Little House in the Chaparral

First off, I should have posted this ages ago, but here it is now. My critique partner, Emma Barry, and I have been discussing religion in romance novels over at her blog. You should head over and check it out! (And we have more coming soon.)

Now for today’s topic. When I was five, the same age as my daughter now, my aunt gave me the entire set of the Little House novels for Christmas. They were the ones with the iconic yellow covers and the illustrations by Garth Williams. I still have the entire set including the box. The inscription from my aunt is even there, although it’s a bit faded now.

(I understand that there are new editions available, without those yellow covers or the original illustrations, but we won’t speak of those abominations.)

My grandmother, when we saw her, would read my sister and I those books at bedtime. It took a while, but we slowly made our way through the entire series. Those are some of the fondest memories of my life, the three of us sitting together as my grandmother read those stories of long ago.

(I should confess here that Almanzo Wilder was one of my first literary crushes. These Happy Golden Years is really a romance novel in disguise and Almanzo is a wonderful hero. In fact, my own choice of setting was likely influenced quite a bit by the Little House books.

I should also point out, that while I love the books, they still have problems. The depictions of Native Americans are terrible and I shudder now at the minstrel show, although I had no idea what it was when I was little.)

I carefully kept those books all these years and even today, they’re still in decent shape. And last week, I started to read Little House in the Big Woods in my own little girl.

She is completely enchanted. We read the first chapter and afterwards, she begged me to keep going. “Just one more page,” she said. I gently explained that we would read more tomorrow. She made me promise before I could leave. 🙂

Every night since, we’ve read a new chapter, and she’s listened raptly. And every night, she’s made me promise to read her a new chapter the next night. I imagine those books describe an almost fantasy world to her, one where bears and panthers roam freely, one without phones, or TV, or even computers.

She’s asked a lot of questions about the trundle bed and how they can all live in one room together. I think that might be the most difficult thing for her to wrap her head around, that people could live in such small spaces. And our house isn’t even that big.

I have had to skip over some bits about the “Indians” and I’m not certain what I’ll do when we get to the more troublesome parts, but for now, I’m amazed that a book written so long ago could still be captivating children even today. And I’m grateful that I can share something I loved so much as a kid with my own little girl. And hopefully (with some rebinding perhaps) she can share them with her own kids someday.

2 responses to “Little House in the Chaparral

  1. I loved Almanzo too–and was geeked to discover he was hot IRL, lol.

    All of the elements you mentioned flew right over my head when I was a kid too, so I can only say to introduce them to your daughter as you feel comfortable–and she does.

    • Oh, yes, he was very hot IRL! And he raised horses, and he risked his life to save the town, and he drove her back and forth so she could spend the weekends at home…yeah, I’ve got a pretty big crush on him. 🙂

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