The Pollyanna Side of Things on Writer Wednesday

I am an Optimist.

Photo of Eleanor H. Porter

Eleanor H. Porter
Born: December 19, 1868, Littleton
Died: May 21, 1920, Cambridge

Part of the reason may be that I grew up reading and re-reading the Pollyanna books. Eleanor H. Porter wrote the first Pollyanna, and the sequel, Pollyanna Grows Up. Pollyanna went on to have many adventures as first a young married woman, then a mom as well.  I learned how a girl could have ideals, and grow up still holding those ideals. The Glad Game wasn’t necessarily something I played in my childhood, but I did learn to look on the bright side of life and keep my focus there. For those of you who haven’t read the book, here’s the cover and the blurb:

First Edition cover of Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter
Published by L.C. Page; first edition cover, 1913

“Once you start looking for the happy things, you don’t think about the bad ones as much.” That’s the joyful way Pollyanna sees the world: no matter what happens, she plays her “Just Be Glad” game and finds the sunny side of any situation. But when she’s orphaned and forced to live with her rigid Aunt Polly, will high-spirited Pollyanna succeed in melting her Aunt’s cold heart?

My Copies Were From the 1940’s.

The first book was originally published in 1913; my copies were thick ones, bound in blue cloth, with lighter blue lettering, first owned by my mother. The thick paper pages are brown and brittle with age, but I had them on a bookshelf in every house I lived in until fifteen years ago, when bookshelf space was at a premium and my husband asked me, gently, to put away my girlhood books. I still yearn for them and at some point, I will get them out and put them back up on the bookshelf where they belong.

The Pollyanna books continued on, with Harriet Lummis Smith writing books three through six.  Elizabeth Borton wrote another five Glad books, as they were called. Pollyanna and her children lived in Mexico, Hollywood, Boston; many of those stories still live inside me. When I think of today’s girls, I think you’d have to get them started early on stories like these; say, around 9, which is when I first delved into the treasure trove of books that my mother had managed to keep from her childhood. The Pollyanna books are sweet, simple, focused on community, helping each other and looking on the bright side. Even as Pollyanna grows, and her troubles grow to adult size, she still holds to community, helping each other, and looking on the bright side. Maybe today’s kids need more flash-bang in their fiction; maybe the books are too old-fashioned; but at this point, they do have a “historical” feel to them, which may serve to catch their interest.

If you have young girls, or nieces, or friends who have young girls, I urge you to introduce them to Pollyanna and the Glad books. Their parents will love you for it, and your influence may well be felt long after the child has grown. (I tried to get my sons to read them; they would have nothing to do with the books!)

Which classic novels did you read as a kid, and that still resonate with you today? I’d love to know!

~ Until the next time, cheers! ~


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About Christine

Writer of paranormal, contemporary, and erotic romance. Find me on Amazon...
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8 Responses to The Pollyanna Side of Things on Writer Wednesday

  1. Sam Beck says:

    I went through a big Judy Blume phase in elementary school. And you know what? I do kinda wish I still had my paperback copy of “Otherwise Known As Sheila The Great”.

    • Christine says:

      Sam, I never did get into Judy Blume. I think probably because I had all my mother’s old books – Eight Cousins and A Rose in Bloom are two of my favorites (I think by L.M. Montgomery but not sure). Then I skipped from those books (and Nancy Drew, of course) to Harlequins…completely missing the Judy Blume phase. Oh well…I guess it didn’t hurt me, lol!

  2. Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea, about a creative, highly imaginative, and high spirited young woman growing up on Prince Edward Island, Canada. I found a Kindle edition recently and was delighted to learn the charm of the stories held up well—and that there were many sequels, though not all as good as the first few books. One thing that I appreciated more now than I did as a child is the depth of the writing. For “children’s” books, the reading level is higher than most adult popular fiction today and both characters and landscape are vividly drawn. Highly recommended!

    • Christine says:

      Teresa, I too loved those books. I had quite a few. Did you know that Anne and Gilbert had a baby daughter that died at birth? Too sad…I don’t remember which book that was in, but I read almost all of them. Well, all the ones my Mom passed down to me…

  3. Christine, how refreshing! I ask this question, why is it necessary for young girls today to strictly read flash-bang, as you so appropriately put it? Why can’t they read books like Pollyanna? Or Anne of Green Gables as Teresa just mentioned. I think it is the something that is quite lacking in their education today. Go ahead and call me old-fashioned. I don’t care. I keep hearing from different parents that the innocence of their children are gone. Well then, why not introduce them to the classic books and give them an appreciation for the less flash-banging stories first. There is plenty of time later on for those kinds of stories. In fact, that’s all there practically is. 🙂

    • Christine says:

      Karen, I have no idea. I don’t know why parents aren’t pointing their children to these classics; for me, my mom brought a couple boxes down from the attic when I was nine, and it was off to the races. Several of the original Nancy Drews, Anne of Green Gables, Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom, An Old Fashioned Girl, of course Little Women, Little Men, Jo’s Boys…so many wonderful books. I also have all of the Frank L. Baum Oz books, hopefully still safely tucked away in the garage.

      I do know that writing that type of book these days, and finding a publisher, is difficult. But I know the audience is there. There are Grandmas and Aunts who’d love to give their girl-childrens something wholesome to eat – “and Polly nibbled on the tasteless biscuit while the good, honest ginger cake crumbled in her pocket”. (From An Old Fashioned Girl – by memory, so it’s probably quite wrong, lol!) Thanks so much for stopping by!

  4. Sarah says:

    Just-So Stories by Rudyard Kipling. The Winnie-the-Pooh books (and poetry) by A. A. Milne. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. My Book House, a series of 12 volumes of stories and poetry. A Child’s Garden of Verses by R. L. Stevenson. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell.

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane. It’s been over 60 years….

  5. Sarah says:

    Reading over the comments, yes, Little Women (and sequels) and The Wizard of Oz (and sequels). And of course (how could I forget!) The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.

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