Home > books > Speaking of historical girls’ literature

Speaking of historical girls’ literature

Fuck that American Girls crap. I say to go with the original-source texts. And I just found out that the best of the lot — Anne of Green Gables — turns 100 this year! Happy birthday Anne!

I loved the books. Read them all in a block, starting with Anne of Green Gables and going right through Rilla of Rainbow Valley. It was one of the first times I stayed up past lights out reading. I had a piece of yarn rigged to the light switch on my wall so that I could yank my light off if I heard my folks on the stairs. (Worked a treat, too, until Dad figured out that if he touched the light and it was still hot…) I remember being completely unable to sleep, heartsick over Walter and worried about Jem and weeping over that stupid dog. I’ve read the first one so many times that I had to buy a second copy.

I haven’t re-read those books since high school, I think. Nor the Emily books — which I enjoyed but were a little more… serious, gothic, something…. they lacked the joy of the Anne books. A friend of mine is doing some sort of a challenge — writing about Emily’s discarded book “Seller of Dreams.” But I think that they are going to be books I can hand off to my daughter without qualm.

The other great girls’ literature historical series — The Laura Ingalls books — will occasion some qualms. Not to say I won’t recommend them to her — they are great books — but some of the stuff in there is pretty intense. There will be explanations of cultural context and why Caroline Ingalls wasn’t such a great person, for all that she was a great mom.

Anne won’t really require that.

At least, i don’t think so. If you’d asked me two years ago is Laura did, i probably would have said “no.” But then I reread those books. Maybe if I re-read Anne right now, I’ll find it larded with racism and sexism and all kinds of unwholesome things.

But I really don’t think so.

  1. July 10, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    i loved all the anne of green gables books. there were what, 6 of them? anne had chutzpah, she made me proud to be a girl.
    you know who else i respected when i actually read the book? pollyanna. because no matter what happened to her she was going to triumph. she taught me the importance of resilience, of being true to myself.
    other books- a girl of the limberlost series. made me cry.

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