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12 January 2016 @ 11:22 pm
On childrens books and their popularity over time  
I noticed at work today that there's now a fuck of great big light industrial/ pharmaceutical/ biotech park beside Radnor Mere, which features in "The weirdstone of Brisingamen" by Alan Garner.

It was published in 1960, and became a major success that decade, and continued to be popular certainly until the 1980's and probably 1990's. There was a sequal, and a third book in 2012 makes it a trilogy. He also wrote a number of other books set in the same area of Cheshire.

Now, the thing I was wondering was, if we've now moved into another era of childrens books, when books that were popular with our parents generation, ones that my generation and people a little younger could read and enjoy even in the late 20th century, are now not so popular, or else harder to read.

At this stage I do not have any real information about whether it is or not. And I think it likely that it is still somewhat popular amongst a smaller segment of the market, the point being that it's mass appeal which made it so famous over 50 years ago is less likely now.

The reason being simply that as time has changed, reader expectations and willingness to work with an author or read through confusing bits also changes. For instance, in the Weirdstone of Brisingamen the children are picked up from the railway station in Macclesfield by someone driving a horse and cart.
There are no mobile phones, no calling for help when you are stuck out in the countryside. No internet to ask if that sound is from a ghost or not.

Having said that, there are some very strong things in the books favour, from the scene setting and the horror that is evoked and the characters. Yet I think back to some of the childrens books I read as a child, the classics from the late 19th and early 20th century, and even then I found them dated, hard to read and sometimes dull. I wonder what a modern child makes of what we would regard as classics, that are now 50 or 60 years old?