Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Little House in the Big Woods, by Laura Ingalls Wilder

I really wasn't anticipating reading any of the Little House books again for a few more years. Certainly not outloud to my son. However, when Barbara announced that she would be hosting a Laura Ingalls Wilder Reading Challenge, I thought that the least we could do was give Little House in the Big Woods a try with Bookworm1 and see how it went. And it went! It went well! I never realized how perfectly suited (at least the first book is) to ages 5 and up. As Wilder tells the story of her growing up years in the Big Woods with Pa, Ma, Mary and Baby Carrie she explains in ways that young children can understand. You truly learn how they went about making cheese, threshing wheat and making hats. She brings sometimes complicated chores down to a level where children can visualize them. I loved that! I'm so very glad that we took the time to read this together.

I have to confess that I've only read through this series once before in my lifetime. I distinctly remember my mother suggesting to me that I should read them when I was younger but I don't remember ever following through and doing so. (I was all about Nancy Drew at the time, as I recall.) My mom read this book when she was in grade school and, in fact, chose my name in reading this book. Yup! I'm named for Baby Carrie in the Little House books! (So you'd think I'd feel a tighter connect to it somehow. I don't, but it's an interesting fact all the same.)

I won't rehash the storyline as you are likely familiar with it. Instead I'll just share Bookworm1's reaction to the various stories Laura shares in this book.

In Chapter One there is my skinning and smoking of animals to prepare meat for the winter months. Making the pig bladder balloon received the biggest reaction from my son. I had prefaced the book by saying that this was a true story of a real family and the things that they did "a long time ago." We finished up reading about the pig bladder balloon and his only question was:

"Why is this story so yucky!?"

Moving on to Chapter Two "we" discovered that Laura and Mary were involved in helping with various household tasks, including the making of their own bed.

"Why do they make their bed EVERY DAY?!"

From there on out the general reaction to the book was, "WHY? WHY? WHY?" Why work so hard for cheese? Why spend days twisting straw to make hats? Why, most especially, do they have to sit quiet and still all through Sunday?! (This, as you might imagine, was mind blowing to the boy.) It opened up an interesting conversation between us though. I explained that they believed you should rest on the Sabbath and to them that meant playing quietly and being still all day long.

"Mommy, do we believe that?!"
"Well, what do you think?"
"No, not really."
"Well, we believe that God made a day for us to rest in, just as He rested on the seventh day of Creation. But we don't believe that we are supposed to sit quiet and still and do nothing on that day. It's the day that the Lord has made and we're to REJOICE in it!" (My explanation was longer but you get the gist. If you don't, I have a post in which I intend to lay out our views of Sabbath Rest in a bit.)

I went on to explain that Christians believe different things about how they are to behave on Sundays but I was able to explain what we believed which is always good to know when you live in our household. (Ha!)

I did get a little bored during the chapter about the Harvest and I skipped past Laura's descriptions of the women's dresses at the dance. However, on the whole this was a very fun story to read aloud and I'm grateful to Barbara for hosting this challenge to give us a good reason to launch into this fabulous story.

I'm linking this post up to Barbara's Laura Ingalls Wilder Reading Challenge and also to Amy's Read Aloud Thursday post over at Hope is the Word.

Read-Aloud Thursday at Hope Is the Word


Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

Well, Baby Carrie, huh? My sister is named after a book character (title?), but since I believe it to be a romance novel, I've never really investigated it. I love B1's reactions!

Annette Whipple said...

:) A namesake!! Sounds like BW1 asks some good questions. M just listened to this in her discussion. :( but we have listened to it together before.

*carrie* said...

This is one of the books I brought with me to the hospital, though I haven't started it yet.

My mom read this series aloud to us each winter.

I always liked the fact that my name was in these books!

Barbara H. said...

I never made the connection with Carrie Ingalls until you said that!

I was telling Annette that I so wished I had read these to my sons when they were younger. At that particular time they were in a very anti-girl stage, so I just figured they wouldn't like them because they were "girl stories." I should have tried, at least Farmer Boy. At least then when they were tempted to complain about vacuuming it would have given them some perspective. :-)

I remember being grossed out by the pig's bladder, too. I don't think I would have ever played with one, but, I don't know -- with very little else to play with, I might have.

I'm so glad you joined in!

Diary of an Autodidact said...

Tell me you at least left in, "Pull, Ruby, pull!"

My mom read the whole series to us when we were fairly little, and I re-read them as an older kid or teen. My kids are hearing this one book at a time as well, and they like it.

Definitely a classic.

Diary of an Autodidact said...

Tell me you at least left in, "Pull, Ruby, pull!"

My mom read the whole series to us when we were fairly little, and I re-read them as an older kid or teen. My kids are hearing this one book at a time as well, and they like it.

Definitely a classic.

Taia said...

We read Farmer Boy a few months ago. I wanted to "test" the series with the book that's not about Mary and Laura and they were studying farms at preschool so it was appropriate.

I would not recommend this one for your child. The fact that the big boys had beaten the previous teacher badly enough to kill him was disturbing to R. (and to me)

Sky said...

I grew up reading LIW, mostly because it was about a country girl! I could relate to many of the things in the books, not quite the hardship of living but just having chores and living near wild places.
I'm going to wait a bit longer, until Z is ready to read them with us!

BerlinerinPoet said...

I had these books read aloud to me. They were good, but I think mainly I loved being read aloud to. So, the take away is, I'm so glad you read to your kids! They will remember it! :-)

I'm so glad you were into Nancy Drew. I loved (and still do kinda..) Nancy Drew, and I don't know WHY. So formulaic and she's completely unbelievable. I still like her though.

B said...

I loved these stories when I was a girl, although I read them in spurts as I got older. (I think you have to grow into the later books.)

And I totally knew that's where you got your name! :) Off topic: I was named for a family friend. Probably just as well -- my mom had previously wanted to name me Consuelo.

Also somewhat off-topic, Nancy Drew was my hero when I was younger.

Carrie said...

@Annette - I think I'm getting closer to listening to an ebook. Bookworm1 keeps asking to listen to Paddington in the car so we do because I have that on a cassette and he seems to like it. I'm wondering if we should start trying some others.

@Carrie - ;D We have another family name in this book, a fact which my oldest found rather hilarious.

@Barbara - I think if I didn't have many things to play with AND I thought playing with a pig bladder was normal, then I would. Otherwise I'd be a very. hard. sell.

@Diary of an A - Yes, I did read that. And that was about where I stopped because I realized a.) this was not going to make a lick of sense to him and b.) I was kinda bored with the descriptions of the dresses myself.

@Taia- Good to know and be aware of. I don't think we'll be moving on in the Little House series any time SOON. I was thinking we'd try Little House on the Prairie next year when the LIW challenge rolls around again.

@Sky - I'm totally looking forward to reading these with Baby Girl at some point.

@Canaid - I'm laughing at the idea of your mom wanting to name you Consuelo.

@everyone - I think Nancy Drew makes a fine hero when you are 12-ish. Formulaic or no! ;)

Unknown said...

I personally think that playing ball with a pig bladder is an excellent hook for boys. As a matter of fact, I've never met a child of either gender who didn't sit up and pay attention when I was reading that part. :)

Stephanie Kay said...

We've been slowly reading Little House in the Big Woods for school. My boys (7 & 8) love it. My oldest has secretly been reading the whole series (can't trust that boy NOT to read a book!). I read them as a kid. Sadly I had to read library copies because the set was too expensive. One of the first Christmas gifts I asked for my daughter was the set. :)

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