When I was in fourth or fifth grade, we had to read one of the Little House books for school. I can't remember which one. I dutifully plowed through it but considered it a horrible waste of my time. I had biographies of baseball and football legends, eyewitness accounts of WWII battles and other important boy books to read and was greatly annoyed that I was required to use valuable reading time on a book about girls. The only part of the book I can even vaguely remember was an account of a Indian encounter that hinted at being violent but disappointingly ended with little or no bloodshed.
Now, father of a 5-year-old-year daughter, I find myself re-visiting the world of Laura Ingalls Wilder. My wife started reading Little House in the Big Woods on a long family car ride last week and suddenly, after nearly falling asleep as she read the shockingly bad first volume of the Ivy + Bean series(chosen by my daughter at the bookstore), I found myself listening intently to descriptions of pig butchering, maple candy making, and rifle cleaning. How did I miss all this wonderful minutiae when I was a kid? I've now joined the reading tag team as we -- at my daughter's request -- set out to read the entire series. At night Little House by flashlight is the one thing that will entice my kids away from the still-light outdoors to their beds...
Want to join our Little House project? In addition to reading all the books we're also -- dork that I am -- studying up on the clothes they wore, the tools they used, and, most importantly for me, the music they loved. My 3-year-old son is now obsessed with "Arkansas Traveler," one of the tunes Laura's father plays on his fiddle. This morning we watched three different versions on YouTube. Please feel free to post on the Deedle Deedle Dees Facebook wall any suggestions you have for enriching a family reading project like this. Or just let us know you're reading too!