The Secret Garden
by Frances Hodgson Burnett, first published 1910
“Of course, there must be lots of Magic in the world, but people don’t know what it is like or how to make it. Perhaps the beginning is just to say nice things are going to happen until you make them happen.”
Oh, how I love this book. Spare me any movies, audio books, cartoons, abridged versions. The full, very lightly illustrated hardcover children’s book is the real thing. Something to take to bed, and savor each word. It deserves all the accolades it has gotten for the past century, as the details in the book, the unfolding of nature, and the unfolding of the children’s nature along with it, is breathtakingly beautiful.
I wondered, as I read it, what children would most appreciate in this children’s book. Some of the descriptions of nature may not resonate with younger children. However, the words weave a blanket of magic so that even though the vocabulary is challenging, the sense of it all comes through.
However, most any child will be able to relate to the temperaments of the main characters. The tantrums of Colin, the original bossy nature of Mary, and the wild, untamed Dickon, are all so real, so recognizable, and so timeless in their accuracy. That to me is the real staying power of the book. It’s impossible not to see oneself as if in a mirror when you read this.
It’s probably true that children growing up in the country side of England would be able to get more out of the natural world…there are not very many moors in the USA. However, the glimpse of another culture is well worth the excursion.
This is a very long children’s book. That being said, if you have an inquisitive child, you could attempt to do a read-aloud with it. Let me know if you ever do. I think it would be magical.
Pick your version carefully. I recommend the version with illustrations by Tasha Tudor, in hardback.