One of my favorite childhood books was The Boxcar Children, by Gertrude Chandler Warner. It’s a story of four children, Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny, who are orphaned and on their own, even though they have a rich grandfather they’ve never met. They thought their grandfather didn’t want them, so they’ve run away. They find an old boxcar in the woods, and turn it into a home, being very creative in how they make it a nice place to live. The four children are so kind to each other and slowly get to know many of the townspeople nearby, especially the kindly doctor who helps them in many ways and who figures out who they are. They do finally meet their grandfather, and discover that he’s really a kind old gentleman, and all ends well.
My students have been reading this book as a “novel study.” They take turns reading aloud and have then done little projects and assignments for each chapter. I’m delighted to say that they’ve enjoyed it as much as I did when I first read it. There’s a whole series of books based on these characters, the first 19 written by Gertrude Chandler Warner herself, and the rest by other authors. This first one, however, captured my heart many years ago, and continues to capture children’s hearts today!