Little House in the Big Woods

If you meet me on the streets you will think I am a city girl. I love a pair of heels, freshly manicured toes and an occasional happy hour. But seriously…who has time for any of that when you have kids? My other side  is a homesteader begging to get out. I dream of backyard chickens, spinning my own yarn and baking artisan bread. This compounded when I recently reread a childhood classic Little House in the Big Woods. I found myself researching the cost of ranch land, tumbleweed homes and how to raise dairy cows.

If you have not read this classic book, Little House in the Big Woods is a must for you and the kids! It is based on the author Laura Ingalls Wilder’s actual childhood as a homesteader in the late 1800’s. The story is told through the author’s eyes as a four-year-old with Ma and Pa and her sisters Mary and Carrie living in the wilds of Wisconsin.

Pioneer life is demanding. Since the family must grow, catch, harvest and store all their own food each season has its share of hard work . The chores are described in fascinating detail. For instance a whole chapter is dedicated to the maple syrup harvest. When my kids realized the sugary goodness that goes on their pancakes actually comes from the same trees we have in the backyard, they began pestering my hubby to build a tap so they can get fresh syrup. Yup…we are planning to give this a try once spring comes.

Personal responsibility for kids is emphasized since each girl had a long list of chores and special work they were expected to do to help the family survive. But all the hard work would bring rewards in the form of tasty treats and long leisurely afternoons playing in the fields.

Because the main characters are female, this has traditionally been thought of as a “girl” book. But countless boys have enjoyed the stories of Pa trading furs and facing off with a “bear”. The message of family love and security will resonate with both boys and girls of all ages. Each night the girls fall asleep snug in their beds as Pa lightly played his fiddle. It is a sweet reminder of a harder but simpler time.

As with all Free Market Mommy’s favorite books, we put together a printable discussion guide with questions to engage your kids. I have found that my kids as young as three have enjoyed this book, although they engage better as they get older.

Since Little House in the Big Woods is the first in a series of nine books, would love your suggestions on the next one we should review. What other historical books should we include on this blog?  Keep your suggestions coming!

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