Rewriting The Classics: Should Old Books Be Updated To Reflect New Ideas?

The debate around rewriting popular children's books intensifies as Puffin Books approves changes to several Roald Dahl books so that his stories "can continue to be enjoyed by all today."

Katie Sue Webber
Katie Sue Webber
Mom to two sweet little boys. Helping moms is her passion.
Last updated
February 28, 2023

Roald Dahl's classic works of children's literature, including "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," "The BFG," and "Matilda," are undergoing changes in order to make them more body-positive and sensitive to mental health. The changes are being made by the Roald Dahl Story Company and Puffin Books, with the help of Inclusive Minds, a sensitivity reader group. Changes include taking out words like "fat," "ugly," and "crazy," as well as changing gendered phrases like "boys and girls" to "children".

Writers and readers alike have spoken out against this move, claiming that it is not the best way to handle the problem of Dahl's works being insensitive in certain respects. Suzanne Nossel CEO of PEN America said, “If we start down the path of trying to correct for perceived slights instead of allowing readers to receive and react to books as written, we risk distorting the work of great authors and clouding the essential lens that literature offers on society.”

The author of the article claims that that instead of scrubbing history, these moments should be used for teachable lessons and critical discussions.

Roald Dahl's library of written works totals over 40 pieces, including 20 children's books, and the adaptations of his stories have grossed millions of dollars in the box office.

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