This is one of my favorite books ever. Perhaps because I have sisters (that are also my greatest friends), this book just hits me in the heart. I cry every time I read it, and I’ve been reading it since I was 7 years old. The story follows the four plucky, resourceful March sisters as they grow up and learn to navigate the world. They are in many ways excellent role models for a young girl. Plus, it’s a great love story. As long as you don’t mind some sentimentalism, it never gets old!
And the part where Jo takes Beth to the seaside and Beth tells her that she knows she’s dying . . . oh my word. I get the shivers just thinking about it. May I have that much grace and peace when my time comes!
You guessed it! The sequel to Little Women is also fabulous. Basically, a grown Jo March opens a boarding school for boys with her husband. As she nurtures and teaches a varied palette of personalities, the little boys grow and mature and learn from Jo what it means to be wise and good men.
The Anne of Green Gables series
Also some of my absolute favorite books. Red-headed Anne is full of the kind of joie de vivre that I hope Alice will have. She just loves life! She meets every situation with energy and is never half-hearted about anything. Her imagination runs free and she embraces the world with vitality and passion. I feel inspired every time I read about her.
Thankfully there are 8 books in the series, so there’s plenty of Anne to read about, taking us all the way into her marriage and middle-age. Like with many of these other books from my childhood that I love, there’s definitely sentimentalism dripping off the page sometimes, but there’s so much goodness there that it doesn’t go down too hard.
The Emily trilogy
By the same author that wrote the Anne series, this trilogy is about a little dark-haired orphan who wants to become a poetess and grows up on an old-fashioned farm with aging, crusty, eccentric relatives who turn out to be (mostly) quite wonderful people in the end. She experiences life, love, disappointment–the works. It’s a beautiful story–you should read it even if you’re not a little girl!
I also wrote a longer review a while back that you can read here if you need any convincing to pick this up.
A Wrinkle in Time
Madeleine L’Engle is amazing. I love A Wrinkle in Time as well as its sequels, and I kind of want to be a part of the Murray family every time I read it, and have a bedroom in the attic just like Meg. With her unique brand of science fiction and a whole lot of great story-telling, these plots are not boring. Or expected. In the least. I think they would expand a child’s idea of the world, time and space, from the big big universe out there to the small, small world inside our bodies–which is also big.
I just finished re-reading these books last month and I enjoyed them just as much as I did when I was 8!
Five Little Peppers and How They Grew
I re-read this book recently too (I’m on a kick). The last time I read it, I was probably 10 years old. So fast forward 20 years: it’s sappy. It’s sentimental TO THE MAX. Possibly to the limit of what any modern reader could physically, spiritually, and emotionally endure. If you’ve never read it before and are an adult-type person, it will probably be so saccharine to your mental palate that you will feel vomitous. Everyone is always screaming about things (in excitement), small problems (a dent in a pail) become household fiascos, and it’s just a little too . . . precious. Make that a lot too precious.
But somehow . . . I still have a special place for it in my heart.
It’s all about family, hard work, fun, kindness–yes. But it might be a little much for all y’all.
A Little Princess
I love this book at 30 years of age just as much (actually, more) than I did at 10. (Sorry, am I sounding like a broken record here?) Anyway, I can’t recommend it highly enough. Here’s the gist: a rich young girl at a boarding school, Sara Crewe, suddenly becomes a poor orphan.
Side note: why are orphans such a theme in books for children? So interesting. I suppose because that makes them the Big People–there’s no adult to overshadow them, and they make their own destiny. Or something.
But back to the book in question! All Sara’s things are taken away and she is reduced to servitude in the very boarding school at which she was the star pupil. But! Does she let it stamp out her hope? No! With her lively imagination and her desire to always act like a princess and show grace to others, she rises above. It is a beautiful, beautiful tale. When I re-read it the other month I cried. And not just in my mind–there were real tears, people.
The Chronicles of Narnia
Best books ever. And so much gospel truth resounds through the stories!
And is it weird if I say that reading about Aslan makes me love Jesus more?
I know . . . a little weird. But true.
Every time I think about that line “he’s not a tame lion,” I get goosebumps of the best sort.
Epic and fun and awesome–I think Alice will love these. And I really hope that she gets to read them without the ending having been spoiled. There’s nothing like journeying through that story for the first time, having no idea what’s going to happen.
Little House books
I just finished re-reading these (man–the concluding book, The First Four Years, gives me severe heartache), and again, I love them even more than I did when I was a child. Laura writes with simplicity, and I think any little girl would find things to identify with–her jealousy of her sister’s blond curls, the wonderfulness of feeling safe in your bed, the almost irresistible urge to disobey sometimes . . .
And reading about their life in the woods, on the prairie, and all the places they go is so, so interesting. I think my historian husband will be fascinated when it’s his turn to read these out loud to Alice.
What’s struck me the most this time around is the strength of the women in the books. They work so hard you guys, and Laura’s Ma is so gracious. The way she respects her husband, the way she goes about her work uncomplainingly, the way she is faithful with her duties and cares for her family has been a real inspiration to me.
Okay, so Ma is definitely a racist–but . . . well . . . Laura never claims she’s perfect.
I made the mistake of going on wikipedia to read the Ingalls’ family real-life biographies, and that really got me down. The books are based on reality but are also fictionalized to a degree. And it turns out there was a lot more heartbreak in their real lives than in the books. I kind of wish I didn’t know some of the stuff that I read . . . I just want to believe that Laura had the perfect childhood.
Anyway, Alice now knows the words “no,” “nose,” “door,” “wall,” and “teeth,” so it’s just a little longer until we can read her full-fledged books, right?
Once she stops licking the pages, of course.
In fact, she recently chewed off the entire front corner of her favorite book, “Planting a Rainbow.” It’s the corner that’s just out of sight in the picture.