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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Little House on the Prairie :: Read Aloud Thursday/ LIW Reading Challenge

It is time for another Read Aloud Thursday over at Hope is the Word!

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Also, I'm trailing behind in wrapping up our participation in Barbara's Laura Ingalls Wilder Reading Challenge which she hosted in February. We started reading Little House on the Prairie in February. We just didn't manage to complete it before the month was over! We finally finished it this past Tuesday morning.

Last year, also as part of Barbara's challenge, we read Little House in the Big Woods (linked to our experience) and really enjoyed it. I've been waiting all year to read Little House on the Prairie aloud with my oldest bookworm. I'd say we had even more fun this year than last year.

To recap: in this particular story, the Ingalls family leaves their house in the big woods and travel west where they settle down on the prairie, which is in Indian territory. There Pa builds them a beautiful log house and they explore deserted Indian camps, fight a prairie fire and help some cowboys move their livestock through the area. I thought it was great fun to read this story as we so happen to live in a log house ourselves. Hearing about how Pa built the Ingalls home made me appreciate cranes, that's all I can say! (I'm right sure that Jonathan appreciates them even more than I do. But at least my ankles are safe!)

Little House on the Prairie is notable for it's negative slant against the Indians. Man, Ma really didn't like Indians! I had forgotten how vicious she was in her opinions. Since I had forgotten, I was a little unprepared to talk through the subject with my oldest (age 6). However, it's kind of easy to explain about differences between people's skin colors and heritage because my second born is Asian. I explained that Ma was frightened by a people that she couldn't understand in speech or actions. The Indians were different from the white people and both peoples wanted to live in the same place. I explained - in a way that I think the six year old mind could comprehend - that both sides treated the other side poorly. And we talked about the need to work hard to communicate accurately and well with others, as well as the need to not be afraid of someone just because they look different. ("Are you scared of your brother?" "Did he understand our language when he came over?" "Do you think he was scared of us then? Is he now?" Etc.)

One thing I very much appreciated was Pa's attitude throughout the book. No matter how negative Ma was, Pa always jumped in with a positive. He "kept calm and carried on" and he worked hard to keep peace. If we can believe everything that Laura wrote about her father, he was a really cool and interesting fellow! Hard working, honest, strong and fun. What's not to like about him? (If you think of something I may be shocked.)

A little Q & A between us:

Me: What was the hardest thing that Pa built?
Bookworm1: The log house!

Me: Who is your favorite character and why?
Bookworm1: Laura, because she was so funny.

Me: What was the scariest thing that happened to the Ingalls family in this book?
Bookworm1: The night the Indians wanted to make war. ("Indian War Cry")

Another thing we did, following the reading of various chapters, was to look up Youtube videos of some of the songs which Pa played with his fiddle. This video of Old Tom Jones is particularly fun to watch:

I didn't even have to ask Bookworm1 if he enjoyed this read. I know he did because he would ask me to read multiple chapters at a time. "Read the next one!!!" was an oft repeated request. We managed to stretch it out but we really did enjoy every single minute of it. Lastly, I'll leave you with a picture of our house taken a few weeks ago - when the skies were blue and we were outside enjoying the beauty of the world. Very thankful for our glass windows when it's rainy and overcast though!
Thanks, Barbara, for hosting this challenge again so that we could dive back into the Little House books. Such fun!

5 comments:

Barbara H. said...

I'm so glad you both enjoyed it! I do think it's helpful to explain the situation and feelings on both sides concerning the Indians, as you did, rather than skirting around it.

It is hard to fathom how they did so much, like building a house, without the equipment we have today.

Something else that came to mind just now was the importance of neighborliness. It wasn't just a social nicety, it was vital then. Pa never seemed to like being where they had a lot of neighbors too close, but enjoyed having a few good ones they could depend on and vice versa.

Annette {This Simple Home} said...

I think you explained it well. I don't mind Ma's take on the Indians bc so many were so scared at the time...though she is mean about it....as you said, Pa balances her well.

Those books make me appreciate much! I can't imagine living in a house built by my husband's hands! No wonder they were so little! And trees are only so big...

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

Those LIW books are just irresistible, aren't they? :). I remember feeling the exact way you do about the sheer volume of work it took just to live. I'm thankful for our modern conveniences, for sure!

I think Pa was very likable, but I have read some criticism of him because of how he would just pick up and move with seemingly no concern about how the rest of the family felt about it.

So glad you linked up today!

Diary of an Autodidact said...

Darn! Amy beat me to it. As the contrarian lawyer who can *always* find an argument for the other side, I was going to mention that very thing. (I am naturally biased toward Pa because he plays a fiddle...)

I love these books when my mom read them to us at a young age. I think The Long Winter made the most impression on me. However, my own family history lined up best with On the Banks of Plum Creek. My great grandfather Aaron (who I only met at the end of his life, alas) lived (along with his family) in a dugout in Kansas similar to that described in the book. His parents woke to his screams one night, and found that he had been stung by a scorpion. (He would have been a toddler, as I recall.) It's amazing what our ancestors survived...

Stephanie Shepherd said...

Sigh. I love Little House. : ) We are almost done reading the whole series here. I think we just have These Happy Golden Years and The First Four Years to go. (Although I think we may have bailed on By The Shores of Silver Lake at one point, I need to check).

That just means I'll have to start the series over in a few years when the boy is bigger. : )

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