I am an Optimist.
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:
“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! ~