In middle school, I made it my personal mission to read as many of the classic children’s books as I could lay my hands on. I eagerly devoured The Little Princess, Jungle Book (that I’d been reading since 3rd grade), Pollyanna, and the Wizard of Oz series. I reread most of these books over and over again. I’m fairly sure I read Pollyanna a dozen times in middle school. I quite looked forward to reading Pollyanna with my kids, and we listened to the audiobook on a road trip. So our Pollyanna book club was a bit different from our other book and movie nights because they never cracked the book open.
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What is Pollyanna about?
Pollyanna follows a young orphan who goes to live with her spinster aunt. When she moves to the town she teaches each person in the town how to look at their lives in a different way, causing the entire town to cheer up.
I love the message in this book, and it’s a great way to talk about how you handle setbacks.
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Pollyanna Book Club snacks
We watched the Haley Mills Disney version of Pollyanna, which has a rather egregious change at the end of the movie, but otherwise, I quite enjoy it.
This time we didn’t particularly have a meal as we watched the movie. We probably could have made pot pies because there’s a lot of talk about visiting people and bringing them food, or chicken soup. But, here’s what we did have (labels are in the resource library, which you can get access to if you subscribe):
- Gladness game- Simple sugar cookies with smiley faces painted on
- Bread- I find it amusing how many books from the turn of the 20th century talk about “good wholesome bread.” It seems to of been a fascination of the late Victorian era.
- Stray dog- Pollyanna finds a home for a stray dog, so we had our favorite shortbread cookies
- Bricks- they talk a lot about building, and in specifics, there’s a passage with bricks, really I just think my kids wanted an excuse to get these lego candies they like
- Prisms- rock candy, and the prisms are a major plot point
- Crutches- the start of the gladness game, so we used straight pretzels
- Calf’s Foot jelly- I’m not really sure what that is, but I was pretty sure they wouldn’t eat the real version, so ours is punch using sherbert and Sprite
There is also apparently a made for TV version from the 80s with the races switched and most of the cast of the Cosby Show and Different World, which I just found out about. It’s cheesy as all get out, and watching it just now, I struggled with some of the changes they made with the doctor characters (if you watch it let me know what you think).
What to discuss with your Pollyanna book club
While Pollyanna is a simple book, there’s a lot you can discuss with a Pollyanna book club.
- Pollyanna chose joy. With everything she did, she chose to look at it in a joyful light. It’s a great challenge to give kids (and yourself)
- Pollyanna tries to get help for her friend, an orphan boy, but is told by the “Lady’s Aid Society” they can’t take the money they plan for the poor children in China to help him. How do we have a similar idea today?
- Pollyanna is one of the first books to put forth an idea that is very popular now, Random Acts of Kindness, what random acts of kindness have you done recently?
While, those are only three questions, two of them come up over and over again in the book, and are worth discussing over and over again as each has a different result.