“Plotting with children over adults.” How Roald Dahl changed children’s literature and introduced the youngest to the world of chocolate

He has been referred to as Jimi Hendrix of children’s literature and the father of anti-pedagogy. Roald Dahl was one of the first writers to distance himself firmly from the moral and educational functions of children’s literature. He created stories that the youngest readers adore to this day. He wanted – as he used to say – “to plot with the children against the adults.” And the symbol of this plot was … Chocolate, contributing to the writing of songs for the little ones – the hatred of school. Who is Roald Dahl and what do we learn from his stories today?

Roald Dahl He was born on September 13, 1916 in Cardiff, Wales. Although he was born in Great Britain and is considered one of the greatest authors of British children’s literature, he never felt British. His parents were Norwegians. As a young child, he experienced a double tragedy. At first, his sister died, then she joined her desperate father. Roald was only three years old at the time.

He had no good memories of school. Join organizations in St. Peter’s and Repton, famous for their strict discipline at the time. It can be assumed that it was the teachers there who became the prototypes of Dahl’s adult figures – for example, Mrs. Pałka of Matilda, who was ready to grab a student’s braids and wrap them over her head like a lasso or apply a cruel corporal punishment.

Roald Dahl finished high school but chose not to pursue college. After the outbreak of World War II, he joined the British Air Force. After some time, he moved to Washington, where he worked as a military attache. In the United States he met writer Cecil Scott Forrester – author of marine novels – who encouraged him to write.

Inspite of that Roald Dahl Not only did he write children’s books, it was what made him most famous. Dahl ostentatiously broke away from education, which had been so popular since the beginning of children’s literature. As one of the few in those days, he stated that children’s books should not perform educational or pedagogical functions, and could only entertain the teenage reader.

One of the most famous books Roald Dahl It is undoubtedly Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The story of a poor boy who manages to visit the land of Willy and Nicky is actually the core of every child’s childhood desires. Chocolate is not without significance here, and is sometimes considered a symbol of Dahl’s creativity. It is the sweetness – which adults forbid and cause frequent visits to the dentist – that the writer glorifies in a sense.

If I were the principal, I would get rid of the history teacher and replace him with the chocolate teacher. My students will study at least one topic that applies to them all – reading one of Roald Dahl’s quotes.

And he painted before his dazzling little readers a land where everything was: grass, river, and trees, made of sweetness. Chocolate is not only the essence of satisfying children’s desires, but also an element of children’s folklore.

Eating sweets, infatuation with “disgusting things”, tendency to exaggerate or finally present adult heroes as incompetent and stupid – all this can be seen in Roald Dahl’s work. More than one adult reader will probably read his head about Matilda’s parents, who forbid her to read books, and all they do is sit in front of the TV:

– Dad, will you buy me a book? She asked.
– the book? surprised.
– And why do you need a dirty book?
– To read, Dad.
– What, you don’t like TV anymore? We have a nice 12″ TV and you want a book! You melted, my love!

It is noteworthy that Dahl’s work shows reality from the perspective of a child who sometimes sees his parents as bad and unfavorable, which is interestingly illustrated by Matilda’s thoughts: “She knew that it was not good to hate her parents, but she could not help herself.”

Roald Dahl He was one of the first writers to create “baby-lined” literature, and it wasn’t just aimed at the baby. Perhaps that is why his books are still one of the most widely read for the youngest readers in Poland and in the world.

Roald Dahl is known as the author of not only “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” or “Matilda”, but also “Fantastic Mr. Fox”, “The Witches” and “Very Cool Giant / Big Maiden”. Several of his books have been photographed. For Walt Disney, Dahl wrote a book about gremlins. The movie was never made, but years later director Joe Dante became interested in this story, creating “Gremlins Despair” and “Gremlins 2”. Few know that Roald Dahl also created a movie script for one of the James Bond films (“You Only Live Twice”).

The British writer’s work is considered the most complete of the twentieth century anti-educational trendwhich “opposes manipulative upbringing, the horror that adults impose on children, and the omission of the child’s ‘I’. At the same time, it requires raising children in an atmosphere of kindness and friendship,” writes Anna Frendt.

And while this is the reason why some parents are pissed off by Dahl’s work, it is undeniable that it remains appealing to a major book audience. why? Because every child felt negative feelings about their parents – like Matilda, and each of them looked at one of the teachers like the students at Mrs. Pashka.

Therefore, it is difficult to disagree with the sentence in “publish news”, which sums it up completely Roald Dahl’s character:

“It is to children’s literature what Jimi Hendrix is ​​to the art of playing the guitar: a dazzling beacon that shines so much that no one can beat it, and only few can match it.”


  • M. Zając, Konspirując with children against adults – Roald Dahl and his works [w:] Literary culture of children and youth at the threshold of the twenty-first century, edited by Joanna Babuzinska and Grigors Leszynski, Warsaw 2002,
  • R. D., Matilda, Warsaw 2016, Available.
  • A. Frindt, Antypedagogika as a new trend in education [w:] Literary Culture of Children and Young People at the Threshold of the Twenty-first Century, edited by J. Papuzińska and G. Leszczyński.


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