this crap. Let’s shelter our little cherubs from the real world, because we want the middle-class gene-pool to ignore the kind of bad stuff that happens to kids from, you know, poor places. (If we close our eyes it doesn’t happen.) Let’s whisk them brainwashed by gentle wish-fulfillment into the real world where bad things never happen.

As Bookninja says, “Your ideal is the Fifties? Need I remind you that the children of that decade are the Boomers currently in charge of the planet? Case closed.”

By Mark Newton

Born in 1981, live in the UK. I write about strange things.

8 replies on “Will Someone Think Of The Children?”

I still reel from hearing a mother telling her child that little red riding hood’s gran got locked in a closet and the woodcutter scared wolfy off with his axe. Umm, the fear is half the fun of fairy tales. Kids are resilient and books can be a great introduction to the real world.

Hmmm, to be honest, I kinda distrust the Telegraph/Mail slant here. There’s something that just doesn’t ring true in the way it all fits together. When she says “it was always a middle class rescue,” that sounds to me like it’s intended as a *criticism* more than anything, like it ties in with the “no longer credible” “Blyton-ish view of things” that she *doesn’t* want to return to. I mean, that “win a scholarship to Roedean or something” could actually be read as kinda dismissive. I’m wondering if maybe the Telegraph/Mail has gutted any *actual* points she made about “what we see as realism” being a bit miserabilist in order to make it all read like “back to the good old days!” bollocks. It just seems a tad… fishy, yanno?

Sir, are you suggesting that journalists twist words and take things out of context? How very dare you! 🙂

Yeah, I kind of was seduced by the Bookninja rant. It would be very likely that such newspapers would massage her words so the tone was of more appeal to their target audience.

But the final piece still deserves a slap down.

Hey! Whenever I have an urge to read children’s fiction I never read anything outside of the fifties. Harry Potter be damned… perhaps that’s why I’m still waiting for a scholarship for an avuncular Professor type to take me away from all this hellishness. Ho hum.

The Lord of the Flies?

What? What do you mean that’s “not for children”? Why, we staged dramatic re-enactments of it at my school!

I wish I could have been at your school. That sounds great! Did the drama spill onto the playground? Did the kid who played poor old Piggy get his glasses smashed for real? That would have been some irony.

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