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Wholesome family movies: ‘Anne of Green Gables’



Theresa Civantos Barber - published on 07/17/23

As a mom of four, I’m always on the lookout for great movies that the whole family can watch together! This is one of our favorites.

As a mom of four, I’m always on the lookout for great movies that the whole family can watch together.

It can be harder than you might think to find a good one! My younger kids scare easily (even Tarzan and Finding Nemo are too much for them, owing to upsetting opening scenes of violent deaths). Shows and movies like Daniel Tiger and Winnie the Pooh are more their speed, but my older kids don’t want to watch these again and again.

Knowing the story first

Something that really helps my younger kids is knowing what will happen in the movie before watching it. I usually briefly outline the plot, especially warning them of any parts they might deem scary — assuring them it will all turn out OK in the end.

One tactic I’ve embraced is reading a book as a family and then watching the movie adaptation. This strategy helps the younger kids to be familiar with the story, so they aren’t scared or upset by every little plot twist that comes up. And it’s a fun way to reward the older kids for finishing a challenging book.

We’ve done these book-to-movie watches for many, many books, including A Little Princess, The Secret Garden, Harry Potter, The Wind in the Willows, The Hobbit, and The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. (Here’s a giant list of book-to-movie adaptations if you need some inspiration!)

Our favorite movie

Out of all these book-to-movie adaptations, however, there is one that we love most. It’s the 1985 Anne of Green Gables, with Megan Follows and Jonathan Crombie. 

The Anne of Green Gables love goes back decades: My husband and I both watched it many times growing up and count it as one of our favorite films. Recently we decided to share the movie with our kids for the first time, and we couldn’t have been more excited!

First I prepared them by reading an abridged version of the story from Classic Starts. They listened to an audiobook version too, several times, until they were very familiar with the plot.

Before watching it, I warned them that some scenes are a little scary (at least by the standards of my sensitive kiddos). At least two characters die on screen, and numerous adults speak harshly and cruelly to Anne, who is just a child. There is a scene in which a child accidentally gets drunk, and a few other moments of mild peril and conflict. But overall, this is truly one of the best movies ever made. 

Clocking in at 3 hours 19 minutes long, this movie might take a few viewings (we watched it over two afternoons of a rainy weekend). But every minute is well worth it. After we finished it, my six-year-old daughter declared it “the best movie ever.”

Discussion questions

If you’d like to go deeper into the story, here are a few things you might like to discuss as a family.

  • When Anne comes to Green Gables, she’s never had a family or even a real friend. Have you ever had an imaginary friend as she does? What does Anne’s story teach us about welcoming and befriending newcomers?
  • A lot of adults (Mrs. Hammond, Rachel Lynde, Mr. Phillips, Marilla and others) are very rude and harsh to Anne. Is it OK to talk to another person like that, whatever their age? Why or why not?
  • Anne is very driven to succeed in school. Why does she care so much about getting a good education? What does her story teach us about the importance of learning?
  • Gilbert’s decision to make fun of Anne the first day he met her led to him missing out on friendship with her for years. What does this teach us about how we should treat other people?
  • Anne lived a hard life before she came to Green Gables, but in some ways these years prepared her to face later challenges, like when she knew how to save Minnie May from the croup. Have you ever done something hard that prepared you for another challenge later on?
  • What are some ways that Anne, Marilla, and other characters change over the course of the movie?
  • Matthew loves and accepts Anne from the very beginning. What can we learn from him about how to treat others, especially family members?

    I hope you love and enjoy this movie as much as we do!

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