The Teaching of Morals in Children’s Literature (episode 4)


The Teaching of Morals in Children’s Literature is as Old as the Hills!

In this the fourth and last episode, we learn about the moral wrapped up in the myth about Atlanta and Hippomenes and consider the Beauty of Teaching Morals to children in literature.

The myth of Atalanta and Hippomenes.

Atlanta known for her swiftness was outmatched by the slow Hippomenes who resorted to a trick of throwing down golden apples on the racecourse before the race. As Atlanta slowed down to pick up the golden apples, he slipped pass her and won the race. What is the moral in this myth? There are many, but the one that springs to mind is: Never bow to temptation. Had Atlanta refused the temptation to pick up the golden apples en route she would have preserved her reputation as the fastest runner and won the race.


The beauty of these examples is that children and adults reading them can grasp instantly the moral lesson in the fable or myths – a grasp that is sharper than if it had been given directly by a parent, schoolteacher or priest. For lessons imparted directly by adults are often in the form of admonitions. Don’t do this or that because so and so will be the result. Whereas in a harmless, enjoyable stories the moral is unconsciously absorbed without resentment towards the person making the moral judgment.

So that when a situation arises that calls for a course of action, both the story and the moral lesson immediately come to mind through the process of the association of ideas. In this way we are guided towards the correct course of action to take to save ourselves from embarrassment. Therefore, let no one criticise Enid Blyton for weaving morals into her stories for children. For weaving morals into children’s stories is as old as the hills!

(Brian Carter is the author and publisher of Enid Blyton – The Untold Story, now going through the publication process. Details, please visit his website:



The Teaching of Morals in Children’s Literature is as Old as the Hills (episode 3)


The Teaching of Morals in Children’s Literature is as Old as the Hills

By Brian Carter

In the first episodes we took a look at the story, The Naughtiest Girl in the School, in which Enid Blyton’s art of weaving moral lessons reached its peak and in the second, the moral lessons Enid wove into the story. In this third episode we learn that Enid Blyton was not the only one to do so.


Now while some of us are of the opinion that weaving morals into stories for children has a beneficial effect in that it helps to check bad behaviour of mischievous or unruly children by opening their eyes to the consequences of their actions, or that it can serve asa deterrent, others are of the opinion that this form of teaching should better be left to the Church where it rightfully belongs. Writers of stories for children should aim to entertain, not to moralise.

Little do people of this persuasion know that the weaving of morals into children’s stories has always been a part of children’s literature. For example, if we examine the fables of Aesop, a Greek who lived in the 6th century BC and of Jean de la Fontaine (1621 – 1695), a Frenchman who helped to popularise them and added many more from other sources, we find that there’s a moral woven into every one of them, as the following examples demonstrate:

In the fable of The Dog and The Bone, the moral is: Be Contented. (As the bone reflected in a pool of water appears bigger that the one in a dog’s mouth, the dog jumps into the pool to grab the bigger bone and ends up with no bone at all.)

In The Goose that laid the Golden Egg: Be Patient. (A farmer killed the goose to get all the golden eggs at once, instead of one golden egg a day, and ended up with no egg at all.)

Even when we turn our attention to the eternal myths of Cupid, Apollo, Cassandra, Pan, Narcissus, Metis and so on, myths that predate those of the fables of Aesop by centuries, we find that there is invariably a moral woven into each of them. Find out what one of these moral lessons is in the myth about Atlanta and Hippomenes next week in Episode IV.


SF and fantasy make a vampire bleed (sorry – blend)




SF and fantasy



Elle Dupree has her life all figured out: first a wedding, then her Ph.D., then swank faculty parties where she’ll serve wine and cheese and introduce people to her husband the lawyer.

But those plans disintegrate when she walks in on a vampire draining the blood from her fiancé Greg. Horrified, she screams and runs–not away from the vampire, but toward it, brandishing a wooden letter opener.

As she slams the improvised stake into the vampire’s heart, a team of black-clad men bursts into the apartment. Turning around to face them, Elle discovers that Greg’s body is gone—and her perfect life falls apart.



Margo Bond Collins is the author of urban fantasy, contemporary romance, and paranormal mysteries. She has published a number of novels, including Sanguinary, Taming the Country Star, Legally Undead, Waking Up Dead, and Fairy, Texas. She lives in Texas with her husband, their daughter, and several spoiled pets. Although writing fiction is her first love, she also teaches college-level English courses online. She enjoys reading romance and paranormal fiction of any genre and spends most of her free time daydreaming about heroes, monsters, cowboys, and villains, and the strong women who love them—and sometimes fight them.



The worst thing about vampires is that they’re dead. That whole wanting to suck your blood business runs a close second, but for sheer creepiness, it’s the dead bit that gets me every time. They’re up and walking around and talking and sucking blood, but they’re <span style=”text-decoration: underline;”>dead</span>. And then there’s the whole terminology problem–how can you kill something that’s already dead? It’s just wrong.

I was twenty-four the first time I . . . destroyed? dispatched? . . . a vampire. That’s when I found out that all the books and movies are wrong. When you stick a wooden stake into their hearts, vampires don’t disintegrate into dust. They don’t explode. They don’t spew blood everywhere. They just look surprised, groan, and collapse into a pile of corpse. But at least they lie still then, like corpses are supposed to.

Since that first kill (I might as well use the word–there really isn’t a better one), I’ve discovered that only if you’re lucky do vampires look surprised before they groan and fall down. If you’re unlucky and miss the heart, they look angry. And then they fight.

There are the other usual ways to kill vampires, of course, but these other ways can get a bit complicated. Vampires are notoriously difficult to trick into sunlight. They have an uncanny ability to sense when there’s any sunlight within miles of them, and they’re awfully good at hiding from it. Holy water doesn’t kill them; it just distracts them for a while, and then they get that angry look again. And it takes a pretty big blade to cut off someone’s head–even an already dead someone–and carrying a great big knife around New York City, even the Bronx, is a sure way to get arrested. Nope, pointy sticks are the best way to go, all the way around.

My own pointy stick is actually more of a little knife with wood inlay on the blade–the metal makes it slide in easier. I had the knife specially made by an old Italian guy in just about the only ratty part of Westchester, north of the city. I tried to order one off the internet, but it turns out that while it’s easy to find wood-inlay handles, the blades themselves tend to be metal. Fat lot those people know.

But I wasn’t thinking any of this when I pulled the knife out of the body on the ground. I was thinking something more along the lines of “Oh, bloody hell. Not again.”



A reluctant vampire hunter, stalking New York City as only a scorned bride can.

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The Teaching of Morals in Children’s Literature (episode 2)


The Teaching of Morals in Children’s Literature is as Old as the Hills

By Brian Carter

Following on from Episode 1, Let us now take a look at just two of the moral lessons Enid wove into the story of The Naughtiest Girl in the School:

  1. Stubborn children bring more trouble upon themselves than they could ever imagine.

Among the troubles Elizabeth brought upon herself are:

Having to swallow biting insults:

When she did not want to share her cakes the monitor blurted out, ‘If your cakes are as horrid as you are, no one would want to eat them’.

Made to look ridiculous:

When she did decide to share her cakes no one wanted to take them.

Called names:

She was called the Bold Bad Girl.


No one wanted to be her friend.

  1. A bad reputation remains with you even if you have become a good person.

This is how Enid made this point in the story:

‘Don’t you remember? You were the naughtiest girl in the school – and you meant to be, too! The things you did,’ said Julian, a classmate, soon after she had become a monitor. Elizabeth went


bright pink.

‘You needn’t remind me of that first term. I was awful. I just can’t think how I could have behaved like that’.

‘Well I wasn’t there then, but I’ve heard plenty about it. I guess you will always be known as the naughtiest girl in the school even if you go on being a monitor for the rest of your school days!’

The morals woven into these two extracts are, in the first, there is no penalty or punishment for good behaviour, and in the second, do good and good will follow you.

Was Enid Blyton the only writer to weave morals into children’s stories? We’ll find out next week, in Episode III.

Polarity in Motion by Brenda Vicars (see page “Star Books” for details)






Polarity-in-Motion-Author Copy

Fifteen-year-old Polarity Weeks just wants to lead a normal life, but with a mother diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, that’s rarely easy.

Her life gets more disastrous when her sixth-period history classmates start ogling a nude picture of her on the Internet. Polarity would never have struck such a shameless pose, but she’s at a complete loss to explain its existence.

Child Protective Services yanks her from her home, suspecting her parents. The kids at school mock her, assuming she took it herself. And Ethan, the boy she was really starting to like, backpedals and joins the taunting chorus.


Brenda Vicars has worked in Texas public education for many years. Her jobs have included teaching, serving as a principal, and directing student support programs. For three years, she also taught college English to prison inmates.

She entered education because she felt called to teach, but her students taught her the biggest lesson: the playing field is not even for all kids. Through her work, she became increasingly compelled to bring their unheard voices to the page. The heartbeat of her fiction emanates from the courage and resiliency of her students.


Deputy Gonzales changed the subject. “I love your name, Polarity. Is there a story behind that?”

“Mom knows that BPD can cause her to see people as perfect or evil. She named me Polarity, spanning positive and negative, to remind her that I’m not one or the other.” The deputy and Mrs. Sims froze—surprised and listening. “She wanted to be sure that she never judged me the way that borderlines tend to do.” I hardly ever tell people this, but I guess the hundreds of questions yesterday and today were wearing me down.

For once Mrs. Sims didn’t write on a form.  She and Deputy Gonzales sat in silence as if waiting for more. I let them wait—there was nothing more to say.

“Polarity in Motion” is available from:

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Author page on RAP:!/Vicars-Brenda/c/12029047/offset=0&sort=normal


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Lynn McNamee



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The road to a novel

When I started writing Tipton, I didn’t know I had a novel on my hands. I thought I was writing a short story about a teenaged orphan named Ross Gentry who lived at the Tipton Home in Tipton, Oklahoma, in the late 1930s. At the time, I was working for the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, which published a journal called Tough Times Companion. That’s where I planned to submit my story about Ross.

The problem was, Ross was getting to know a young housemother at the orphanage named Alice Williams. He and a couple of the other orphan boys and Anna (another housemother) all had crushes on Alice. After I wrote fifty or so pages about these people, I knew my story was way too long for the journal. I secretly hoped I was writing a novel, but I was afraid if I started thinking about it—let alone talking about it—like that, the whole world of Ross and David and Dennis and Alice and Anna would die off like an overwatered geranium. It was just a story, that was all.

In the midst of writing it, I changed jobs and began teaching at James Madison University, an hour away from my home in Charlottesville. The morning commute put me on I-64 West and then I-81 North. Those are busy, fast-moving highways, and there’s a gorgeous vista—all sky and trees and tumbling depths—near the top of Afton Mountain that terrified me.

On clear days, I felt like I would sail right off that curve and into oblivion. On foggy days, I took Exit 99 and avoided the crisis altogether. The town of Waynesboro never looked so good as it did on those days when I dropped below the fog line and managed to see the road in front of me.

The point is, I now had a long drive to work. When I got more comfortable with the commute—and after about a month, I did—my thoughts returned to the people at the Tipton Home. Day after day, week after week, they accompanied me over Afton Mountain. I listened to them; I let them lead me along. When they laughed, I laughed. Once or twice, when Ross was in pain, I cried with him. As for Alice, I could only shake my head.

Then the story shifted to Orange County, Virginia, where my family roots are. I confess I was glad because I know a lot more about Virginia than I do about Oklahoma. But I still let my new friends lead the way. When Alice Williams decided she wanted to track down Macklin, the husband who’d left her, I wondered what on earth she would find when she got to Rapidan, the farming village where Macklin had gone to live with his great uncle. And what would happen to Anna Boyer, driving Alice to Virginia and still in love with her? And what of Ross, who’d chosen boot camp over college? I was excited for all of them but also apprehensive.

Week after week, in sun and sleet and fog and snow, I traversed the roads between Charlottesville and Harrisonburg. Sometimes I could think only of the weather. A few times, as the snow fell hard and fast, I prayed out loud. Other times, on beautiful starlit evenings, I thought about what kind of takeout (Thai 99 or Wayside chicken?) I would get when I approached the last turn toward home.

But often, with no music playing and only the drone of traffic filling my ears, I thought about Ross and Dennis and David, who’d left Tipton to fight in World War II, and about Alice and Anna who by now had arrived in Rapidan. What adventures they were all having!

I liked these people (with one or two exceptions). Some of them I loved. They were, for the most part, good souls whose lives were taking them places they hadn’t counted on going. And they were taking me places I hadn’t expected to go.

I completed a first draft before my visiting professorship ended at JMU. The summer before my final year of teaching there, I moved home to Orange County, to a little house on the family property where so much of the story takes place.

Although I didn’t think about it at the time, I was following my characters to Rapidan.

What had they found there?

What would I find?

And who, for heaven’s sake, was writing whom?

The answer to the first question is now between the covers of a novel called Tipton, new this month from Knox Robinson Publishing. The answer to the second is a work in progress. The answer to the third is written in the fog somewhere above Afton Mountain and between the stars glittering, as I write this, far above my corner of the world in Rapidan.

The teaching of morals in children’s literature is as old as the hills!

This article takes a look at Enid Blyton’s art of weaving morals into children’s stories and shows that she was not the only one to do so.

By Brian Carter



If we have the chance to go through the bulk of stories Enid Blyton wrote for children we shall find that there are moral lessons running through many of them. This is especially the case in The Adventure of Binkle and Flip (George Newnes, 1950) and Shadow the Sheep Dog (Collins, 1950). This form of teaching was to reach its peak in


The Naughtiest Girl in the School that first appeared in the Sunny Stories Magazine before it was eventually published in book form (pictured).  Before going on to consider the teaching of morals in general, let us first of all find out what this fascinating story is all about and take a quick look at some of the morals Enid wove into it.

Elizabeth Allen, a mischievous, spoilt girl from a rich middle class background did not want to go to school. Being unable to persuade her mother that if she kept her at home she would behave herself, she resolved that she would behave so badly at the boarding school that the teacher would send her back home – for good.

At first she was succeeding, but as time went by she discovered that her bad behaviour was depriving her of enjoying all the school activities she loved. After struggling with her conscience, she changed her behaviour and went on to become a monitor or head girl, with powers to discipline other bad-behaved children in the class.

What are the moral lessons Enid wove into this story? We’ll find out next week in Episode II.





Author of fiction