Why The Anne of Green Gables Series Should Be Universally Read and Adored By All & The Lessons It Teaches


Why The Anne of Green Gables Series Should Be Universally Read and Adored By All & The Lessons It Teaches

(longest title ever!)

Today, we are doing something a bit different from our usual reviews.  I have recently reread the first three novels in the Anne of Green Gables Series.  I read them first when I was 12 or so, and I was not planning on writing about it at all.

However, as I was reading I found many new connections and lessons – things I hadn’t even considered when I was younger. And I decided to share them in this post.

The book is considered to be a children’s book, and that’s the section you’d find it in while shopping in any Barnes and Nobles. Everyone has heard of Anne of Green Gables…. but you may not know that the author actually wrote EIGHT books, all of which focus on Anne Shirley and members of her family. It is an actual series as opposed to just the one novel. The books follow Anne as she grows up.

So that may sound entirely boring to many of you especially when you add in the fact that Anne was born in 1865, so the series take place in various locations around Prince Edward Island, Canada, from 1876, when Anne is 11, through WWI, when Anne is middle-aged. Snooze fest, right? Wrong. By rereading the series, I was shocked at how so many of the things Montgomery writes about/things that Anne goes through are still totally applicable today, more than 100 years after the first book was penned in 1908. The novels are truly timeless, genderless and perhaps most importantly, should not be deemed as “just for children”.

Reasons Why Both Genders Should Love This Series 

1. Relatable

I was shocked at how often Montgomery captured what I had felt at certain points in my life.

Anne’s childhood is still totally relatable. Sure, it might be a bit more religious than your upbringing and maybe you weren’t an orphan for the first eleven years of your life, but we’ve all formed clubs, found a best friend, disliked mean girls, and worried about our looks/wished we were someone else. The specifics may vary but the emotions associated with these experiences are all the same and an integral part of growing up

A few moments that were especially poignant took place when Anne was in college.  After being published in a magazine, Anne is given $10 from the magazine. Upon seeing this, her friend makes a statement I could see anyone in college today making: “‘What are you going to do with that ten dollars, Anne? Let’s all go up town and get drunk,’ suggested Phil.” – Anne of the Island   It is worth noting that this did not happen… But it was humorous all at the same time.

Another instance was when Anne describes her feelings about leaving college: “‘No matter what deeper joys come to us later in life, we’ll never again have just the same delightful, irresponsible existence we’ve had here. It’s over forever, Phil,’ said Anne.” – Anne of the Island.  I don’t think anyone could have said or written this better.  It was exactly how I felt leaving college in 2011, and I imagine it is how most people felt about leaving college behind them regardless of the year.

2. The Series Was Created for Solace

It was revealed in 2008 by L.M. Montgomery’s descendants that she battled severe bouts of depression and that she actually took her own life at the age of 67, contrary to the other report circulated at the time that claimed another cause of death. This was truly shocking for me to learn; many still don’t quite believe it and claim the note that was found next to her (the saddest three sentences you will ever read) was actually meant to be a journal entry. The books by no means reflect her depression. Her family also stated that her writing was her solace, the one thing she took comfort in.  The fact that she took solace in these words and in the world of Avonlea is what instead shines through the books and makes them such an amazing read. There’s a sort of enchanting simplicity to the books. They are still realistic and have the ups and downs and climaxes of plot, but they are ultimately happy novels with an appreciation and wonderment that transfers to you. Montgomery, with her vivid (and at times flowery) descriptions, creates a world that you can transport yourself into, and it is one that is easy to love and feel nostalgic for.

3. Some Thing Never Change

For example…. politicians will always be politicians.

Mrs. Rachel Lynde constantly rages about how horrible politicians are, and we even see one of Anne’s neighbor’s being bribed (and accepting said bribe) for his vote. There’s all sorts of shady politics, and many of the quotes were ridiculously similar to what I would expect someone today to say.

Another example: the road to true love is never easily paved.  Anne goes through many ups and downs and even some botched/hilarious proposals before discovering her true love.

Yet another, although this one is a bit sad: teachers have seemingly always been under-appreciated. I feel I have heard nearly the same thing from many friends who teach over 100 years later.

“Someday I am going to write a treatise on ‘The Trials of a County Schoolmarm’. It will be a harrowing bit of realism. It seems to be the prevailing impression that we live in clover and have nothing to do but draw our quarter’s salary. My treatise would tell the truth. ‘Well you get your money easy,’ some rate payer will tell me condescendingly. ‘All you have to do is sit there and listen to lessons.’ I used to argue the matter at first but I am wiser now.” – from Anne’s teacher friend in Anne of Avonlea

Lessons From the Series

1. Embrace differences – “‘But everybody has her own way of living. I used to think there was only one right way… but since I’ve had you and the twins to bring up, I don’t feel so sure of it,’ said Marilla.” – Anne of Avonlea

2. You’re going to need gumption AND higher education is important: “‘Judging from what you all say,’ remarked Aunt Jimsie, ‘the sum and substance is that you can learn – if you’ve got natural gumption enough – in four years at college what it would take about 20 years of living to teach you. Well, that justifies higher education in my mind. Its a matter I was always dubious about before.’

But what about people who haven’t enough gumption, Aunt Jimsie?’

‘People who haven’t natural gumption never learn,’ retorted Aunt Jimsie, ‘neither in college or in life.'” – Anne of the Island

3. Don’t judge people by their looks/first impressions can be dreadfully wrong.  Anne makes the mistake of judging Mr. Harrison by his appearance (in addition to him being a bit rude upon their first meeting) and immediately assumes he is a terrible, mean person. This is, of course, not true and causes Anne some grief for a small amount of time before she realizes her mistake.

4. Importance of true friendship – with no petty spite.  And how having even one true bosom friend who understands you makes you wealthy

5. How we can’t live up to our ideals – but still need them. 

“‘I haven’t lived up to my ideals.’

‘None of us ever do,” said Mrs. Alan with a sigh. “But then Anne, you know what Lowell says, ‘Not failure but low aims is a crime.’ We must have ideals and try to live up to them even if we never quite succeed. Life would be a sorry business without them. With them it is grand and great. Hold fast to your ideals, Anne.’

‘I shall try.'” – Chapter 15, Anne of Avonlea

6. The absolute beauty of nature & how to appreciate nature.  I don’t think it is possible to read this series and not notice how wonderfully Montgomery, and thereby Anne, appreciate nature.  The passages describing it are lovely and too numerous to list.  Each one is amazing, and you can’t help but later apply it to your own world and look for the natural beauty around you to delight in.  This is something that we all too often ignore… something that we as a population need to be better about.

I hope I’ve given you some glimpse as to why the series is still relevant and how enjoyable the read can be even if you aren’t a twelve year old girl.  This series is a classic for a reason.

The Series:

Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Avonlea

Anne of the Island

Anne of Windy Poplars

Anne of the House of Dreams

Anne of Ingleside

Rainbow Valley

Rilla of Ingleside

Written by Rachel B.

Rachel is a co-creator and writer at Definitely Not for the Birds (DNFB). She recently graduated with a degree in English. Presently, she writes, reads, and then reads and writes some more, with a giant and ever-present mug of green tea in her hand. Follow Rachel @rrbindl and DNFB @not4birds