Title: Anne of Green Gables
Elderly brother and sister Marilla and Mathew decide to adopt a boy to help them on their farm. What they get, in large part due to the stoic and kind-hearted Mathew, is a talkative and dramatic redheaded girl named Anne. The book follows Anne’s many adventures and misadventures growing up in a small farming community on Prince Edward Island at the turn of the 20th century.
Ages 7 and up
I would hope that for most parents it’s not a question of if they introduce their children to Anne of Green Gables but when. The content is not objectionable in any way but their ability to relate to characters in a rural Canadian setting and situation from a century ago may require some parental guidance so they can fully enjoy the story.
Hmmm, I have to stretch for this one. In one episode Anne accidentally gets her best friend drunk on what she thinks is raspberry cordial. It’s an honest mistake and Anne’s epic remorse sets a comic but appropriate moral tone. As far as I know no temperance leagues have taken umbrage with the book. There is also the death of a beloved character which may prove challenging for younger readers – those of you familiar with the story know what I’m talking about – but it’s so integral to the experience of the book that it shouldn’t dissuade you from bringing it to your children.
This is one of my wife’s all-time-favorite books and when I finally introduced it to our kids they embraced it whole-heartedly, in fact, far more enthusiastically than I was expecting. Our daughter is still listening to the audiobook on a regular basis years later and our son was fully engaged even though it’s traditionally seen as a book for girls. He has since gone on to airships and adventure and continues his enthusiasm for mystery solving trios (two boys, one girl, natch) but he will defend Anne as an old favorite. This is probably fodder for a whole other post but considering so much required reading for girls centers around boy characters I think it’s only fair that boys get exposed to Anne, especially and most effectively, from ages 7 to 10. I think it would serve boys well in later life to have early empathy with a female character and Anne’s crazy verbal gymnastics, wild imagination, and comic episodes make her well suited to be a crossover character.
Don’t stop with the first book. The whole series is full of the humor, rich characters, and themes of friendship, forgiveness, imagination, community, and family that make this such an enduring classic.
Do you agree or disagree with my assessment or have something to add?
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Let me know what you think.