A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Heidi is a classic story by Swiss author Johanna Spyri, first publiished in 1880. It's beautifully written, but it may not be not to every contemporary kid's taste. It tells the story of an orphaned young girl sent to live with her grandfather in the mountains of Switzerland. It was adapted for a 1937 film starrring Shirley Temple and again in 1993 and 2015. An animated film version was also released in 2015.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Is it any good?
Heidi's life on the mountain is so joyous, and vividly portrayed that kids may end up dreaming of such a life. There's a reason this book has stayed in print for more than 140 years.
Her misery in the city, during the middle third of the book, is vivid as well, and readers will long with Heidi to get back to the healthy, sun-filled mountains. The final portion, with the healing of Clara, is, despite its predictability, exciting and moving. The rock-solid values the author espouses may seem simple and old-fashioned today, but you may find yourself longing for them again -- and immersing your child in them can only be healthy. This theme of the healing power of nature and optimism was a favorite in an earlier era. This classic story has lost none of its joy and power, but its slow pace and old-fashioned spirit is not for everyone. Young readers who have the temperament and experience to read or listen to a story of this length and pacing will be rewarded.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about learning from experience in Heidi. What does Heidi learn when she first goes up the mountain?
How does Heidi respond to the city, and how is she different when she returns to the mountains?
Have you seen any of the film versions of Heidi? How do they compare with the book?
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