Mama knows best.

By Betsy Cribb
Mother and daughter reading

Maybe it’s because of our own close-knit relationships with our mamas, but when it comes to many of our favorite books, we just can’t help but fall in love with the strong, selfless mothers at the stories’ core. Here are seven of the best literary moms, along with the lessons we learned from them.

Marilla Cuthbert, Anne of Green Gables

She and her brother Matthew had been expecting a young boy to help around the farm, but instead they find themselves saddled with an incorrigibly optimistic orphan named Anne. While Marilla at first seems practical to the point of being hard-hearted, she proves herself a nurturing (and beloved) mother to Anne.

Marmee, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

The March family’s tenderhearted matriarch teaches her four daughters the value of thoughtful speech, a tireless work ethic, and compassionate service to others through her own actions. She corrects her daughters’ mistakes gently and without judgment, mans the home front while her husband is away at war without complaint, and generously shares her family’s own limited resources with those more in need. She’s the picture of strength in trial and grace under pressure.

Miss Honey, Matilda by Roald Dahl

Matilda’s biological mother Mrs. Wormwood may have left a lot to be desired in the maternal instincts department, but her adoptive mother more than makes up for her shortcomings. Miss Honey encourages her young protégé’s love of reading and showers her in the affection and understanding that her biological parents never gave her.

Ma, Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder

When it comes to a literary mother who embodies strength, it’s hard to outperform Caroline Ingalls. Along with her husband, she moves her family from a little log cabin in Wisconsin across the plains to Kansas, then to Minnesota, and then again to the Dakota Territory. She navigates the struggles of pioneer life, from harsh winters to limited resources, with grace, working hard to make their home a safe haven. That author Laura Ingalls Wilder captured her own mother’s many virtues in her portrayal of Ma only makes us admire her more.

Mrs. Dorothy Quimby, Ramona series by Beverly Cleary

When the going gets tough and her husband loses his job, this stay-at-home mom gets to work, taking a job as a receptionist in a doctor’s office. She may be more like her older daughter Beezus in her calm temperament, but she has a soft spot for Ramona’s indomitable (and endearing!) spirit that we especially appreciate.

Molly Weasley, Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

While her seven children bemoan the personalized sweaters she knits for them each Christmas, the gesture only grows our fondness for the magical matron. Her warmth extends beyond her own charges to Harry himself, including him in holiday celebrations and Diagon Alley shopping trips. Her fiery spirit shines brightest when she joins the Order of the Phoenix and defends her daughter Ginny at the Battle of Hogwarts.

Mrs. Bennet, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Okay, okay. Hear us out on this one! We know she may not win the gold medal for sense or sensibility, and she undeniably prioritizes the wrong things from time to time (read: often), but there’s no doubt Mrs. Bennet cares about her five daughters’ futures something fierce.

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