It’s the time of year when we start thinking about summer reading. Young or old, boy or girl, here are three reasons why the “Anne of Green Gables” series by Lucy Maud Montgomery should be on everyone’s reading list.
Best friends are essential!
Best friends will follow you wherever you go. Whether it’s a haunted forest (1,20), ill-fated boat ride down the river (1,28) or muddy field to chase a wayward pet (2,2). They may caution you to make a better choice but will ultimately have your back regardless.
Children need to learn to be loyal to their friends. In this day of social media it’s important to remember that there are real people behind the profile pictures, people who have secrets that need keeping, feelings that need respect and choices that do not need debate.
Having a best friend, someone to talk to who will listen without judgement, counsel without censure and support without question can enrich your life in immeasurable ways. After all, there’s nothing better than sitting around a campfire sharing stories of the time you accidentally set your best friend drunk on homemade currant wine (1,16), or had an impromptu picnic in a forgotten garden (2,13).
The world is full of “scope for the imagination”
The world around us is a wondrous place. There is currently a real concern about the lack of “unstructured” play that children experience, for a long time I was worried that my children lacked any spark of imagination! When we realize that a playhouse can be constructed from a broken tea set in a birch grove (1,12) rather than by following the instructions in the box from Toys R Us, or that the valley beside the house (Book 7) can be a haven for wood sprites, fairies, and piping pipers instead of just more grass that needs cutting we learn to really see what’s around us.
We can more readily appreciate the beauty of a blossoming flower, the scent of a summer rainfall, and the texture of fine sand. Everything we experience can become so much more, the slide at the local playground may become a hidden entrance to a world full of cowboys and Indians, jungle explorers, or unicorns and magicians. The ant hill in the backyard can become a whole world of soldiers, sailors, singers, and songwriters.
When we use our imaginations everything becomes possible. I want my children to grow up knowing that all their dreams are attainable with enough imagination, knowledge, and hard work.
Everyone makes colossal mistakes
Whether it’s dyeing your hair a tragic colour (1,27), accidentally selling your neighbour’s property (2,2), or not checking that your handyman is using the correct shade of paint (2,4) you can recover from most of life’s follies with dignity if you learn to own up to your mistakes and accept the consequences.
Learning to be responsible for your own choices is an essential skill that children and adults alike need to know. Equally important though is the idea that tomorrow is fresh, with no mistakes in it yet and we get another chance to try to make better choices.
We need our children to learn accountability and responsibility but we also need them to know hope. Hope that our shorn hair will grow back, hope that the neighbour will accept our apology, hope that the paint will fade in time.
For those of us reading these books again, perhaps for the first time in years, we will find ourselves transported back in time to an age when life was simple, in a place full of beautiful blue seas, green fields and red sand. Our beloved grey-eyed heroine will take us back to our own days of school exams and fledgling romances through marriage and motherhood.
As an adult, reading the latter books (5-8) is a whole new experience. There are births and deaths, mysteries and miscommunications, friendships and failures that resonate with me as an adult in a way that I couldn’t understand when I was younger.
For generations Anne’s story has been passed down from parent to child. Even though it’s been over 100 years there are still so many relevant lessons to be taught and memories to be re-lived that these classic stories should never be left on a shelf.
The numbers in parentheses denote the book and chapter where referenced events took place. I think that I’ve got them all but please correct me if I’m wrong! Following is a list of the books (available in the iBooks store) in chronological order:
- Anne of Green Gables
- Anne of Avonlea
- Anne of the Island
- Anne of Windy Poplars (This is the only one that I couldn’t find for free)
- Anne’s House of Dreams
- Anne of Ingleside
- Rainbow Valley
- Rilla of Ingleside