I have many fond memories of my teachers reading to my class when I was little. One of my favorite stories was The Boxcar Children. After Mrs. Harper read some of the books to us in the second grade, I devoured much of the series at home. Violet was my favorite of the 4 Boxcar Children, and I always felt like I could relate to her.

Violet is 10 years old in most of the books. She has an older brother and sister, Henry and Jessie, and a younger brother, Benny. The children are orphans and they set up a home in an abandoned boxcar. Each of the four kids help their little family to survive in different ways. Violet is quiet and artistic. She is also a keen observer, and often notices things that her siblings didn’t. This skill helps the little family avoid trouble on a number of occasions. Her sweet disposition wins over some grouchy characters in the stories, and she is also good with animals. Violet often takes care of Benny, who is only 6 years old when they live in the boxcar.

I always felt a special connection to Violet. I too was a shy child and enjoyed arts, had an eye for details, and loved the color purple. My cousins and I would often play outside in the woods and pretend we were the boxcar children. Our ages worked out perfectly so that I was able to be Violet. I think that it says a lot about a book when children find enough meaning in it to turn it into a game.

Gertrude Chandler Warner’s stories have been enjoyed by children since 1924 and are part of the “Teachers’ Top 100 Books for Children.” I can’t wait to read the series to my own students and children someday and see which characters they connect with. Violet Alden is one of my favorite literary girls, who is yours?

-Hillary Hanel
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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