Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sharing Anne

One of my favorite things to do, ever, is to share books that I cherish with others who will appreciate them the way I do.

Back in the spring, I mentioned that I was reading Anne of Green Gables with a teenage girl I tutor. We're nearly finished with it now (yes, I realize that's some slow reading, but we only do a chapter or two a week, so...) and it's been a wonderful experience for both of us, I think. I love sharing the book, and showing this girl who has never read a REAL book before just why reading is such a delight. It's also been a good book to help her open up and express some of her own thoughts and feelings about her past -- she was a foster child (recently adopted) and life's been pretty tough for her, and I think Anne has been very good for her emotionally.

So today we were reading, and many times throughout this book I have been reminded of just why I love it so much -- what makes it so exceptional -- but today we read one of my favorite bits:

Anne sat down on Marilla's gingham lap, took Marilla's lined face between her hands, and looked gravely and tenderly into Marilla's eyes. "I'm not a bit changed-- not really. I'm only just pruned down and branched out. The real me--back here--is just the same. It won't make a bit of difference where I go or how much I change outwardly; at heart I shall always be your little Anne, who will love you and Matthew and dear Green Gables more and better every day of her life."

Anne laid her fresh young cheek against Marilla's faded one, and reached out a hand to pat Matthew's shoulder. Marilla would have given much just then to have possessed Anne's power of putting her feelings into words; but nature and habit had willed it otherwise, and she could only put her arms close about her girl and hold her tenderly to her heart, wishing that she need never let her go.

As I read, I felt tears stinging my eyes, and thought to myself how silly I am, I mustn't cry. Then I looked up at my little friend and saw tears streaming down her cheeks. Okay, it's not just me who was moved. :) When we finished, she looked up, eyes shining, and said, "That was an awesome chapter!"

And I realized that this is something that distinguishes a good book from a great book: the ability to make the reader feel. To make the characters so real that their feelings become ours. I wish that I had the ability to do that with words, to form characters that come to life and have an emotional impact on the reader. Is such a skill innate, or can it be learned, and if it can be learned, how?

Anyhow... we've nearly reached the end. I promised her months ago that if she could get through the entire book (because you should have seen the look on her face when I presented a book of that length, and then when she opened it and saw all the words!! the big words! huge words!), she could come over to my house and we'd watch the movie together. So it won't be long now until we do that, and that should be a fun night, watching such a great movie with someone else who really gets it. Because she does. There are certainly no complaints about it being too long or too hard now!

We're totally starting on Little House next. After getting through Anne of Green Gables, Little House should be a breeze for her! I just hope she loves them as much as I do.


Kate said...

A dear friend gifted me with the entire Anne series last year. I hadn't had any desire to read them ever before, but now when presented with them I picked them up. What a treasure!! The original was my favorite, but what a treat to get to go thru so many more books following Anne. The only thing more wonderful than the books is the friend who gave them to me. I shall be forever grateful for the gift of the books and the gift of friendship. :o)

Prairie Rose said...

Wow, what a great friend! ;o)

Christine said...

I love Anne! I somehow missed it as a child and started reading the series a few years ago. Then I bought the first one for a bunch of people whenever I would see it at a garage sale or book sale. NO ONE read it. Finally my dear friend called. She had just started it the night before and could not put it down! She could not believe she had waited so long!

Heidi said...

I'm looking forward to the day that I can read Anne to Alyssa and hope with all my heart that it will speak to her as it has to me. I love it for the same reasons you do and only wish that I could express myself in words like that too.

As it is, however, I'm enjoying watching Alyssa learn to love other books I read as a child including the Little House books (we've read the first 3 of the series) and now the Ramona books. I loved all of Beverly Cleary's books and am excited that Alyssa loves them as much as I do. And I especially like that she is now at an age that she enjoys chapter books, since I enjoy them more than picture books myself. I can hardly wait until she's finally learned to read herself and hope with all my heart to find her with a nose in a book as much as I was and still am!

kittyhox said...

I'll never forget the first time I watched Anne of Green Gables on PBS. It was broken into parts and I couldn't wait until the next segment.

My husband and visited PEI several years ago and when I purchased one of LM Montgomery's books that I hadn't read yet, the elderly woman who sold it to me said, "Oh, how I envy you that you get to read it for the first time!"

That's how I feel whenever I recommend the books and movies to someone unfamiliar with them.

And I still reread the books every few years! :)