Girls always appreciate stories of independent girls who are facing adversity, and meet the challenges while keeping their dreams and ideals. Many of these stories are written so as to interest viewers of all ages, with holiday messages.
The story of the little girl raised by her grandfather in the Swiss Alps is always welcome. There are several versions. The one starring Shirley Temple has an especially poignant Christmas scene. Other modern versions also are well-done, with nice views of snow-covered mountains and fir trees.
The Little Match Girl
There are many versions of the 1845 story by Hans Christian Andersen. In a televised version, Molly [Keshia Knight Pulliam] is a poor orphan child trying to sell matches. She becomes the focal point of a crusading newspaper editor, the estranged son of the wealthy businessman whose company is planning to evict many poor families just around Christmas time. The little match girl becomes involved in the family, and helps them find the true meaning of the holidays.
Prancer, one of Santa’s reindeers, makes an appearance in a small rural town. One of the girls in the town, Jessica Riggs [Rebecca Harrell] finds an injured reindeer whom she believes is Prancer, one of Santa Claus’ team for Christmas Even. Without telling her hard-working farmer father [Sam Elliott], Jessica hides Prancer in an unused farm building, and begins to think of ways to earn money to feed the hungry reindeer. This film realistically but sensitively shows the worries of a family with financial troubles, and how they manage to come together and help each other.
Set in Concord, Massachusetts, Louisa May Alcott’s classic story of four girls during the Civil War is available in many versions. The latest Little Women stars Winona Ryder as Jo, Susan Sarandon as Marmee, Kirsten Dunst as Amy, and Christian Bale as Laurie, the boy next door. All the versions offer wintry scenes of a small New England town, plenty of horses and carriages, humor, and affection.
Little PrincessFrances Hodgson Burnett’s 1904 A Little Princess concerns Sarah, a child from a wealthy family, who has lost her mother in India, and is traveling to New York City with her father, who must return to military duty. Sarah is left in a Manhatten boarding school. Though her father leaves ample money for her to be pampered in every way, the news of his death is accompanied by news that there is no money for her, and she begins to work as a maid in the school. The magic of India weaves throughout the story.
Samantha: An American Girl Holiday
Developed from the American Girl dolls, this story tells of Samanth, a rich orphan girl (AnnaSophia Robb), being raised by her Grandma Mary (Mia Farrow) on a beautiful estate on the Hudson River. When the next door neighbor hires new servants-a widow and his three daughters-Samantha befriends the girls and teaches them to read.
Their life is disrupted when the girls are taken to New York City. Samantha goes to live with her uncle and his new bride, but her friends are sent to an orphanage and factory work when their father dies. Samantha witnesses the terrible conditions of children working in factories and living in crowded orphanages. With the help of her family, Samantha finds a way to help her friends and change conditions for the other children.
Family Time Watching Films
The holiday time is soon over, and children seem to grow up too soon. Watching these films, or reading the books, can remind friends and family of the magic and possibilities that children try to share with us during the Christmas season and throughout the year.