no more Elsie Dinsmore

elsie dinsmore
“It is puzzling to know why the Elsie Dinsmore books continue to be so revered but are being removed from the Vision Forum shelves. Whatever the reason, here’s hoping their daughters and granddaughters will now be introduced to genuine godly womanhood through the biographies of women like Amy Carmichael, Gladys Aylward, Betty Greene, Mary Slessor, and their feminine role models from the pages of Scripture. No more Elsie Dinsmore: That’s the very good end of an era.”
Read more of my Breakpoint article here.

 

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Comments

  1. Laura (old OR vintage) says

    Amen to this! These books are terrible and my daughters and I were horrified when they read them years ago. You are right- they are replete with racism and weirdness between little girls and grown men…not to mention bigotry, child abuse, emotional abuse…

    Thanks Karen for focusing on this!

  2. Anthea says

    Thanks for the link to the website. I was always puzzled by ‘Gone With The Wind’, in that it was presented as a romance between Rhett and Scarlet. Even on first viewing as a v young woman, I could see the romanticised view of slavery. I have never read the novel, however.

    Could anyone suggest good reading matter as a positive alternative to Elsie Dinsmore? I have my own favourites, but what about ‘thatmom.com’ readers?

  3. Kris says

    I don’t have a daughter, but we read the YWAM biographies about women and men such as Mary Slessor, Corrie Ten Boom, Lottie Moon, Clara Barton, Nate Saint, Ronald Reagan and the list goes on. They are much loved reading and you can find them on the YWAM Publishing website and they are called Christian Heroes I think and Heroes of History.

  4. Pressing On says

    Yes, it seems *very* strange that they are pulling a set of books that was so popular with no explanation. It would be nice indeed to know why.

    Did they finally cave to criticism? Will they admit that Elsie is not really a role model?

    One has to wonder…

  5. Vangie says

    Thanks for sharing. As an auntie to three nieces, I’ve been looking for good lit…Glad I don’t have to wade through Elsie since you’ve done it:)

  6. Gayle says

    If you are looking for older literature I highly recommend the Little House Books and Anne of Green Gables books for a start I loved them dearly as a young girl and don’t regret reading them at all.

  7. says

    To be very clear, Vision Forum has made no statement or even a gesture that indicates that they have had a change of heart about these books. In fact, they are still saying that Elsie is a godly role model and are continuing to produce the CD’s and other amenities.

    http://www.visionforum.com/browse/product/elsie-dinsmore-mp3-collection/default.aspx

    “In the nineteenth century, millions of readers learned the meaning of godly womanhood from a little girl named Elsie. Her commitment to principle in the midst of adversity and her passionate love for Jesus Christ were the theme of twenty-eight volumes spanning her life. Elsie raises the standard of godly womanhood to new heights. Feminists will not be happy with Elsie. She is a God honoring young woman who strives to solve problems while working through biblical authority structures.”

  8. says

    Yes yes yes to the Little House series! I still try to read through the series every few years! I remember when my mom and dad had an interest in planting a plot of prairie grass, I brought them copies of the books to read and they couldn’t put them down. Great living history! Love the Anne series too!!!

  9. says

  10. Peggy Mears says

    Karen,

    Fantastic article! I found your blog some time back and always enjoy reading it. I am a 52 year old mother of three sons who has been homeschooling for the last 20 years. Like you, I have seen first hand the legalistic and patriarchal underworld of homeschooling which dominated homeschooling magazines and conferences for too many years (and regrettably some of which I dabbled in).

    God bless you as you courageously tell the truth and offer a healing balm to many of us that have built an “unsure” foundation on the advice of many who were much more concerned with power than truth and grace.

  11. says

    Peggy, thanks for your kind words! As a veteran homeschooling mom, you have a voice that needs to be heard and I am praying that the Lord will give you many opportunities.

  12. Kh says

    I honestly had no idea that these books contained this. My daughters have had them on their shelves for years. They came highly recommended. I think I’m going to go pull them off and scan them over. I’m really very careful about reading materials..These came highly recommended in home school circles..

  13. Susan T says

    We love the Betsy- Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace – these are also fictionalized tales of the author’s childhood in early 1900’s Mankato, MN (Deep Valley in the books) The first four books are excellent read alouds for all children and the next 4 books are about the high school years – so fun to contrast our lives with, as our kids are reaching high school age; then the last two books are about Betsy traveling to Europe just before WW1 and finally Betsy’s wedding. There are also 3 other books in the series which feature Betsy’s friends, more than Betsy – overall these do for early 1900’s small town Midwest, what “Little House” does for homesteading. There is a Betsy-Tacy society online to find more info. The parents are very gracious in these books.

    Another series showcasing gracious parenting are the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary. These are also fun to read aloud and the audio versions read by Stockard Channing are a hoot! Then the Ramona movie is a great follow-up, showing grace-based parenting.

  14. says

    Could it be that the internet is doing it’s job and word is getting out about the unsavory elements of this series to such an extent that sales have declined to the point that it is no longer cost effective to continue reprinting and promoting them?

  15. Anthea says

    Have any of you read ‘The Railway Children’? It’s a tenderly-told English classic. Everyone goes all misty-eyed at the memory of the book and/or film.

  16. Dani says

    I would like to know if the author of this article has read the Elsie Dinsmore book series? I have read these books to all my daughters and thought them to be great fictional reading that portrayed that time period very well….like it or not. There were several teaching moments throughout the books but, overall, found the books to be quite commendable. I had the books highly recommended to me and I, in turn, have highly recommended this series to many, many moms and daughters, who enjoyed it as well. I find it disturbing that many women who have come to embrace feminism would like to eradicate books such as these.

  17. Rosy says

    I am not the author of this article, but I have read the first several of these books. When my oldest daughter, a voracious reader was 11 or so, she started getting them from the church library, I read them, and was horrified at the bigotry that I found, and very disturbed at the relationship between Elsie and her father. In one of the later books, her father behaves very abusively to a child who was staying with Elsie for the summer, and then after her husband dies, Elsie is still not treated as a fully functioning adult, no, she goes back under her father’s “protection”…Unlike some mothers, I have a pretty loose monitoring system but there is one series of books they are not allowed to read and that is Elsie Dinsmore.

  18. says

    Interesting subject, as I am right now purging out Elsie books that I bought without reading (“highly recommended”, etc). I have listened to the first two books on audio and both centre around Elsie’s personal convictions about Sabbath keeping (in the first book, it was about reading a newspaper on Sunday, and in the second, it was about playing a secular piano tune on Sunday). Her father demands her obedience without compassion, and only Elsie’s ensuing deathly illnesses bring him around both times. Same story, basically. Happily, her convictions bring him under conviction in book two, and he receives Jesus.
    The series disturbed me and my children, with my oldest pleading, “no more Elsie!” It did open a wonderful door for discussing the law of liberty and love, and legalism, as Paul puts forward in Romans. We discussed how to respond when another believer holds a different perspective on what is appropriate for a Christian, touching on common controversies such as head coverings and Halloween, (and of course Sabbath keeping). As we all have probably learned, home schoolers (and Christians in general) come in all shapes and colours, but we can have fellowship in God’s grace, as we walk in it ourselves and freely bestow it upon others. Elsie may not be the ideal role model, but she is commendable in her steadfast conviction and quiet patience, and can be a source of great theological discussions with your young ones :)

  19. says

    Dani, I would love to hear your specifics as to how my critique of Elsie means I have embraced “feminism.” Not sure how you define it and see any application…..seriously confused. Btw, I also read the first couple of books and skimmed others. Could barely handle it.

  20. Hester says

    I suspect they’ve saturated their market and sales are going down. Maybe the same reason they’re coming out with new adventure books for boys – everyone’s already bought the Ballatyne books? Just my theory.

  21. A.Roddy says

    to Dani June 5th, it isn’t just femnists who have problems with these books. Feminsists are easy targets to blame for everything wrong in the world today. Excuse women for not wanting to be little doormats cheerfully obeying every command their masters say. The way Elsie was treated by Horace would be deemed child abuse in modern times and rightfully so. Though Horace changed, he still controlled Elsie. I think positive reviewers have read the watered down version and not the original. Elsie is good for older readers for historical purposes but not much else.

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