A week ago today was a bookish watershed in our home. I gave Lulu my much-loved and much-read copy of Anne of Green Gables. I did not do this lightly. In fact, it followed a heavy and tearful conversation between the two of us over “cool kids” and cell phones, the way our family does things and the way others do them. Heavy stuff. The stuff that makes parenting heartwrenching and exhausting. The stuff that makes being a kid hard. Somehow I knew it was the right time to give her the book then that has shaped me more than any other save the Bible. Even as I compose this on a Sunday night, she has just closed Anne’s House of Dreams, just a few chapters in at bedtime, having devoured the first four books in the series (plus the latest Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place novel) in a week. While my preference would’ve been for her to read the first couple of books and then hold off on the more mature books a few years, the time was right last Monday to introduce her to Anne, and I’m not the kind of mama to stop the momentum of such a wonderful series. What I’m after here is the shaping of her moral imagination, a term I have been oblivious to up until the past few months. I want her to realize that life offers more than the latest techno-fad. I want her to set her sights high and become her best self, not someone who worries over much what the cool crowd is doing. I don’t know a better way to do that than give her fictional friends who, through all their mistakes and foibles, set their sights high, too.
Also of note: Louise went to bed reading Where the Red Fern Grows, so it has been a watershed week all the way around.
**I feel I should offer a disclaimer here: this is not an outright indictment of technology in the hands of pre-teens, but merely a commentary on our own family’s ideas and how we work them out practically in our own lives.