How to introduce your kids to Anne of Green Gables

Written by Jamie C. Martin of Simple Homeschool

For someone over a century old, Anne Shirley certainly has been making headlines recently. The new Netflix series has thrust her into the limelight once again–and not without plenty of controversy.

But whether you love the new adaptation or despise it (there don’t seem to be many in the middle!), I’ve heard from a few of you who know how much I adore this redhead–asking me when and how it’s best to introduce Anne to your own kids.

There’s no question I’d rather answer! I wanted my three children (girls and boys) to get to know Anne because I had loved her myself, so I came up with a plan when they were younger to make that happen.

If you’d like to do the same, here are my suggestions:

When your kids are younger than age 7:

The best way to get your kids excited about Anne is to get excited about her yourself. So if you’ve never read the series, check out these newly designed covers by Sourcebooks and get started!

Your littles will hear you laughing, or see you crying, and want to know more. Leave your books around on the coffee table or somewhere they’ll notice them from time to time.

When they ask you a question about it, answer–then say something like, “I can’t wait until you’re old enough to read this, too!” (FYI: This phrase has served me well throughout our homeschool journey.)

L.M. Montgomery meant these books for an adult audience, so you’ll have plenty of inspiring takeaways. Keep this beautiful parenting lesson in mind as you read, too.

When your kids are in the 7-9 age range:

This is one of the rare times I actually recommend letting your kids watch this mini-series BEFORE reading the book. By this point, you will have shared a few snippets of Anne with your kids, and they’ll be eager to meet her.

We’ve made this into an annual tradition–one we’ve done for over five years now at the start of autumn. To make it extra special (& to encourage any grumblers), we get special fall-themed snacks and set aside several hours during “school time” to watch.

While Anne of Green Gables and Anne: The Sequel don’t follow the books’ storyline completely, to me they do convey the same heart and spirit as the novels. Just a note that I would NOT recommend the third installment, Anne: The Continuing Story.

When your kids are in the 9-12 age range:

This is the perfect time to enjoy the book with your kids!

Read it aloud, or listen to the newly released audio edition performed by Rachel McAdams, which has received rave reviews and had us laughing out loud on a recent car ride. (You can snap it up here at a huge discount by adding the Audible narration to your purchase of this ebook version!)

My kids had never grown up thinking of certain books as “girl or boy” books, so I didn’t have any resistance from my two boys. In fact, they became stronger Anne fans than my daughter, going on to read more books in the series.

I think if I had waited until after age 12, though, it would have been more difficult to get them all on board. That’s why I’d suggest introducing the book during the tween years instead.

Afterwards:

In Summer 2016 I had the incredible chance to spend a week in Prince Edward Island, discovering the stunning land that Anne and Maud, her creator, loved so dearly.

After I returned, I created a virtual field trip so you can travel there anytime:

When your kids have become fans of Anne, take them to visit so they can virtually “see” all the sites for themselves!

A word about the new Anne with an E:

I’ve heard from some readers disgusted with the new Anne series, refusing to give it a try. Others have told me they absolutely loved it.

I was eager to watch, but decided to do so alone first, so I could gauge whether it felt right for my tweens and teens (now 12, 12.5, and 14).

My first impressions? Beautiful scenery, gifted actors, believable script.

As an adoptive mom, I cried through much of the first two episodes, grateful that they showed the hard reality of Anne’s life before Green Gables. And although some aspects of the first two episodes varied wildly from the book, they still felt in line with how these characters might have behaved.

Then came episode 3 and what the ?????? My disappointment continued to grow throughout the remaining episodes. What began as darkness for a reason deteriorated into, what felt to me, like darkness for no reason.

In the end, I let my kids watch the first two episodes, the 2nd of which ends on a hopeful note. They stopped there. All of them agreed that they prefer the original mini-series!

I’ve heard some justify this version by saying that it’s for adults, not children. If that’s the case, I’d love to know why it was given a TV-PG rating and why it’s being flashed all over Netflix Kids.

If you’re a diehard Anne fan, take a peek and decide for yourself. The parent reviews on Common Sense Media provide more specific details.

Of course the suggestions above represent just one of many ways to let you and yours get to know the heroine with the puffed sleeves.

Do whatever works for and inspires your family so you can glean from Anne’s courage, optimism, imaginative spirit, and love of learning. Have fun!

Have your kids met Anne yet? Tell us what worked for you?

This post contains affiliate links, which means I get a small commission from some links on this page. Thanks for your support of Simple Homeschool, our family business!

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About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She is the co-founder and editor of Simple Homeschool, where she writes about mindful parenting, intentional education, and the joy found in a pile of books. Jamie is also the author of a handful of titles, including her newest release, Give Your Child the World.

Comments

  1. This is so timely! I love Anne so much but don’t want to mess up introducing Anne to my daughter. I was just trying to figure out when to start. I’ve tried before briefly but I forgot how long the descriptive passages of the book are. I will definitely take your recommendation to heart of doing the miniseries first. I bet if she can visualize the characters, it will be easier for her to read the books. We have the audiobook with Rachel McAdams too. Can’t wait to share my love of Anne – I’m thinking we will go for it this fall when she is 8, but with the miniseries. Thanks for sharing this post!
    June’s latest post: How to Make Mom Friends (when you’re tired of trying)

  2. I love Anne so much. Since my girlie was little we watched the movies (rather I watched them and she toddled in and out). Earlier this year she asked to hear the actual book after reading a story book edition. Thanks to Amazon and the “add audio narration” feature when you purchase the kindle version, we were able to get the new Rachel McAdams version for only a few bucks. I’ve enjoyed rehearing it again these past few days every time I walk past my girlie’s room.

    Also, I couldn’t agree more on your thought about the original movies. They are different from the book, but the heart is there. It’s one of the very few cases where book and movie can comfortably sit side by side.

  3. Love the view from “our” house. 😉
    Caroline Rose’s latest post: On Writing

  4. Anne is in my thoughts again! I have younger children to introduce to her and I love your ideas for whetting the appetite. I’ve loved Anne since my mother shared her with me 36 years ago. When the miniseries first aired, my mother and I had to wait each week for the next episode.
    I appreciate the diplomatic way you approached the new Netflix series. I began watching but didn’t like it enough to even finish the first episode. Sadly, the writers, director, actors missed the most essential elements that gave the story it’s charm and longevity. Perhaps they just don’t believe that children of modernity would prefer beauty and hope to coarse, gritty “reality” that darkens today’s young adult books?
    Thank you, I always appreciate your perspective.

    • It would be fun, Meg, to watch the series that way even now! I could see how having to wait another week would offer more “scope for the imagination!” 😉

  5. Just picked up an Anne of Green Gables picture book for my kids! The artwork is lovely. I resisted starting with a “simplified version,” at first, but it worked for my daughter with other longer chapter books so I thought it was worth a try with Anne.
    (Here’s the link if you’re interested! http://e6401.myubam.com/p/5750/anne-of-green-gables-picture-book )
    Love the idea of the virtual fieldtrip! Thanks for sharing. 🙂
    Alicia’s latest post: MSB {32}: My Sunday House Best

  6. I loved the mini series and read several of the books growing up. I was prepared to hate the new adaption. I am an adoptive parent also and was not prepared for the way the first episode would resonate with me. I could easily see it happening. I have only seen the first episode so far. Thanks for the heads up about the 3rd.
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  7. Anna Brown says:

    Im in the Uk and Anne with an E is rated a 12 and not available on Netflick Kids. I guess we have stronger censoring than you guys but I do think the Uk ratings are appropriate. I watched the first one first then the first episode with my 11 year old. I think I will take your recommendation and stop her after the 2nd episode as you recommend. Ive watched it all and while I enjoyed spending time with Anne again It did have me running back to the books to check “facts” . No bad thing to re read them though. Thanks for your wisdom, really helpful as alway.

  8. Thank you for the ideas! I feel in love with Anne from an early age, and with two daughters I look forward to many more visits to Prince Edward Island. My oldest read the Classic Start version, and then immediately asked for the “big” version. I have put off watching the Netflix series out of fear of ruining the version of Anne I have in my head. Some thing are just best left alone. Thanks to your review I think I will definitely pass on it.
    Erin’s latest post: Tips for Designing a Cleaning Schedule

  9. Lucinda Fox says:

    My 9 year old daughter one day asked me to read aloud to her Anne of Green Gables while she was painting. Now whenever she’s sitting at her easel I am asked to read more. This is one of the precious times I have with her.

  10. I love the older series too! I’ve only watched the first episode of the new. We’ve also enjoyed the Focus on the Family Radio theater version.

  11. Shoshanna says:

    Thank you so much for this post!

    My kids (9 &7) and I have been really enjoying the mini-series, which we’ve been watching slowly this summer.

    I am wondering about Road To Avonlea. I grew up in Canada and loved tuning in to the show every Sunday night. But I think I might have been already a tween/teen when I watched Road. Do you think it’s appropriate for younger Anne fans? Where do you think it fits in to the Anne “curriculum”?

    • Ooh, good question, Shoshanna! We did do a season or two of Road To Avonlea when my kids were your kids’ ages, and we liked it. But we did end up stopping at a certain point because some of the storylines did become a bit advanced (As I recall, there was a storyline where Felicity got her first kiss, etc, and I didn’t feel like it was a fit for their ages anymore.) Hope that helps!

  12. Katie Gasaway says:

    Hi Jamie,
    When I click on your Amazon link I can’t tell if the Audible narration that gets added is the reader you like so much. Are you able to double check it for me? Thanks so much! This was a wonderful and helpful post!
    Katie

    • Hi Katie! The way you’ll know if it’s been added is that next time you log in to your Audible account or app, you will see the audiobook there in your library. That’s how you’ll know it’s gone through correctly–hope that helps!

  13. Hi. I’ve never read the book (didn’t grow up in an English speaking country). I own a beautiful illustrated edition by Usborne. Do you recommend the 9-12 age range because of subjects in content or because of writing style? My daughter has a great attention span even with “harder” books- we’ve read about 40 chapter books so far, mostly classics (we just finished listening to A Christmas Carol and she loved it and got it!) She’ll be 8 in January and I was planning on reading it to her soon… Too early? Thanks. Sarah
    Sarah Badat Richardson’s latest post: The truth about having a baby

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