A very early reader, I received a copy of "Little Women" at age 7. From the very first time I read this lovely book, I fancied myself as Jo, and so thoroughly identified with her that even through all the succeeding decades and thousands of other books read, this book will remain one of my top five favourite books because of her. I read and reread this book sitting in a big apple tree in my parent's back yard, laying on the grass on a summer's day, and under the sheets with a flashlight I now suspect my parents knew I had stashed under my bed.
In an age of easily digested and mass-produced books with weak characters and plot, "Little Women" is a stand-out that resists the passage of time for its exemplary characters, theme of family unity, and love on so many different levels (friendship, familial, true love, and romantic love).
Readers today might find the writing and occasional chirpiness of the March sisters when faced with their poverty a bit difficult to relate to, but knowing stories of how my own mother and sisters faced the Depression and then WWII in the UK made me realise from an early age that trying to find things to rejoice in is essential to surviving tragedy and loss on a personal level.
The March sisters encapsulate female society in most countries even now, and are well-written individual characters, each with a different goal they wish to fulfil in life. The girls do not become career women, and their parents do preach the importance of family life and sacrifice, however, each one does what was expected of young girls at that time. Jo's daring in writing a sensationalist "man's" story and insisting on payment commensurate with a man was unheard of in those days and when one considers that women are still underpaid, it makes Jo's triumph still relative today. Amy's goal of being comfortably well-off is eventually tempered by her own personal sorrow at the poor health of her own little Beth, Meg wants to be a mother and wife, and she learns not to overachieve, and Beth who overcomes pathological shyness through her altruism and empathy for others and which leads to her death is still inspirational today.
My suggestion is that if you have a daughter, sister, granddaughter or friend, take turns reading it. It will improve your vocabulary, make you smile, and dear Beth's stoicism will bring a tear to your eye.