London, June 19: Traditional children’s characters such as ‘Anne of Green Gables’ are being forgotten as the latest generation shun classic books, a university study has revealed.
Researchers found that, one in five British children think that Long John Silver is a character from Peter Pan while the same number believed that Aslan was a giraffe.
A sixth of children questioned said that Roald Dahl’s Mathilda, and not fellow children’s character Heidi, lived in the Alps, and 12 percent believed that the mountains were home to Tracy Beaker.
Due perhaps to his recent reinvention as a popular film character, more than half of the children knew that Aslan of C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was a lion, but others guessed that he was a giraffe or a bear.
The 500 seven to 14-year-olds who answered the survey weren’t very sure about other aspects of the novel, with 17 percent believing the wardrobe was the gateway to the Secret Garden and eight percent thinking it led to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.
The Worcester University researchers who conducted the study said it demonstrated that classic children’s characters like Jemima Puddleduck and Pippi Longstocking could drift out of the nation’s consciousness, with only one in four children being aware of their existence.
Even when it came to Harry Potter only half of children questioned claimed to have heard of the boy wizard, putting him slightly ahead of Robinson Crusoe (46 percent) and Alice in Wonderland (45 percent).
When asked which books they had actually read there were promising signs for some of the most popular children’s stories, with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (33 per cent), Wind in the Willows (29 percent) and Winnie-the-Pooh (28 percent) among the favourites.
But other classics such as Anne of Green Gables (six percent), The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood (six per cent) and Swallows and amazons (nine percent) fared less strongly.
Asked to name their favourite author, Roald Dahl topped the poll with a third of all votes followed by JK Rowling with 21 percent.
“Thankfully, to counteract this possible downturn in children experiencing the classics, there is still a very strong interest in our rich literary heritage,” the Telegraph quoted Prof Jean Webb, who oversaw the survey, as saying.
“This is clearly demonstrated by the popularity of the courses in children’s literature currently run across the UK and also internationally,” he added. (ANI)