Everyone’s favorite redhead: Anne is one of literature’s most beloved heroines.
Reading Level: Ages 9-15. This book will be enjoyable for girls and boys alike, but will appeal particularly to young girls.
Length: Varies by edition, typically between 300 and 400 pages.
About the Author:
Lucy Maud (L. M.) Montgomery (1874-1942) is a Canadian author best known for her beloved Anne of Green Gables series, comprised of eight novels published between 1908 and 1939. Montgomery was raised by her maternal grandparents on Prince Edward Island. She began publishing poems and articles for local newspapers after finishing high school, received her teaching certificate in 1894, and studied literature at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia in 1895. After a brief career as a teacher, she published her first book, Anne of Green Gables, in 1908. Anne was so successful that Montgomery was able to write full time for the rest of her life, publishing 20 novels, 530 short stories, 500 poems, and 30 essays. She died in 1942 at the age of 67. Her home, Green Gables Farm, was turned into a National Historic Site.
Here’s why teens might like this book:
Anne of Green Gables is the first book in a series which chronicles the life of Anne Shirley, a vivacious and imaginative young orphan girl, who finds herself living at Green Gables Farm with a middle-aged brother and sister, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, on Prince Edward Island in Canada.
With her nonstop talking, her tendency to get into all kinds of trouble, and her very good heart, Anne is one of literature’s most beloved heroines.
This book chronicles Anne’s development through her mid-teen years. When we meet Anne she is a dramatic, eager 11-year-old schoolgirl who thinks her red hair is her “lifelong sorrow” and who searches for “bosom friends” and “kindred spirits” in everyone she meets. Through the course of the book, she grows up and softens, becoming a thoughtful, animated, and ambitious 16-year-old who has earned the love and respect of everyone in her adopted community of Avonlea as well as a prestigious scholarship to Redmond college.
After tragedy strikes, Anne decides to postpone her college course to stay home and help at Green Gables, teaching at the Avonlea school and growing in her new friendship with Gilbert Blythe. The book ends with hope for a bright future as Anne whispers to herself: “God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world.”
What makes this book worth reading?
This is, in my opinion, the must-read book for every young girl — she will identify with Anne and find her a kindred spirit. Anne is endearing, interesting, and so very human. She has real flaws that she must learn to overcome, and real hopes that she seeks to realize. Her love of beauty and ability to find joy in the ordinary, simple pleasures of life make Anne a delightful character and a wonderful role model, and the books a true enjoyment to read.
Also, as young readers continue to grow, Anne is there to grow too — in subsequent books, Anne goes to college, gets married, experiences deep loss, has children and watches them grow up and have adventures of their own. In other words, Anne will become a lifelong friend, who will be a comfort and guide at every stage of life.
One caveat — the chapter “A Good Imagination Gone Wrong” has some content in the last few pages that may be frightening or disturbing to some children. Anne has imagined that a wood near her home is haunted with ghosts (including that of a murdered child) and is terrified to walk through it, despite Marilla’s protestations that none of her imaginings are real.
A few ways to discuss this book with your child:
- What does Anne mean by “kindred spirits”? Can you think of some “kindred spirits” in your life?
- Talk about Anne’s quarrel, rivalry, and eventual friendship with Gilbert Blythe. Why does Anne hold a grudge against him? Does she regret failing to forgive him when he asks her to? What do you think about Anne’s treatment of Gilbert? What about Gilbert’s treatment of Anne — especially in his giving up Avonlea School so Anne can stay home with Marilla?
- Anne tells Marilla, “It’s a serious thing to grow up, isn’t it. … I feel it’s a great responsibility because I have only the one chance. If I don’t grow up right I can’t go back and begin over again.” What does Anne mean by this? Do you think you’re growing up? How do you feel about that?
- After Matthew’s death, Anne decides to forego her scholarship to stay at Green Gables and help Marilla. Is this a sacrifice for Anne? What does she mean when she says she “looked at her duty courageously in the face and found it a friend”?
If you love Anne of Green Gables, keep reading! The second book, Anne of Avonlea, and the final book, Rilla of Ingleside, which is about Anne’s youngest daughter’s teen years, are especially good for this same age group.