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.
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