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Library event sparks new fans for old book
Apr 27, 2012 - By Emily Etheredge, Staff Writer
In Louisa May Alcott's 1868 novel "Little Women," sisters Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March bond with their mother through various life challenges.
Almost a century and a half later, the Little Women book discussion group at Riverton Branch Library gave mothers and daughters the opportunity to bond while talking about the book.
The Friends of the Library purchased abridged copies of "Little Women" in February and gave them to girls aged 7 to 10 in advance of the meeting Saturday, April 21, at Riverton Branch Library.
Sandi Hussa, a member of the children's support staff, thought the event would be a good activity for mothers and daughters.
"We wanted to do something for our older girls and thought starting them off with a classic was a good idea,"Hussa said.
Riverton resident Pat Hardt was excited about the book discussion, because she has a set of Alcott's books with a copyright date of 1898 that she inherited from her grandmother.
"These books are over 114 years old, and I remember reading them as a little girl," Hardt said.
Hardt brought the set of delicate books to the event and shared them with everyone present.
"I never knew where my grandmother got the books, but they are a wonderful keepsake for me because I grew up reading these and am very thankful I still have them," Hardt said.
Library staff asked the girls to journal while reading the book by picking out favorite quotes, interesting characters or special sections of the book they enjoyed.
Nine-year-old Anja Harms' favorite character was Amy March, because she was an artist in the book and enjoyed creating things.
"My favorite part of the book was when Amy got her foot caught in the plaster," Anja said.
It was the first time Anja's mom, Lydia, had read the book. She said she thought the book's descriptions of the Marchs' home life were really important, because the March family had to learn how to be frugal during difficult times, and this struggle brought them closer together. Harms said children these days sometimes think more about how things will affect them rather than how they might affect others.
"The book was a wonderful example of how children can help other people. The section where the girls were asked to give up their Christmas breakfast to help neighbors in need made me think about whether or not that would go over well if I were to suggest that in my family," Harms said.
The girls also made felt handbags and attached buttons, lace, fabric squares, and decorated them with their moms to recreate something the March girls would have made in the book.
Children's department manager Katy Jost said the craft idea came from wanting the girls to use materials that would have been recycled.
"The setting of the book at the end of the Civil War would have required the girls to use things they would have already had and we thought making handbags would be using materials the March girls would have had," Jost said.
Nine-year-old Marisela Marrufo felt the book was really entertaining and found Amy March to be her favorite character.
"The book was really good and I loved when the girls decided to give away the food they were planning to eat for Christmas to someone else who needed it more," Marrufo said.
Library staff would like to see more book discussions that involve families coming together over pieces of literature and felt as if the "Little Women" event was a good bonding experience between mothers and daughters.