Title: Little House in the Big Woods
Author: Laura Ingalls Wilder
Series: Little House, book 1
Major Themes: Frontier Life, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Pioneers, Wisconsin
Synopsis: Two little girls enjoy a year of life on the frontier in Wisconsin.
Some books are lifelong favorites. The Little House books fall into that category for me. I remember our family reading them aloud a few times when I was young, and the first “big” book I read in one day was in this series. Now, I’m currently reading the series aloud to my own children for the third time. Each group of children needs to hear it! We just finished Little House in the Big Woods, and I heard sighs of relief that there are more books in the series.
In this book, Laura tells the story of her life as a young child in Wisconsin: “The Big Woods of Wisconsin, in a little gray house made of logs.” The family was quite isolated, and rarely saw anyone else. They enjoyed life, and though Ma and Pa worked hard, there was time to enjoy each other and life. Some chapters will make you laugh (the scene with the bear is unforgettable!), and others will make you shake your head (remember how they spent Sunday?).
In this book, Laura takes her readers through a year of her life. At the beginning, winter is approaching and the family is preparing to survive that hard season. They store up food, and Pa goes trapping. Christmas is a wonderful day, with relatives visiting, and then comes spring, when Pa helps make maple syrup and the relatives are all together for a dance. In the spring, as well, the family makes a trip to town for the first time. Summertime passes in a blur of work, and then autumn comes again.
I love these stories! There is so much about the way the family worked together to survive, and Laura gives many details about how her family did things, before the days of modern conveniences. On the other hand, they don’t seem to have had any kind of relationship with God; the only time anything religious is mentioned is the chapter about how Sundays were spent (it was a day to be dreaded because of the boredom they endured). Another thing I noticed in this book was the constant conflict in Laura towards her sister Mary. Mary was always perfect, and she was the beautiful one, while Laura considered herself to be plain. The girls always treated each other kindly, though, with one exception which was dealt with by Pa, and they had a lot of fun playing together.
Listening Level—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12, Family Friendly
Reading Independently—Ages 7 – 9, 8 – 12