Title: Grandma’s Attic Series
Author: Arleta Richardson
Major Themes: Farm Life, Michigan, Pioneer Life
Synopsis: A series of 10 books follows the life of the author’s grandmother from young girlhood through the first several years of raising her family.
A good many years ago, maybe around 10 or 12 years now, I read the first four books in the Grandma’s Attic series to my oldest, who was then around 6 years old. She loved them, and the recordings I made as I read them have been listened to a number of times. We didn’t have the rest of the series at the time, so I didn’t read any more. Now, though, we have the entire series of ten books, so I decided to read them to my 6-year-old. He loved them—and everyone else wanted to listen in, too. I had to make sure to schedule the reading of these books for a time when everyone was handy.
The most well-known books in this series are the first four, In Grandma’s Attic, More Stories From Grandma’s Attic, Still More Stories From Grandma’s Attic, and Treasures from Grandma. In these books, Arleta Richardson relates stories her grandmother, Mabel, told her about her own young life as she grew up next door to her best friend, Sarah Jane. The two girls got into many hilarious scrapes together and learned a lot of lessons about life. These books follow the girls until they are about 14 or 15 years old. Away From Home (formerly Sixteen and Away From Home) describes Mabel and Sarah Jane’s first year of high school in a town an hour or two from home; I believe it was Ann Arbor, Michigan. A School of Her Own (formerly Eighteen and a School of Her Own) describes the first year Mabel taught school, which began with a spectacular introduction to the school board president’s son. Wedding Bells Ahead (formerly Nineteen and Wedding Bells Ahead) relates the events of Mabel’s second year of teaching as she also prepares for her wedding and worries about her mother’s surprise pregnancy, as well as deals with a jealous young lady in the area. At Home in North Branch, New Faces New Friends, and Stories From the Growing Years follow Mabel and Sarah Jane through their first several years of marriage and beginning their families.
The Grandma’s Attic series gives a beautiful picture of a family’s life in Michigan in the late 1800s. As Mabel and Sarah Jane grow up, they face many situations which, while they may differ somewhat from the challenges that today’s children face there are enough similarities that modern children and teenagers can relate. I really appreciate the way Mabel follows the Bible pattern of dealing with difficult people. In several of the books, she has to decide how to respond to another girl who seems to greatly dislike her, and every time, she does what is right even though it is hard. You’ll have a hard time putting down some of these books before the end—you’ll want to know how the conflicts are resolved in seemingly impossible situations!
For reviews of the individual books, see the page for each one.
Listening Level—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12, Family Friendly
Reading Independently—Ages 7 – 9, 8 – 12, 10 – 12