S being all of 14 years old and of male gender, showed resistance to all the girl-oriented fiction that had been my mainstay all these years ( though that hasn't kept me from pushing P.G. Wodehouse, Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke on him).
With M, the cycle has run thusly: Enid Blyton, with all her 'golly, goshes and golliwogs', was introduced to her at the age of 5 in the Noddy series. She took to it like a duck to water, falling in love with the ridiculous adventures of Noddy in his car and the red-nosed constable Mr.Toots. Never mind that the politically-incorrect intruded, with the reference to itinerant tinker( Roma, please forgive me) and his thieving family trundling about the town with their gypsy caravan.
She is now currently addicted to the adventures of the Magic Faraway Tree, but hasn't yet been introduced to the Famous Five, Secret Seven and others or the school series. All in good time. (I'm definitely going to avoid the new Famous Five avatars that the Disney conglomerate are trying to milk for more cash in the age of the Ipod.)
Next, I tried the Winnie the Pooh originals, figuring that the much-loved Disney version needed to be supplanted with a true dose of Poohisms. To my delight, it caught on as well. M loves to read out lines like these aloud from the original A. A. Milne books.
First of all he said to himself: "That buzzing-noise means something. You don't get a buzzing-noise like that, just buzzing and buzzing, without its meaning something. If there's a buzzing-noise, somebody's making a buzzing-noise, and the only reason for making a buzzing-noise that I know of is because you're a bee."This effectively ended the enchantment with the faux Winnie-the-Pooh Disney scripts which had Poohesque language and little else to recommend them. She has since meandered her way through the entire"House at Pooh Corner".
Then he thought another long time, and said: "And the only reason for being a bee that I know of is making honey."
And then he got up, and said: "And the only reason for making honey is so as I can eat it." So he began to climb the tree.
I used to have a Raggedy Ann doll when I was about 4 years old,and got my first chance to read the original Johnny Gruelle series some years later. I used to tell M tales of my (long deceased) Raggedy Ann doll, christened 'that scarecrow doll' by my father, for her wild mop of stringy yarn hair and staring eyes. M lapped them up all eagerly. One fine day, she popped the surprise on me "I want a Raggedy Ann doll for my birthday, a large one". This was a bit out of the blue for me, and I ran pillar to post to FAO Schwartz online before I could find a Raggedy Ann of suitable dimensions (this was a once-in-a-year request, after all.) Next, she wanted a Raggedy Andy to go
with it, but I chickened out and got her a miniscule version of Andy. So now we have a huge pile of vintage Raggedy Ann books, which she picks up and reads whenever she likes, a 16" Raggedy Ann and an 8" Raggedy Andy who is let out of his 'Collector's Edition Box' once in a blue moon, plus a Raggedy Kitty, given as an extra special gift from her best friend.
Running out of contemporary children's authors who appeal to M in her school and the local library, I mentioned the intriguing name of "Moomintroll" from an ancient series read a long time ago. She caught on to the name and insisted that I try to locate the books for her. Thanks to online searches and inter library loans, the first book duly arrived 2 weeks ago and enchanted her with the world of Moomintroll, Moominmamma, Moominpappa, Snork Maiden, the Groke, Hattifatteners and all.
I hope no media conglomerate will come up with marketing plans to revive these old-but-gold book series into a world-wide megacampaign akin to the Harry Potter mania. But one thing we can always be sure of: it may be obscured by the years, but there will always be a website devoted to these arcana that you can rely on for some 'modern' context to the younger generation.