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.
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?
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