9 things every girl needs to learn from Anne of Green Gables


I’m not the kind of parent who makes demands of my kids. I don’t sign my son up for football camp because every other boy in his class is in it. I won’t try to coerce my daughter into a tutu in the hope that she’ll become a pirouetting vision in pink.

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Some of what I learned from Anne of Green Gables (and its numerous sequels) I wasn’t actually aware of until I was an adult. Like any life-changing show (or film, or book), what it means to me and how it’s shaped my life has become clearer over time. I hope my daughter, too, learns some of these lessons from Anne with an “e.”

However, there are a few non-negotiables when it comes to books and movie/TV viewing. One of these is Anne of Green Gables. As soon as they’re old enough, I fully intend to sit them down and introduce them to the red-haired girl who was such a huge part of my own childhood. I say “them,” because I hope my boy will enjoy it too. But for a young girl (I think 10 to 12 is the perfect age to meet Anne Shirley for the first time), it’s one of those series that can have an enormous impact on the way she views the world — and herself.

1. Make having fun a priority

Sometimes, maybe even a lot of the time, the world is a crappy place. Too often, all the difficult, depressing, painful stuff gets in the way of having fun. So when the opportunity for fun does fall into your lap, scoop it up and hold onto it for as long as you can. Race down sand dunes with your best friend. Run into the sea (with our without clothes on.) Spend time with people you love and make them laugh. Have as much fun as you possibly can, because it’s a luxury.

9 things every girl needs to learn from Anne of Green Gables
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2. Never underestimate the power of daydreaming

Don’t get so bogged down in what you have to do — exams, jobs, bills, taxes, laundry — that you never have time to spend on what you long to do. Anne Shirley was a master daydreamer. Her love of poetry took her to places far from Green Gables. Give yourself permission to go to your places, wherever they may be.

9 things every girl needs to learn from Anne of Green Gables
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3. Everyone needs at least one kindred spirit in their life

It might be the friend you’ve had since you were too young to remember meeting for the first time. It might be the college roommate you instantly clicked with. It might be someone who doesn’t come into your life until much later — but when he or she does, you can’t imagine them not being there. True kindred spirits, like Anne and her “bosom friend” Diana, don’t come along every day, so when you find one, don’t ever let them go.

9 things every girl needs to learn from Anne of Green Gables

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4. Don’t be scared to buck the system

Anne didn’t worry about the opinions of other people, and was never scared to voice her own. When she first arrived at Green Gables, she didn’t believe in God, despite growing up in a predominantly Christian environment. And when she later changed her mind, she wasn’t ashamed about it.

9 things every girl needs to learn from Anne of Green Gables
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5. Never be afraid to show how much you love something

Anne Shirley was the original fangirl, and Tennyson and Noyes her heroes. The fact that her classmates didn’t share her love of poetry didn’t matter one bit. If you love something, shout about it. Never hide your passions from others because they feel differently.

9 things every girl needs to learn from Anne of Green Gables
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6. Always stand up for yourself

It might be the kid who teases you in the playground, the people who question your political beliefs or the boss who treats you differently than your male colleagues. Be brave in those moments. Stand tall and assert yourself. (Of course, violence in the classroom doesn’t really have a place in 2016, but go Anne.)

9 things every girl needs to learn from Anne of Green Gables
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7. It might take a long time for you to love the things that make you unique, but it will happen

You might not have red hair like Anne Shirley, but you will probably have more than a few beauty disasters in your time. Part of growing up is working out how to work with what you have. Go ahead and straighten out those beautiful curls. Pluck your eyebrows. Contour your face. Obsessively remove every hair from your body. But remember that you are beautiful just the way you are, and keep telling yourself that. Eventually, it will sink in. And the hair dye mistakes will become a funny, distant memory.

9 things every girl needs to learn from Anne of Green Gables


8. Be prepared to make sacrifices

You’ll always be the most important person in my room, but not in everyone else’s. One of the biggest lessons you can learn from Anne of Green Gables is how to be selfless and stay strong for those around you who are going through hard times. Anne delayed her education to stay at Green Gables and support Marilla after tragedy struck. To enable her to do so, Gilbert Blythe gave Anne his teaching appointment at Avonlea School. Making personal sacrifices is part of life, and it will make you a stronger person.

9 things every girl needs to learn from Anne of Green Gables
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9. Remember, this too shall pass

As you navigate from childhood to adolescence and into young adulthood, you may find the pressures of the world too much to bear. These feelings won’t last forever. Don’t fight against them — accept them for what they are: normal. Give yourself permission to have bad days and low moods. When you experience the full spectrum of life, the good days are all the brighter for having experienced some darkness.

Anne of Green Gables
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