Monday, February 29, 2016

The Long Winter, by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Ahh! It's the last day of February and the conclusion of Barbara's Laura Ingalls Wilder Reading Challenge. I thought I'd make a hasty effort to see if I can get our review of The Long Winter done. This was the title the kids and I read together this month as it was next in the series for us. I really am so happy Barbara hosts this each year as it gives me the opportunity to not only re-read these wonderful books for myself, but to also share them with my kids.

I confess that I had hoped we'd have matching weather to compliment our reading (but with a working heater!) but, alas, we here in the Northwest had a rather mild winter. We had just one snow flurry and that was that. Small pellet hail was about as exciting as it got. I believe those on the East coast had our share of snow along with their own! We ended up reading The Long Winter to the accompaniment of our usual rain.

Ultimately, we spent two weeks reading this book aloud and I think it's safe to say that all of the kids enjoyed it. The older two boys (ages 9 and 7) would ask for additional chapters to be read at the conclusion of each day's reading. Things grew especially tense as we stopped before finding out what happened to Almanzo when he went in search of wheat for the town. The boys were also especially attuned to the lack of food in the Ingalls home. Bookworm1 (age 9) - who is not a fan of potatoes - was glad not to live out on the prairies in the 1800's. He appreciates a little more variety in his diet. I thought it especially interesting to see their minds at work when we were on the chapter which talked about how Pa managed to purchase 2 lbs. of beef. As it so happened, I had just bought the same amount from the store.

Bookworm2: Well why were they worried? Two pounds is a lot of beef! That'll last them awhile!

I pulled out the wrapped two pound package of beef from our fridge and asked how long he thought that amount would last our own family of six. Realization dawned.

The Long Winter is an excellent book to be reading if you want to talk about teamwork as a family. This is a subject we focus on a great deal as with six of us, the more help we give to one another, the further we make it in a a day. An attitude that says, "I'm here for you when you need me" is something that we very much stress and wish to grow in our kids and we look for examples to show them what attitudes make - and break - the concept of being a team. This particular portion of the Ingalls' life really struck me as being one that required team work for one's very survival. Situations were tough and intense and it required the efforts of all family members to make it through that one long winter. (It also made me thankful for the rain.) We might not each face a long winter in the sense of being trapped by large snowdrifts, but we each have particular moments in time where we really need the comfort and the help of others and I really admired the way the Ingalls pitched in and worked together. On that note, I looked up a few quotes on teamwork which I liked and which I think suit this book well.

Thanks, Barbara, for hosting this reading challenge. I surely do appreciate it! We'll be looking forward to next year's challenge in anticipation of our next Wilder read.


Annette Whipple said...

Oh, I like your comment about teamwork.

I'm always amazed at the hope within this book during the worst Want to hear something rather awful? The book was only part of the story. Another family lived with them during that hard winter...and did not help with the teamwork you spoke of. :(

Susan said...

Yes, the resourcefulness of our forebears was truly amazing! Your post brings back fond memories of reading TLW to my girls when they were younger. I think it's maybe Laura's most vivid book. Have your read The Children's Blizzard? I loved it for its non-fic look at that time period.

Barbara H. said...

Yes, this book makes me appreciate very much central heating and electricity! But I do love the way the family worked together and think that theme of teamwork is a valuable one to try to incorporate in our kids.

Amanda Klopping said...

I love the idea of using this as a family read aloud. I can't think of another family in literature that works harder than the Ingalls do in this book. Thank you for your review!

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

Oh, I DO love that Chesterton quote. I think I might need that hanging in my house. :-)

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