I just finished reading the book Heidi to the kids, and we adored it. [Ella actually told me she liked it better than the Little House books. Now that I find hard to believe. I think it's just because Heidi is so fresh in her mind right now. But that's how popular this book was.] If you have not read the book in its unabridged form, you are missing out.

I happen to be kind of a snob about unabridged books versus abridged books. It's a rare exception that we'll read anything abridged, and I'll give you a great example of why that is the case.

Here is a portion from the [unabridged] book we just finished:
"Oh, grandfather!" she said, "everything is lovelier than it ever was before in our lives!" Heidi jumped up and down. Then suddenly she became very serious. Taking her grandfather's hand, she said, "If the dear Lord had done right away what I prayed for so hard, everything would not be as it is now. I would only have come home again and brought the grandmother just a few rolls, and I couldn't have read to her. But the dear Lord had thought it all out so much better than I knew. I am glad that he did not grant what I asked and longed for! Now I will always pray as the grandmamma told me, and if the dear Lord does not do as I ask, I will remember it is because He is planning something much better, just the way He did when I was in Frankfurt. We will pray every day, won't we? We will never forget Him."

"And if one should do so?" murmured the grandfather.

"Oh, it would not be well for him, for then the dear Lord would forget him, too."

"That is true, Heidi. How did you know it?"

"From the grandmamma. She told me all about it."

The grandfather was silent for a while. Then he said, "And if it is so, then it is so. No one can go back, for whomever God had forgotten, He has forgotten."

"Oh, no, grandfather, one can go back. That I know, too, from the grandmamma. And then it says so in the beautiful story in my book. When we get home, you shall see how beautiful the story is."

As soon as they reached the hut, Heidi ran inside to get her book. With one bound she was at her grandfather's side and had found her story, for she had read it so often that the book opened of itself at the place. Heidi read with great feeling about the prodigal son.

"Isn't that a beautiful story, grandfather?" she asked.

"Yes, Heidi, the story is beautiful," he said, but his face was so serious that Heidi became quite still and looked at her pictures. She quietly pushed the book in front of her grandfather.

"See how happy he is!" she said, pointing to the picture of the prodigal son's return home, in which he stands in fresh garments beside his father, and once more is his son.

A few hours later, when Heidi was asleep, her grandfather climbed the little ladder. He put his lamp beside her bed so that the light fell upon the sleeping child. She lay there with folded hands, for she had not forgotten to pray. He stood looking at her for a long time. Then he, too, folded his hands and bowed his head.

"Father," he prayed, "I have sinned against Heaven and before Thee and am no more worthy to be called Thy son!" And great tears rolled down his cheeks.

And here is the same part of the story, rephrased for a popular adaptation of the book:
On the way back up the mountain, Heidi had so much to tell her grandfather that she talked until they reached the hut. She told Grandfather about her idea for using the money Mr. Seseman had given her. Grandfather smiled when he saw how generous and kind-hearted Heidi was.

That evening at dinner, as Heidi chatted about her life in the city and how kind everyone had been to her, a change came over Grandfather. For the first time in a very long while, he saw the goodness in other people. And he saw this goodness through Heidi's eyes. He realized what a gift this child was, and that his life of bitterness was not good for him and certainly not good for Heidi.

That night Uncle Alp made an important decision. He decided to return to a life that included other people.

Aack! Do you see what I mean? The original is so much richer than the adaptation. Okay, I'm stepping off my soapbox. But recommending the book nonetheless.

And now I'm trying to research which Heidi movie is most faithful to the original book.


  1. Amen, amen, amen, amen, Stacy! Stand on that soapbox and preach it, sister!

    OK, I'm sort of an "unabridged snob" too... especially about Heidi. My kids aren't old enough for it yet, but I went back and reread it myself not too long ago, for the first time in quite a few years. I was shocked to find so much good theology in it--somehow, even though I read it multiple times as a little girl, I'd never remembered all of that.

    Great excerpt! Thanks for sharing! I can't wait to share this book with my littles some day!

  2. We loved Heidi too. Glad you guys enjoyed it. Let us know which movie you choose.

  3. don't get me started!!

    Heidi is wonderful.

  4. Uncle Alp? Please! We loved Heidi, too-- and my boys especially. We'll take a pass on the adaptation, too, thankyouverymuch.

  5. I love Heidi too, Stacy. And I never knew about the unabridged difference! Wow!!! I'm never going back! We own the Shirley Temple HEIDI movie. It's pretty good. I don't have anything else to compare it too, but the Lord is mentioned, and reverently too!!

    Hope you are all well. Is Addie all better? And Happy Belated Birthday to sweet Isaac!!

    Camee :)

  6. Fun! Thanks for sharing. I read Heidi as a kid and still have my gorgeous hardbound copy. I will SO look forward to reading it with my kids someday soon!

  7. I sure do love my "Illustrated Classics" though. Our boys devour them and even look at them before they can read for the pictures. Sure they lack the literary value of unabridged choices, but they capture the essence of some of the most amazing stories ever written, many of which I never even read growing up. This place (http://www.hiddenstaircase.com/new/greatillustratedclassics2.html) often has great deals on them in bulk.

    No one thinks that riding a bike with training wheels is more fun than without, but it's still a good place to start.

    That said, we're almost done with "The Silver Chair" and there is a quality about Lewis' fiction that's just fun to read, especially out loud.

  8. Stacy,
    I watched a silly cartoon version of Heidi while growing up. I was 8 or 9 and I loved the story it told. I didn't know it was silly!

    I was surprised at the spiritual depth I found in the book once I read it as an adult. I look forward to reading it to my kids, too!

    I wondered if Mike would mention the Illustrated Classics here... I just know that he and his boys like them. Well said, Mike- the training wheels analogy, I mean.

    Stacy, this is one of the books that you can put in that sidebar thing you mentioned once- where you are going to list books that you've read and approve of for your kids!

    Thanks for the encouragement to read good books with our kids, Stacy!

  9. WOW. I had NO idea.

    I'll be looking for the unabridged version of Heidi! Thanks...I was trying to think of the next book to read aloud to my girls!


  10. I really enjoyed the story of Heidi as a kid too.
    hope you and yours have a lovely week.

  11. In my opinion, abridged versions are just "cliff notes"... or "Heidi for Dummies".
    Yes! I totally agree with you on this. However, I read a good adaptation of Pilgrim's Progress to my kids. They both hung on every word. It wasn't super short and it was done quite well.


Thank you for commenting! I love hearing from you, and I will do
my best to reply back to you in the comment section.