Reliving Childhood through 3 Famous Female Children's Book Characters

One of the things I'm loving most about the challenges is that I get to answer questions like "who is your favorite character?" I guess they didn't specify whether or not it was a book, movie, or theatrical character, but as an advocate for reading (and especially children's literature) I'm going to list a few favorite fictional characters that I loved from my childhood.

1. Ramona Quimby from Beverly Cleary's Ramona Series 

Honestly I don't remember much about this series as a child, but I went back to read the series for a class in college, and I fell in love with this spunky children's character all over again! The problems she faces are so cute and funny! Beverly Cleary did a fantastic job of relating to young girls with a naive character that wasn't very well behaved and had a huge imagination. Plus, how can you not love a third grader who has to sign her Q's with a kitty cat face? Adorable. 

While I can't recommend the movie Ramona and Beezus, I did enjoy Sarah Polley's version of Ramona in the 1988 tv series now available on youtube. It is the perfect portrayal of a wild child with loving parents and an easily irritated sister: about what you would expect from the series. :)

2. Jo March from Louisa May Alcott's Little Women 

I picked up this book in early middle school when I was trying my best to read the thickest, oldest books available. Clearly I thought this book was an adult novel. Ha. Not so much. Nevertheless, this book captured my interest and I could not put it down. I have read it multiple times just because I love it sooo much! 

The story centers around Jo March, one of four very different sisters. Growing up during the Civil War, they face life without a father through much of the story. Their mother focuses on teaching them about domesticity: showing them how to sew, encouraging them to care for the needy, and allowing them to be individuals. As a poor family, their lives are very simple. Meg, the oldest sister, teaches; Beth has a strong interest in music and is very shy barely venturing out of her comfort zone; and Amy, the youngest, dreams of being kissed and loves art. The next door neighbor, Teddy Laurence, and his very wealthy family often supply the March girls with opportunities to attend balls and go to the theatre. 

Jo March is the most ambitious of all of the sisters, seeking out a career in writing. After turning down a proposal that would make her very rich, she ventures off to New York City to follow her chosen career path. She faces many stumbling blocks including editors that refuse to look at her work because she is female. Jo never gives up though. It seems almost providence when she meets a professor who helps her hone and develop her skill.

As a young adult, I loved reading about Jo's ambition. Not only did she break tradition of merely becoming a homemaker, but she followed her dreams to achieve her goals. I see the character of Jo March as an inspiration to all young women. Her story suggests that hard work and determination can get you anywhere.

Louisa Alcott wrote two books following the life of Jo March as she marries, settles down, has kids, and becomes a teacher, but I feel neither of the follow-up books do the series any justice.  

While I recommend reading the book first, if you have to watch a movie adaption of this book, I suggest the 1994 version with Winona Ryder, Susan Sarandon, Kirsten Dunst, Claire Danes, and Christian Bale. I think no one plays Jo March better than Winona Ryder. :)

3. Anne Shirley of Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables 

I was actually much older, in high school, when I was introduced to the Anne of Green Gables series. My best friend and I strongly disagreed on book choices, I preferred Little Women, she preferred Anne of Green Gables. Inevitably, I found a place in my heart for both. :) 

Anne Shirley was an orphan sent to an unsuspecting, aging brother and sister who thought they were adopting a boy to help with farm work on a farm in Canada. In the end though, they cannot imagine life without their spunky red head who insists on being called "Anne with an e". Anne gets into a lot of trouble as a child; in the end, she gets everything right pursuing college to become a teacher before marrying her best friend. The Anne of Green Gables series is quite long (8 novels) and goes into much detail following Anne's life (and those of her children) as she grows and changes throughout the years. 

One of my favorite book-to-movie adaptations is definitely Kevin Sullivan's Canadian really long made-for-tv Anne of Green Gables movies. (There are 3.) I really enjoy Megan Follows rendition of Anne as she grows, changing the character from spunky and imaginative to mature and level-headed.

I held tightly to these books, reading them over and over and over again, taking in what I loved most about my favorite characters, learning from their mistakes, and gaining new insights into my world "because when you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your life does" (You've Got Mail movie).

What are your favorite childhood books?

If you get a chance today or in the weeks to come, I recommend picking up a childhood favorite and reading it again just for fun. You'll be surprised what you have forgotten and even more surprised at what you remember. Plus, I guarantee you will love it just as much or more than you did as a child!

** This post is thanks to NaBloPoMo, offering bloggers tips on blogging, monthly blogging prompts, and chances to win prizes! :)

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