First novels for very young children
Enid Blyton: great novels for young children
It's early on Saturday morning. I've just been woken by my four year old daugter who has thrust a copy of Enid Blyton's "The Enchanted Wood" on to my pillow. She wants me to continue the story from where we left off the night before. I don't like being woken up early. On the other hand, it's pleasing to think that she seems to have developed a passion for reading.
Enid Blyton's stories have captivated generations of young children. Mine aer no different. Fortunately Blyton was a prolific writer, so there are many books to choose from.
If you have been looking for an easy to read novel for young chidren, then try starting with Enid Blyton.
Blyton's most well known books are the Famous Five series about a group of children who solve mysteries, and the fantasy trilogies "The Magic Faraway Tree" and "The Wishing Chair".
The first novels I read to both of my children were "The Magic Faraway" tree books.
The novels, in reading order are:
1. "The Enchanted Wood"
2. "The Magic Faraway Tree"
3. "The Folk of the Faraway Tree"
There is also a lesser known fourth follow on book that Blyton wrote, called "Up the Faraway Tree." For more information see: http://www.enidblytonsociety.co.uk/book-details.php?id=377
The central characters in these novels are three siblings: Jo, Bessie and Fanny. In newer editions the editors have changed the children's names to Joe, Beth and Frannie.
At the start of "The Enchanted Wood", the children's family has relocated from the town to the country. The children find a mysterious, magical wood near their cottage. At the centre of the wood is a giant, magical tree. The tree is populated by various characters who the children make friends with. Even more exciting,the top of the tree is a portal to different magic lands. The novels, of course feature adventures in the various lands that the children enter.
Many young children will be captivated by some of the many well known characters that the children meet in the lands at the top of the Faraway Tree. The children have encounters with well known fairy tale characters such as Jack of Jack and the Beanstalk fame, and Goldilocks and the three bears. They even meet Father Christmas. My children in paricular loved the adventure with Goldilocks, Mama Bear, Papa Bear and Baby Bear. This happened quite early on in the first novel, and well and truly caught their interests and had them hooked on the story. It was so exciting for them to hear a new story about well known characters.
The lands at the top of the Faraway Tree will also captivate children's imaginations. Some of Blyton's lands include Birthday Party Land and the Land of Take What You Want. There are some wonderful descriptions of the various feasts and picnics enjoyed by the children and their friends. Loyalty, friendship and honesty are strong themes in the storylines.
In the past Blyton has been criticised for using simplistic themes and language in her novels. However, this is probably one of the reasons why young children can so easily identify with the books, and why they are such a success with children. The language is simple. It follows then that even young children can understand the story easily. As a bonus it's also easier to read the novels aloud.
Some of the themes are also fairly simplistic, in terms of portraying right and wrong. Characters are either "good" or "bad". However, again, I believe this is a bonus when reading a novel to very young children. The object here, is to encourage preschoolers to sit still and fall in love with the reading and story telling process. We should not be expecting complex character analysis, or writings similar to Shakespeare or Tolstoy.
If you want to introduce Enid Blyton to your children, then I would recommend starting with the The Magic Faraway Tree series. I think it is the one that most young children would enjoy best.
If your children enjoyed the Magic Faraway Tree stories then it is likely they will also enjoy "The Magic Wishing Chair" series.The books in the series are:
1. "Adventures of the Wishing Chair"
2. "The Wishing Chair Again"
3. "More Wishing Chair Stories"
This series of books outlines the adventures of a brother and sister, and their adventures with an elf called Chinky, on their magical flying chair. The Wishing Chair whisks the children away on a series of adventures to various magical lands and locations.Probably the first book in this series is the best and most engaging one.
If you would like to give your children a taste of Enid Blyton, but don't want to go down the fantasy path, then try Shadow the Sheepdog.
Again, this has been a story enjoyed by my young children. The book is the story of a sheepdog puppy who is trained and raised by young Johnny. The story is essentially a coming of age story, with Shadow learning how to become a working farm dog. Great for children who love animals.
Another great book is "Enid Blyton's Goodnight Stories for Children". Although not strictly a novel, these short stories are picture book stories involving a substantial amount of text. They are fantasty stories involving magical animals, fairies and children. It is likely to appeal to children who enjoy hearing fantasy stories concerning magic.
Enid Blyton stories
Beautifully illustrated version.