Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Excellent Book Series for Any Age

I have always been a reader and I have enjoyed the adventures that I have found between the pages of books. While choosing something to write my first book review on, one thing stood out above others. The first thought I had was that I needed to write about a children's series of books, Little House on the Prairie.

My daughter was a very early reader and we started reading this series together when she could read chapter books around the age of 6. The books have a suggested reading age of 9 to 12 but there is no reason why younger children or teens can't enjoy these books. These books have stood the test of time and generations of children have enjoyed reading about Laura Ingalls Wilder's life. Anyone who is interested is history should enjoy this tale of pioneers and travel by covered wagon.

The original series of books contains nine books. They can be purchased separately or all together in a gift box. The books include:

(1) Little House in the Big Woods
(2) Little House on the Prairie
(3) Farmer Boy
(4) On the Banks of Plum Creek
(5) By the Shores of Silver Lake
(6) The Long Winter
(7) Little Town on the Prairie
(8) These Happy Golden Years
(9) The First Four Years

The series starts in the book named Little House in the Big Woods. It introduces the Ingalls family living in the woods of Wisconsin a few years after the Civil War ends. The pioneer family (Ma and Pa, Mary, Laura, and the baby Carrie) lives in a log house and keeps entertained with work during the day and listening to "Pa" playing his beloved fiddle after dinner.

In the second book, the family leaves their home in the "big woods" and moves right into the middle of "Indian country" in Kansas. Life in that little house is sometimes dangerous and always demanding, but everyone is excited about living on the prairie so there are plenty of good and fun times, too.

Book three, Farmer Boy, is about Almanzo Wilder's life. The boy who was eventually going to marry Laura Ingalls grew up farming in another state, New York. This book takes the reader to New York and introduces Almanzo and his family.

On the Banks of Plum Creek finds the Ingalls family in Minnesota and in a sod house until a wooden house is built. The wooden house was going to be built with the profits from the family's wheat crop. It wasn't to be that way, though, because grasshoppers ruined the crop that Pa and the family tried so hard to nurture.

The next book in the series, By the Shores of Silver Lake, finds the family in the Dakota Territory and helping to settle the new town of De Smet. There is a new baby in the family, too, another sister for Laura.

The Long Winter was always my favorite book of the series. There was just something that touched me to read about blizzards and being cabin bound. The snow storms that year started in October. Since prairies do not have anything to protect homes from the elements, it was all especially brutal. There was one snowstorm after another and trains were not able to run so things like food were running out for the residents of De Smet.

Little Town on the Prairie is set in the spring following the bad winter. Mary is blind and Laura is doing sewing to help Mary go to a school for the blind. Laura is also falling for Almanzo in this book and romance begins to bloom.

Laura, although very young (still 15!) is a teacher in this book and Almanzo is playing a big role in her life again. He arrives at the end of every week to take Laura home to spend the weekend with Ma and Pa.

The book "The First Four Years" has a title that refers to the beginning years of Laura and Almanzo's marriage. Like the rest of Laura's life, there is joy mixed with disaster and sickness. This book introduces their new daughter, Rose.

I would highly recommend the Little House series of books to children of any age and if you never read them as a child, even adults will enjoy the stories. Even if your children have seen the old television series, the books will be refreshingly different and enjoyable.

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