Saturday, January 15, 2011

Reading the Laura and Mary Books

The full set of The Little House books has been on the bookshelf since before the children were born.  They have taken them out of the box, stacked them, looked at the pictures, and "read" aloud.  Finally, the day after Christmas, I started reading The Little House in the Big Woods to Genevieve. 


She loves it.



Ben tries to love it too.



My parents read these books to me as a child; I read them to myself again a few times, and then, memorably, as a newlywed in the Deep South in the process of becoming a homemaker.  Now I am thrilled to be reading them through my children's eyes. 



Not surprisingly, I am more focused on Ma, as recalled by Laura.  I am awed by Ma's iron strength cloaked in manners and femininity.  I know how Pa's restlessness is going to drag the family around in the upcoming books.  I know the deprivations coming.  Yet she is capable, firm, cheerful, and polite in the face of it all. . . as seen and remembered by Laura.  What did a pioneer woman like Ma hide from her family?  Maybe I'm too modern when I imagine that she had something to hide, some bitterness or fear to submerge.  In general, I am inspired by Ma as I face my own challenges which do not include marauders, panthers, malaria, and starvation.  Brava, Ma!
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15 comments:

Tracy said...

Such good books, they are. If Im reading them aloud to Abigail, both Collin and Autumn lean in closely and will listen for as long as I'll read. You're never too old for read alouds, hmmm?

PunkRizz said...

I LOVED when my mother would read aloud to us. Reading on summer vacations became a tradition, and she read A Wrinkle in Time, Stuart Little, and a bunch more. And I don't think it's a "modern" expectation that Ma had inner conflict. I think it's part of being human. (Maybe she gave PA an earful, but Laura never knew about it.) Only now, in this modern age, we're more likely to talk about it.

beth said...

Your post brought back memories....I read them a few times through to my children also. I wonder who loved it more...Them? me?

Deanna Beth said...

Yes, the perspective changes, doesn't it? As a child, Pa was the more interesting parent to me, now my Wife Eyes see him more cautiously.

LOVE the Little House books. They were my "gifted and talented" education, I like to say. I read earlier than my classmates and I remember my 1st grade teacher just quietly walking by during read-to-self time and placing that book on the corner of my desk without a word. I devoured most of series that year, though my 6-year-old self lost interest when Almanzo entered the picture.

So my own kids have enjoyed me reading the series to them each at least once. When Sophia was in 3rd grade, her teacher read the whole series to them over the course of the year. We consider ourselves experts. This summer we are heading to the great plains and plan to see som LIW sites on the way. Can't wait!

Jennifer Jo said...

We're reading straight through the series right now (at least, that's the goal). We're on book two.

Eva Girl said...

I've been reading this series to my family too! Such wonderful stories. I'm also so impressed by Ma. I sticks in my mind her red check table cloth and curtains...the little figurine that only came out when they were 'settled' at their new home...she was the center of the home, the family comfort.

Heritage Farmgirl said...

I read these books the summer my now 19 year old was 3. We were all summer at the cottage with no amenities and these books became the kids lifeline. Each of our children took something different from the books. At the time we were looking for our soon to be farm. These books traveled each car trip and I read from them as we drove on. Dearest got the most out of it at the time, as they begged me to read more. My eyes would go cross in the car and motion sickness set in...but I read on. Now I am reading them to the three year old who missed the adventure the first time.

I wouldn't want to be Ma at all back then. perhaps that is what makes it exciting to read, a child ( Laura)saw all the good things.

Have you ever read the book about the History of Laura? It has pictures of her real family, fiddle and all. They looked older and more worn then the picture books.

Still best book series for the buck.

Kay S. said...

I read all of the Little House books many times as a child. I was fascinated with the descriptions of the food and the efforts that went into the preparation. The books triggered many early attempts at self sufficiency and cooking. (as did "My Side of the Mountain") And don't even get me started on the books that influenced my love of gardening! I read all of the Little House books to my children just before they were too "big" to enjoy being read to anymore :(

Margo said...

NEVER too old to be read to! I read aloud to my high school students and was surprised how much they drank it in. I'm planning to continue read alouds as long as I live with other people.

Beth said...

I read these when my big three were little...it's time to do it again!

And I love it when I finally make it into a photo with my dearies! :-) Special pics of you all!!

Christian @ Modobject at Home said...

One of the great joys of mothering is reading with my children and the "Laura and Mary books" as we too call them have been favorite!

Be still my beating heart... I LOVE these photos. So tender and warm.

And, yes, regarding Ma... I wonder...

Leila said...

I just love those books. They are true works of art, with something to offer to every age. There is true poetry in the prose, and a spirit of wonder.

Also, Ma and Pa are wonderful. We all have weaknesses. They made the most of who they were, and stuck together. I love how they gently compliment -- and complement -- each other. And I love how they handle their children. I love them!

thelordshousekeeper said...

I remember reading those books growing up, too. I'm sure I'd see them differently reading them now (like you talked about with Ma). It might be time to check them out again :-)

Florrie said...

I came to these books quite late in life, only about three years ago in fact, but thoroughly enjoyed them......I vaguely remember my mum watching "Little house on the pararie" on a Sunday afternoon, but I suppose I thought I had better things to be doing with my Sundays........wondering if you can still buy the series on dvd, although saying that I'm sure reading the books are far more enjoyable. Lucky children, enjoying the stories with mama.

florrie x

Emily said...

Another one who loves those books. I turned to them in 2009 when I was HATING my job and seeking a calmer, more family-and-earth focused life.

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