Heidi by Johanna Spyri
Kansas Dad was shocked to discover I hadn't ever read Heidi. (Kansas Dad still hasn't read it, just for the record.) I'm a little shocked, too. I consider often how I lacked a proper guide when reading as a young girl, someone to present to me the very best literature for children.
I enjoyed Heidi immensely. It is certainly on my list of best books I read in 2012 and I hope to read it aloud to the children soon, though our list is growing much faster than I can read out loud.
One of my favorite moments reminded me of Unconditional Parenting. Peter, jealous of Heidi's affection for and attention to Clara, does something quite wrong. For weeks following, he is tortured by his guilty conscious and his child-like terror of being arrested for his crime. When he is finally discovered, grandmama responds in a most loving way, explaining exactly why he was feeling so distraught. Then, that he might remember Heidi's friends with favor, she offers him his heart's desire.
Peter lifted his head at this, and stared open-eyed at grandmama. Up to the last minute, he had been expecting something dreadful to happen, and now he might have anything that he wanted. His mind seemed all of a whirl.
"I mean what I say," went on grandmama. "You shall choose what you would like to have as a remembrance from the Frankfurt visitors, and as a token that they will not think any more of the wrong thing you did."Peter certainly deserved punishment, but grandmama responded instead with love and did much to conquer Peter's jealousy. Perhaps punishment would have increased his anger and resentment, harming his soul and relationship with God even if it wasn't reflected in more unpleasant behavior.
The plot is predictable (or perhaps we all just know the story too well, even if we haven't read the book). The language may seem stilted to today's ears. But the book is also wonderful.
Then at last the grandmother spoke, "Heidi, read me one of the hymns! I can feel I can do nothing for the remainder of my life but thank the Father in Heaven for all the mercies he has shown us!"Grandmother speaks a great truth in these lines, the last of the book, one that should be true for us all.