A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this classic 1908 children's novel by L.M. Montomgery remains a perennial favorite thanks to its memorable heroine: irrepressible red-headed orphan Anne Shirley. Anne's adventures are full of amusing (and occasionally mildly dangerous) scrapes, but she's quick to learn from her mistakes and usually has only the best of intentions. Although Anne gets her best friend drunk in one episode (it's an honest mistake), there's very little here that's at all iffy for kids -- though younger readers might get a bit bogged down in the many descriptions of Anne's Prince Edward Island, Canada, home. A sad death may hit some kids hard, but the book's messages about the importance of love, friendship, family, and ambition are worth it.
What's the story?
When aging siblings Marilla and Mathew Cuthbert of Avonlea, a small town in Canada's maritime province of Prince Edward Island, decide to adopt an orphan boy to help with their farm, they never expect to get talkative 11-year-old redhead Anne Shirley instead. Anne's arrival at Green Gables immediately stirs up the Cuthberts' predictable, even-keeled lives -- and before long, they're so attached to her that they can't bring themselves to send her back to the orphan asylum after all. With her vivid imagination, mile-a-minute chatter, and impulsive, love-starved heart, Anne has an impact on everyone she meets in Avonlea, from busybody Rachel Lynde to \"bosom friend\" Diana Barry to handsome Gilbert Blythe, the boy who dares to call Anne \"Carrots.\"
Is it any good?
More than a century after she first beguiled readers, Anne Shirley is still one of the most beloved characters in children's literature -- and for good reason. You can't help but be charmed by her mix of chatter, imagination, fierce loyalty, and enthusiasm. Her tendency for the dramatic -- both the dizzying heights of joy and the depths of despair -- makes her relatable and sympathetic, and her ability to see beauty in everything is inspiring.
Montgomery's knack for creating memorable characters and realistic dialogue makes ANNE OF GREEN GABLES extremely readable, though reluctant readers (or younger kids in general) may balk at her many descriptions of Prince Edward Island's natural splendors. Those who are ready for Anne's adventures, though, will find her a delightful companion -- and will be excited to follow her through the book's multiple sequels.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what makes a book a classic. Are all old books automatically "classics"? Why do you think this particular story stands the test of time?
Do you consider Anne a role model? Is she like any kids you know in real life? How do you think she'd be different if the book were written today?
Why is imagination so important to Anne? What sets her apart from the other Avonlea children?
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