Potshots at Potter
For all the original artificial hype of Potter’s literary qualities, it is self-evident that their readability, not their quality, is what made them popular with children. Yet while Enid Blyton was actively resisted by school libraries in the past, on the grounds that it might distract from the better quality stuff, Rowling’s equivalent has all but formed the basis of English exams.
Even when I was a kid I thought the librarian jihad against Enid Blyton was pretty stupid. I read heaps of her trashy Famous Five books when I was in primary school (she wasn’t banned in our library). It didn’t do me any harm or distract me from better stuff – as I recall I read the Penguin translation of the Odyssey in the same years, for example. (Jason’s account of his own reading habits suggests a similar range, from absolute trash like Agatha Christie to the classics).
But at least the librarians of my youth had the excuse that a censorious attitude was part of the culture. In fact, such were the many grounds of censorship, I was never quite clear whether the ban on Noddy was because
(a) Blyton wrote trash;
(b) The portrayal of the golliwogs was considered racist; or
(c) The relationship between Noddy and Big Ears was considered ambiguous
I thought we’d grown out of that kind of thing these days. But apparently, according to Bristow, the demise of the Blyton ban shows that ‘Our expectations of children have plummeted’. I’ll bet she reads romance novels on the sly.