Monday, February 25, 2013

It's Monday! And Revisiting Little House

I was SO TICKLED to pieces when I saw that Lisa from Books, Lists, Life was hosting the Little House on the Prairie Read-a-Long (#LittleHouseRAL).

My first encounter with Laura Ingalls Wilder's work was WAY back in 6th grade. Our reading teacher assigned Little House in the Big Woods. I was absolutely taken with the book. In particular, I fell in love with the minute details of everyday life in the big woods. How Pa trapped and prepared meat (smoked, salted, hung), or how Ma made butter, complete with coloring from carrots boiled in milk.

It was the small, everyday details that really transported me into the life of this family. I've re-read the book several times over the years, but somehow I never completed the entire series! That's one of the reasons I latched onto this read-a-long. It's high time I read the whole thing.

And I can honestly credit Laura Ingalls Wilder's book for instilling a love of historical fiction in me. I am absolutely fascinated with the way people in times gone by lived their daily lives. Other books that have appealed to me with their historical detail:


And so so so many others. But these were the first to come to mind. I read The Red Tent and Pope Joan 12 years ago if that gives you any inclination of the impact they had on me. The Red Garden was much more recent and equally powerful.

So, in getting back to the Little House books, I'm looking forward to more detail in some different settings. The university library's copy of Little House on the Prairie was missing in action this past week, so I grabbed it from the city library over the weekend.

My re-read of Little House in the Big Woods was record-fast last week. It only took me two days, and it would've certainly been even quicker if I didn't have to work or sleep. :)

Probably my favorite question from Lisa's discussion was:
Do you think kids today like the books as much as we did? As much as our parents did?

I don't know enough children who have read this (since me) to answer. However, this idea of generations moving away from this time period is an interesting one to ponder. My grandparents raising their own family in the 40s and 50s were farmers. They told me stories of doing things "the old fashioned way." And they told me stories of how their parents and grandparents functioned. I think that gave me an appreciation and a familiarity with the time period in these books that other kids and future generations will not have as time marches on.

There will still be plenty of kids who seek out books of this nature and are fascinated by prairie life and homesteads and all of that. But they just won't have the experience as close to them. I think they will find the everyday lifestyle and methods of preserving and hunting and providing for one's family far less believable, maybe?

Did you read the Little House books when you were a kid? Do you think these books hold up to today's young reading audiences? 

Currently reading, and almost finished with:


And I've already been reduced to tears. FYI.

Hosted by the AWESOME Sheila of  BookJourney

24 comments:

  1. I have never read the Little House books, but I gave the entire set to my daughter for Christmas one year, and she has read them and reread them several times. It's high time I grabbed them from her bookcase. They are timeless, and I also love the historical detail they provide.

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    1. I think you would probably adore them. Big Woods has always been my fave, and we'll see if it holds up this time around. I'm busting through On the Prairie right now.

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  2. I wonder if kids are still picking up Little House books? I don't know any kids who've read the books or watched the tv show. I do remember devouring the books as a child.

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    1. I'll have to poke around and see which kids I know that have read them. If any! I hope!

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  3. I've never read these - I think reading them growing up is an American thing? I grew up on The Secret Garden and Roald Dahl.
    But I do think they sound very interesting and will certainly read them at some point.

    Enjoy your rereads :)

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    1. Sam, I think you're probably right that they are an American thing. I don't know of anyone from across the pond or elsewhere that has loved them like we do. Interesting question.

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  4. Me Before You is a tear-jerker for sure. I'm joining in the Little House readalong, too, as I was totally obsessed with these books as a kid. Now I'm reading them with my two girls, and it's so much fun to revisit them. Although I have to say, my oldest daughter calls it a "cooking book" because all they every talk about is food! :)

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    1. OMG, I finished it yesterday. ALL the tears.

      Glad you're with us on the Little House readalong! And yes, there is LOTS of food. One of my fave parts. lol

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  5. I did read some Little House books but don't remember them being favorites. I'll be interested to see how they hold up to a re-read for you.

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    1. So far so good, Kathy! I've just finished Big Woods and now busting through On the Prairie.

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  6. My kids liked the Little House books, when we read them together, and there were definitely a lot of little girls their age who were just as enamored with the stories as I was. :)

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    1. Awesome, Ali! That makes me happy.

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  7. I checked out the Little House books from the library so many times that they felt like my own copies! Like you, I need to revisit these charming stories because I'm not sure I ever finished the series. As for kids becoming much more distanced from the prairie life - that makes me so sad, but it's inevitable. Like you, I had my grandparents and their stories of no electricity, outhouses, wringing chickens' necks, and other almost mythical type narratives that the children today won't hear.

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    1. Weren't those the best stories, Brooke? I must remember to pass such things down to Greyson so he's a little more grounded in the way things have developed. :D

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  8. I read Little House books, but I think they were a little too "daily life" for me -- I was drawn more to fantasy. We watched the tv show when I was young, which probably ruined the books a little bit. It would be interesting to go back and read them.

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    1. That's understandable. At that age I was more drawn to fantasy in general and was surprised that Big Woods appealed to me. When our teacher told us about it I was not enthused, but it surprised me. :)

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  9. I had my son start the series, and he was actually intrigued enough to read the first two or three books in the series. Could he relate to it? Not really but I do think he derived pleasure from learning about a completely foreign way of life that was the norm 100 years ago. I do hope I can convince my daughter to pick up the series one of these days. She loves the American Girl series, so perhaps there is hope.

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  10. I avoided these books like the plague when I was a kid. I couldn't get past the boring looking covers and, well, the word "prairie". I think it comes from growing up in Hawaii and California. I had very little interest in anything to the east because I loved where I was. I never even traveled east until I was a teenager and then it was just Utah and Florida.
    I think I'm finally getting to one of these books this summer though for the Chapter Books read-along. Oh, and I'm going with Z on a field trip next week to see a play about Laura Ingalls Wilder so maybe that will help too!

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  12. I ADORED the Little House books when I was a kid. My oldest daughter did too. I tried them with my youngest daughter and she pronounced the first book BORING after a few pages. Hmph.

    The Red Tent and Pope Joan are two books that have stuck with me as well :)

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  13. I feel like such a heathen when it comes to these books. :( Despite the fact that I was a voracious reader when I was a kid, I never liked these. In fact, I never even finished the series. But I still own my copies from when I was a kid--yep, they're ancient! Anyway, when Annie was younger, I decided to read them to her...but it turns out she didn't like them either so we only got through the first three, I think. Must be something lacking in our gene pool, I guess. ;)

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  14. I still have my original set of books that were given to me back in the early '70s. I loved them and think I probably read each at least 2 or 3 times. Unfortunately, my daughter never showed an interest (although she watched the tv show), but maybe my granddaughter will. We've been reading a "young reader" book once a month (writing letters to each other, discussing the books), so maybe I'll suggest the Little House books when she is here this summer. We could even make a trip up to South Dakota to see where Laura lived. :)

    Loved Pope Joan both times I read it. That and These Is My Words are fantastic works of historical fiction.

    Happy reading, Andi!

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  15. Little House! I LOVED The Red Tent. I don't remember a lot of it, but I remember how it felt when I was reading it.

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  16. I read several of the books when I was growing up, but I did as well with series back then as I do now! I've been a lover of historical fiction from the time I started reading (partly because that's largely what my dad read to us), but I do still remember the tiny details of their lives really standing out in "Big Woods." I do wonder if kids read them as much or if there are just so many more choices now.

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