The excitement of books from our childhood is never replaced. No matter what I read now it doesn’t have the same buzz and zing that I recall from my first readings of childhood favourites. It seems I’m not alone, as shown in this only slightly marketing based article in The Guardian.
Like Cassandra Jardine, I remember starting out with Noddy, the Faraway Tree, and Wishing Chair stories, before progressing through the Secret Seven and Famous Five books. These simple but well crafted tales set me on my reading habits path, a trail that lead through Kenneth Grahame and A A Milne, to the mysteries of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie and Margery Allingham, as well as futuristic explorations of Isaac Asimov, Arthur C Clarke, and Douglas Adams! I remember being surprised to hear of Blyton’s books falling from favour, and wondering what I had missed reading them the first time around. I didn’t recall racism, I could identify a certain sense of snobbery and class in the style, but most of all I remember how the stories instructed being well behaved, polite, and organised, whilst still having a dashed exciting adventure.
I think in these enlightened days of politically correct child education, we should encourage everyone to read not just the latest Harry Potter (which still seems like a Blyton rewrite in places) but also some older and more established titles. Just because it isn’t flavour of the month doesn’t mean it doesn’t have flavour.