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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Top 100 Children’s Novels (#9)

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (1908)
(#1)(#1)(#1)(#1)(#1)(#1)(#1)(#1) (#1)(#1)(#1)(#1)(#2)(#2)(#2)(#2) (#2)(#2)(#2)(#2)(#2)(#2)(#3)(#3) (#3)(#3)(#4)(#4)(#4)(#4)(#4)(#4) (#4)(#5)(#5)(#5)(#5)(#5)(#6)(#7) (#7)(#7)(#7)(#7)(#8)(#8)(#9)(#9) (#9)(#9)(#10)(#10)(#10)(#10)(#10) – 365 points

Without her feminism wouldn’t have made sense. Every character, every setting, every scene, is by turns uproariously hilarious, deeply touching, inspirational, and memorable. Anne Shirley is the spunkiest and, in my opinion, best heroine of all time. – Billy

Pretty much the gold standard for historical fiction with a dreamy-eyed, book-loving firebrand of a protagonist whose imagination gets her up to no good. You can’t throw a rock into a library without hitting a host of Anne wannabes. And it’s also possible that you can’t throw a rock into a children’s literature conference without hitting a passel of ladies who ARE Anne Shirley. It’s not just a book, it’s a lifestyle. Plus, I have to respect any character with a compulsive drive to emphasize the silent e at the end of her name. (Did I mention my name was Brooke-with-an-e?) – Brooke Shirts (Casa Camisas)

If my childhood self was Ramona, Anne is who I wanted to be. If at some point I don’t get to put on a dress with puffed sleeves and run down the White Way of Delight to the Lake of Shinning Waters, my life will be a pale shadow of what it should be. After reading this for the first time at the age of 12 or 13 I re-read and re-read the passage where Gilbert finds Anne stranded under the bridge. So much romance for my little twitterpated heart! Although the rest of the series can’t compare to the first I have read them all through several times. I am enchanted by the Victorian delicacy of the language, particularly when Anne is pregnant. What “secret smiles” and “small hopes for the future” can covey in reference to biology. – DaNae (The Librariest)

After becoming acquainted with Anne I immediately began to divide the world into ‘kindreds’ and ‘non-kindreds’ and started looking for my Gilbert Blythe. (Forget Mr. Darcy! Give me Gilbert anyday.) – Jennifer Sauls

Why is Anne so eternally awesome? Is it because we wish we could have a friend just like Anne or that we wish we could BE her? I spent most of my childhood looking for "my Diana Barry" and when I finally found her, it turned out I was HER Diana Barry instead, because she was obviously the Anne of the two of us. So having a friend like Anne is the more awesome option, I think. You avoid having to face most of the embarrassing traumas head-on that way. – A.M. Weir (Amy’s Library of ROCK)

I’m Canadian. It’s kind of my duty to love this. I was obsessed as a kid. – Stacy Dillon, Lower School Librarian, LREI – Little Red School House & Elisabeth Irwin High School

L.M. Montgomery, to my mind, single-handedly destroys the notion that authors give themselves initials as their first names so as to throw off potential male readers who wouldn’t want a book penned by a woman.  Is there any book in this world girlier than Anne of Green Gables?  Or, for that matter, any other of Ms. Montgomery’s works?  Be that as it may be, tis a fine novel for both the boy and girl set.  Aside from Pippi Longstocking, there’s no other literary redhead of quite the same tomboyish aspects as our Anne.

How it came to be:  In 100 Best Books for Children by Anita Silvey we learn that when Ms. Montgomery began writing the book she, "first intended the story to be a mere seven chapters long, ideal for a serial treatment in a Sunday school paper."  That plan quickly fell by the wayside and so she submitted it to several publishers.  It was rejected multiple times, and according to What Katy Read, after she got four rejections in a row, "Montgomery put the manuscript in an old hat-box, intending at some later date to cut it back to its original proportions. But she changed her mind when she rediscovered the forgotten work in the winter of 1906, and decided to try it out once more."  So it reached L.C. Page and Company.  They offered her "either an outright fee of $500 or a royalty of 9 cents a book."  Thank the heavens above she went with the royalty.  Her first royalty check = $1730.  The book was an instant hit.

Obviously the publisher wanted sequels and she obliged, though she would say that the, "freshness of the idea was gone . . . I simply built it. Anne, grown-up, couldn’t be made as quaint and unexpected as the child Anne." Seven books would follow, but they never quite lived up to the first.

Book #1 remains hugely beloved.  Indeed as recently as December 2009 a first edition of this book sold at auction for $37,500.  This smashed the previous child vintage children’s novel record of a mere $24,000.  Sotheby’s also auctioned off the book in 2005, but that sale was marred slightly by the fact that they referred to the title as "a beloved American children’s book." One must assume that the Canadians were NOT pleased.

There haven’t been any sequels by other folks, partly because Montgomery was clever enough to write them herself.  There was, however, a recent prequel.  In conjunction with Anne’s 100th birthday, Budge Wilson wrote Before Green Gables.  It met with mixed reviews, though many folks liked it.  It has, however, largely been forgotten since its publication.

  • I do believe you can visit Lucy Maud Montgomery’s house if you like.

The longer a perennially popular book has been around, the more difficult it is to find all the covers.  This is just a small selection of what I found.  For a complete collection of covers, go to The Green Gables Project.  In this tiny sample you’ll find:

The funniest of the bunch:

Anne as hippie dippy flower child.

And from overseas:

Periodically the book gets filmed.  Not as often as Little Women or anything, but continually just the same.  First there was the 1919 version.  Not on YouTube, obviously, but you can listen to the theme if you really want to.  Back in 1934 there was this version, directed by George Nichols Jr.:

Then came a 1956 version, but that’s probably best left forgotten.  No, the Anne that is undeniably the best there is, bar none, came in 1985.  It was produced for television, brilliantly cast, and when people of my generation think of the book it’s hard not to conjure up Megan Follows’ face.

I call this the superfastspoilerific version of the series. 

And, of course, there was the inevitable Japanese animated series.  One of the stranger openings of a television show I’ve seen, though kind of nice.

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. Hurrah! My red-headed heroine. Three cheers for Anne!

  2. Jennifer in GA says

    I got teary-eyed when this popped up this morning, because I just love these books SO MUCH. (Anne of the Island is actually my favorite- has college life ever sounded so much fun??)

    I love the first “Anne” movie, and I understand and am okay with the changes made to the second movie (the proposal scene at the beginning and bridge scene at the end make up for any shortcomings the movie might have).

    However, Kevin Sullivan should be made to give back EVERY SINGLE PENNY he ever made off of L. M. Montgomery’s characters because of The-Movie-Which-Shall-Not-Be-Named AKA the third Anne movie AKA “The Voldy Movie” as me and my kindreds call it. Oh my gosh it is SO AWFUL I get all worked up in a rage just thinking about it.

  3. rockinlibrarian says

    Oh, I knew in the back of my head that today would be the day for one of my own favorites, because it’s my birthday and fate would be nice to me that way… but still when it came up I thought “Wait, only number NINE?!” I still have a theory that nobody doesn’t LOVE Anne. You might not like her at ALL, but if you DO like her, you like her with a fiery passion the likes of which she herself would have. Therefore I kind of expected everyone who liked her AT ALL to have also voted for her, at least for their tenth place…

    Reading all the personal statements at the beginning, you think, “Oh, look at all the kindred spirits!” And then you realize you wouldn’t have had that thought to begin with without Anne!

  4. rockinlibrarian says

    Also, you’re right: she looks exactly like Megan Follows. Anyone who says otherwise is WRONG.

  5. Mrs. Mordecai says

    What? There’s a Norton Critical Edition of Anne? Sign me up!

  6. Jim (Teacherninja) says

    My wife has a passion for Anne and now I have it as well. Our daughter (7) has yet to read it but loves the abridged versions and the character. Truly one of the best characters in fiction.

  7. I’m so glad this is here. I read Anne of Green Gables this year for the first time, at the recommendation of my husband’s grandmother, who loves to tell us how her teacher read this book to the class every day and both boys and girls absolutely loved it. It was this book that made her fall in love with reading and she still loves reading at age 97.

  8. Kate Coombs says

    I think what I like best about Anne is how imaginatively melodramatic she is. She made me feel better about how seriously I took myself and everything that happened to me when I was a child.

    It was weird seeing those first few covers, since of course Anne is much younger in the first book, as is better shown in the later covers. And I will confess that a few years ago, three friends and I stayed up ALL NIGHT watching the entire Megan Follows Anne series on DVD!

  9. Anyone else notice how huge the jump has been in the weighted vote total for the last few books – today it’s nearly 75 points over #10 … makes sense I guess as the top ten would have to have been near the top of most people’s top ten.

    Monica, thanks – I thought I was the only one who didn’t encounter Anne until well into adult years, so don’t have that childhood passion that others do. But she was surely in my prediction list for the top ten, if not my personal list.

  10. I read about Anne for the first time in the fifth grade and became obsessed with trying to be like her. So glad I wasn’t the only one! I can’t wait till I have kids of my own so that I can read about Anne to them.

  11. I was close at least . . . I had Anne down for #10. Can’t wait to see what the rest of the list holds.

  12. I read Anne as a young girl and fell head over heals. Her independent spirit, her sense of justice and her unbounded imagination served as a model for me for years, shaping me into the person I am today.

  13. Mandaladreamer says

    Okay, that’s weird about the covers. While I own three of the “funniest” hardcovers from the series, I’m pretty sure my original was a Puffin paperback from the late 60’s, and it’s not shown on their site, either.
    Gonna have to dig that deteriorating paperback copy out and take a look.
    Those Emily of New Moon books were awfully good, too, though I didn’t find those until I was an adult.
    I had put Anne higher up on my list, but that’s okay! I just hope she’s still getting the readers she deserves.

  14. Jennifer Schultz says

    I think I read the Anne series in middle school; I adored the books and the series. I reread the entire series in honor of the 100th anniversary, and while I was disappointed that I didn’t love the later books as much as the first two, it was still such a treat to revisit the characters. We have a teenage patron working her way through Montgomery’s books (we don’t have every book, but she’s learning the value of interlibrary loans!), and it’s fun chatting with her about the books (and learning about the books I haven’t read).

    I also watched the miniseries during the major snowstorm (I live in VA) in February; that was fun. I recently rented several Tales From Avonlea DVDs from Netflix; very sweet and cozy, which is just what I needed!

    Did anyone read The Blythes Are Quoted? It seems like that disappeared very quickly; I can’t order it from Amazon, and it looks like very few libraries ordered it.

  15. Anne Ursu says

    I think Anne was my #1, as it should be for an Anne-spelled-with-an-e. Not only is Megan Follows the perfect Anne, Richard Farnsworth is so Matthew that I can picture nothing else in my head. I teared up just seeing him in that commercial.

  16. The day after I sent in my top ten, I was ready to kick myself for forgetting Anne. (I’m sure Marilla would have something to say about acting in haste and repenting at leisure!) I have loved all the Anne books all my life and, just yesterday, I found my 16-year old daughter reading Anne of the Island for about the 5th time! We agree with Jennifer — AOTI is our fave!

  17. You left out the best part about the 1934 film. The actress who played Anne changed her name to Anne Shirley for that film & subsequent films.

  18. Sue Fisher says

    I had hoped it would be 1 or 2 but then I live in Atlantic Canada and work within the children’s literary tradition here.

    For a fantastic take on the impact of Anne of Green Gables, written by a brilliant PEI personal blogger, go here:

  19. For some reason, for my childhood full of books of every kind, I didn’t read Anne of Green Gables until I was an adult. Thankfully, Anne was no less a wonder. I don’t know if Anne, Diana and Gilbert will ever be as dear to me as Mary Lennox, Colin and Dickon (still crossing my fingers for Secret Garden!), but they grow in my adoration all the time.


  20. Noooo! How can Anne be only Number Nine? Did not enough kindred spirits vote?

    Oh well, Anne, you’re Number One in my heart. (Well, okay, the truth is you’re right up there with Emily of New Moon, but I knew she wouldn’t win.)

  21. Jennifer in GA, you are a true kindred spirit. I agree with all you say from Anne of the Island to the abominable third movie. (Anyone who’s read Rilla of Ingleside would know LMM would be appalled at Anne as a pacifist!)

    I knew my red-haired college roommate would be a good roommate when I saw the Anne books on her shelf! We aspired to make our dorm room a Patty’s Place. We called it Colleen’s Corner and Sondy’s Snuggery.

    I actually didn’t read the Anne books until 10th grade — and then fell totally in love. They were such a breath of fresh air after the adult books I’d been reading. Slowly, over the years, more and more of LMM’s books came into print. A friend visited PEI when I was an adult with a new baby at home and brought me back some books. I read THE BLUE CASTLE that afternoon at work, pretending to be grading papers! It is now my favorite of all the LMM books, but it was actually written for adults.

  22. I met Jonathan Crombie after one of his musicals, and he said that he and Megan Follows only signed up to do the third movie because they hoped to be able to sway it towards something better. They were sad to fail.

    Anne is my book and my heroine and I love her madly. I’ve been rereading this books since third grade and I doubt I’ll ever stop. When I was in college, I could only bring a handful of books for my dorm and Anne of the Island stayed the entire year! My dorm was across from the cemetery and I would wander and study there just like Anne.

  23. Oh how I adore Anne! I loved these books so much as a child and I love them even more as an adult. I was talking to a friend about our love for Anne and she pointed out that no matter how old you are or where you are in life, there’s always an Anne book for you. This remains my all time favorite book.

  24. On my top 10 prediction list, I had Anne down as number 10, not because I didn’t think it warrented a higher placement, but because I figured that, while it would place high on many girls’/womens’ lists, it wouldn’t even be on the lists of many boys/men.

    My prediction was that the same factors would affect the placment of Little Women, which I had pegged at 9….can’t wait to see where it actually comes in!

  25. Well, Little Women came in at #25 on the poll already. Perhaps men read more Montgomery than Alcott?

  26. At last, Anne! I loved this series, and owned every book L.M. Montgomery every wrote. My patient husband and I went to Prince Edward Island for our honeymoon and saw Green Gables, LMM’s birthplace, the house LMM lived in with her grandparents, and the musical based on “Anne of Green Gables”, which runs all summer, ever summer in Charlottetown.

  27. Like many here, I’ve loved the Anne books since I first read them in grade school. I still re-read them all the time (haven’t read Windy Poplars in a long time and I think it’s time to revisit it). When I was grown up, I discovered the final two Anne books, Rainbow Valley and Rilla of Ingleside, and I think Rilla is one of her best. What a picture of a country at war and how it changed everyone’s life in so many ways – even provincial Susan learning the names of Belgian and French cities and all of them following the news desperately.

    Anne is definitely the most beloved of Montgomery’s heroines for me, but I also join the above-mentioned love for The Blue Castle (an adult book) and I quite like Jane of Lantern Hill. No love for Pat of Silver Bush, though, even though I occasionally re-read it.

    Megan Follows, Colleen Dewhurt and Richard Farnsworth are absolutely note-perfect as Anne, Marilla and Matthew.

    I was very skeptical of “Before Green Gables,” but it was very well done and I enjoyed it – I would recommend to fellow kindred spirits.

  28. But, the question Betsy, is did anyone correctly guess Anne coming in at number nine? I sadly did not, as I am biased in my love for her, and I hoped to see her higher on the list. (However, nine is still quite respectable!)

  29. I’ve been amused by the comments of others bemoaning the placement (or lack thereof) of their favorites on this list. Do they really expect the whole world to feel the same as themselves about their favorite books? I myself put two books on my list that I didn’t expect to have universal endorsement. And then here I am this morning facing Anne at number 9.

    Clearly there has been a great miscarriage of justice!

    I understand that among Betsy’s readers there will be a large section that will have no use for Anne: the obvious, but not conclusive, gender gap, youngsters who do not have the brain development to value true radiance over super powers, and even those who might find our heroine a bit too precious for their taste. But I was convinced that all who loved Anne enough to give her a spot on their lists would honor her at the premium spot. I was so sure of my reasoning that I backed it up with math. Clearly one third of all poll participants would love Anne; we are dealing with a selective and exceptional bunch after all. If all of team Anne put her at the #1, #2 or #3 spot, using my finely honed calculator skills, I had her well over 700 points. Obviously that would give her the #1 rank overall. I don’t know how you can dispute the facts? I did math and everything? Luckily it didn’t require geometry, as Anne would not have approved.

  30. I agree, Anne should have been higher. No matter what life throws at her, she faces it with such passion. I watched all 14 segments of the 1934 version on youtube from Betsy’s link. I smiled the whole time.

  31. Brooke Shirts says

    “youngsters who do not have the brain development to value true radiance over super powers” – DaNae, you are AWESOME.

    As for me, I’m just pleased as punch to see Anne in the top 10 at all. Hooray!

  32. YES! YES! YES! I too am so thrilled to see Anne in the top 10!

  33. Can’t believe they made her a light-skinned redhead.

  34. David Ziegler says

    I’m delighted to see Anne in the top 10. A decade ago we visited PEI and saw LMM and Anne sites including the invented Victoria farmhouse along with many Japanese tourists since Anne is used in Japan to teach English. The best site was the home of her maternal granparent where she was raised. I recommend a trip to PEI for all kindred spirits!

  35. “Fuse #8 commented:

    Well, Little Women came in at #25 on the poll already. Perhaps men read more Montgomery than Alcott?”

    Oops! My mistake…I meant to say I had Secret Garden at #9 (which I did), not Little Women! (I shouldn’t post before that second cup of coffee)

  36. Trivia: the Japanese version is simply titled, “Red-Haired Anne”

  37. Yay! Anne is my kindred soul (along with Emily) and I am so excited to see this in the top 10! I read and reread the Anne and Emily series at least 100 times as a kid. I’m rereading Anne of Green Gables right now, hoping to pass it on to some of my students.

  38. Oh, sadness. <> I knew I wouldn’t get the line-up right, but I thought maybe at least the players?!
    I must have been looking at books that come later in the series when I saw Powell’s “YA” classification. Surely this is some sort of cosmic retribution for my never having been a fan of Anne.

  39. RM1(SS) (ret) says

    First published in 1908? Hadn’t realized it was that old! It really has been on my to-read list for a long time, and I had it correctly at #9 on my top-ten prediction. Not much else to say….

    Oh – my favourite cover is the one with the brown dress and the apples (right below the first French one), though the Polish and German covers are nice, too. And I wonder what the second novel in that German book is. The second Green Gables story (whatever that is), I suppose?

  40. Scrumptious says

    I’m one of the people who let you guys down. Anne is very dear to me, and definitely one of my favorite children’s books of all time, but she didn’t make it to my top ten – maybe because I feel like she doesn’t have crossover appeal for most boys?

    I still got tears in my eyes when I saw her here today, just as I did for Half Magic, which I also left off my own list. I’m actually looking at my list now and wondering who the heck wrote it. I picked Island of the Blue Dolphins over Anne of Green Gables??? I guess I was going for variety…

    This is the first time a beloved book has been posted and “my” cover wasn’t there. The cover with Anne at the train station with her carpet bag has the “correct” font, but the image is all wrong!

  41. children's/YA librarian says

    Hooray for Anne! I first read the books when I was 10 and fell madly in love with her. She was so like me as a child and so I identified with her greatly. I even told my husband that I wanted to be proposed to on a bridge ala the miniseries, and thankfully, he listened! (I would have said “Yes” anyway!) I still haven’t made it to PEI, but I will.

    I’m surprised this wasn’t higher on the list, but it’s great to see it here at all. Whenever anyone asks me about my favorite books, Anne is always on the tip of my tongue. And if I have a daughter, her first or middle name will be spelled properly… with an “e.”

    (Now, where’s the book cover with Megan Follows on it? That’s the best cover in my opinion!)

  42. Mary Ann says

    It is not that there weren’t enough kindred spirits to put Anne in the top three (or number one)…it’s that some of us kindred spirits, kind of forgot…(which maybe makes me NOT a kindred spirit…although I have worn out at least four copies of AOGG).
    Forgive me Anne. (Now kicking self).


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