Little House in the Big Woods – Laura Ingalls Wilder

Posted 20 April, 2013 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 21 Comments

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Title: Little House in the Big Woods
Author: Laura Ingalls Wilder
Published: 1932; Pages: 238
Genre: Children’s Chapter Book

The Short of It: Little House in the Big Woods is the first installment of the Little House on the Prairie books. It details one year in the life of the Ingalls family in Wisconsin and is focused on Laura, the middle of three children.

Why I Read It: Once upon a time Lisa of Books.Lists.Life was holding a readalong for Little House in the Big Woods. I’m super late to the party.

Thoughts in General: I’m going to let Lisa’s questions guide this post but I did want to start by noting this is my very first experience with Little House in any way. I’ve heard friends talk about Laura Ingalls Wilder with much adoration but we didn’t read her books growing up and I never watched the TV series. I had no idea what to expect going into this book (shocking, right?) but I didn’t realize it was going to be quite so (ahem) simple. It took me much longer to get through the first 238 pages (with big font and pictures) than I expected and I don’t think I can use the word enjoy in context of reading Big Woods. I feel like I’m letting you down by saying that! Can we still be friends?

Lisa’s Questions (don’t worry–there really isn’t anything I could even spoil in this book)

Was this your first time reading the book? Yessiree Bob!

Were these childhood favorites? No. Maybe Canadian kiddos don’t read Little House books? (joking)

What scene stood out the most to you? In the winter the Ingalls family tap the Maple Trees for Maple Syrup. I loved visiting maple farms on school trips when I was little and tasting the fresh maple syrup. In a way this part felt nostalgic for me.

Do you think your children could play all summer with two dolls and some acorns? Is this really a question about whether I think kids are overstimulated? You can’t trick me Lisa! ;) As long as Elle had a place to put her acorns, I think she could learn to be quite content.

Do you think kids today like the books as much as we did? As much as our parents did? I’m not sure if my parents have read these either. I’ll have to remember to ask. I bet my stepmom did. Personally I love pioneer type things and would probably have eaten this up as a kid and then played Pioneer with my sisters. I’m going to have to have a talk with my mom as to why we didn’t read these books growing up. (Had talk with mom. She said it was because she thought the TV show was hokey when she was growing up. Ha!).

Would you take a bite of head cheese? Um, no thank you.

How would your family handle three days of enforced togetherness? A week? A month? A month is maybe a long time but my family spends a lot of time together. Much to our husbands’ chagrin, I’m sure. This is what happens when three immediate families live within a mile of each other!

What about the songs Pa sang? Am I the only one who skimmed those? I skim all songs/poems in books. I’ve been told this will serve me well when I finally read Possession.

What other thoughts do you have on the book as a whole? While I personally did not get a whole lot of enjoyment out of reading Little House in the Big Woods, I can see myself eventually getting the boxed set and reading them to the girls when they are older and can sit through a chapter a night or help me read a chapter. I like the idea of these books and think that they could generate fun discussions or even activities with kids, but for personal reading fun? Not so much.

My question to y’all: What are your experiences with reading children’s books as an adult? So far I’ve had trouble getting into many of the books that I didn’t read as a kiddo–Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, Little House. I wondered if the first two were because I’d seen TV/movie adaptations, but I think there’s more to it than that. What do you think?

Oops–a book post on Saturday. It was one of those weeks (I think for everyone). Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

21 Responses to “Little House in the Big Woods – Laura Ingalls Wilder”

  1. I’m finding with a lot of the re-reads I do that books I loved as a child (including this series) doesn’t have the same effect on me as an adult. It’s sad, but at the same time it’s nice to see my own kids fall in love with their own favorite books, and I have a fondness for this series that will never go away because of those childhood reading experiences.

  2. Your mom’s reason is hilarious! The show was hokey, she’s right about that, lol. I loved these books when I was a kid. My mom read them when she was young as well. My oldest daughter loved them and even visited some of the places that Laura’s family lived. My youngest daughter…sigh. She’s a tough nut to crack. She declared these books BORING.

  3. I read the Little House books as a kid but didn’t love them as much as other people did. I was more of a mystery kid. I never watched the TV show either. I read kids’ books differently as an adult and generally don’t get lost in them the way I did as a kid.

  4. I never read the Little House books as a kid, but did read this one aloud to my oldest daughter… sooo boring! I could hardly stay awake. She loved it though and went on to read the rest of the series for herself.

  5. I fell in love with the Little House series when I was a child. Even as an adult I’ve collected books about Laura Ingalls Wilders. In fact, when I was in the fifth grade I got to visit Rocky Ridge, the farm where Laura spent the last part of her life. When my daughter was in the fifth grade, my daughter (and I) got to visit the little house in the big woods, where Laura started her life.

  6. I absolutely ADORE children’s classics. I think it’s my favorite genre. I never read children’s lit as a kid. (I hardly read books at all.) Now that I’ve discovered them, I am thrilled! :-) I read the whole Little House series for the first time in 2010. I recently reread Little House in the Big Woods. My favorite in the series is The Long Winter, then Farmer Boy.

    I love the way this closing post was set up — with the questions. Very nice way to cover a read. :-)

  7. I never read these either, and I didn’t have girls so I never bought the books. But we watched all the T.V SHOWS AND CRIED.

  8. I loved these books as a kid. I’m almost afraid to read them as an adult in case they don’t live up to the hype that is in my memory!

  9. I have a hard time reading things I wish I had read as a child first.

    My plan is to wait until Baby Whimsy and I can read them together. I’m hoping through her eyes everything will seem anew and special.

  10. I don’t agree with your mom (sorry!), I loved the show. I never missed an episode, and loved every minute of them. I’ve never read the books though.

  11. Oh thank you, Trish!!!! I always feel like such a heathen when it comes to these books! Because they just never did a damn thing for me! I started reading them as a kid (in fact, still have my set–so yes, they’re over 40 years old :P )…but never could finish them. And I was a reading maniac as a kid, wanting to read anything and everything. As an adult, I figured there was something wrong with me, and surely I would appreciate them more reading them to Annie. So when she was about six, we started reading them. Well, I didn’t like them any better than I did as a kid. And Annie didn’t like them either (we only got through the first three, I think), so at least I felt vindicated! :P

  12. So, when I saw that you had posted a review of this book, I thought…”I’m a little afraid to read what your opinion is, because if you didn’t like it, I’m not sure we can still be friends!” Then the worst happened!!! Just kidding, but I’m sad you didn’t love it. I know I’ve felt the same way about other beloved childhood books/movies that I didn’t see/read until I was an adult! I’m hoping that your feelings towards these books will change when you read them to your girls and experience them through a child’s POV! :) (but if not, I still will like you ;) )

  13. Amy

    Trish – My mom read this to me when I was little, and I didn’t really like it. (I don’t think she read any others in the series.) Then, as an adult, I decided I needed to try it again because, hello?!, children’s classic! I still thought it was slow and uninteresting. But I thought for the sake of classic children’s literature, I should plow through. I read “Little House on the Prairie” and didn’t love it either. But then I read “Farmer Boy,” and wow, I was enthralled. I couldn’t believe how much I loved it (given my experience with the other two). I liked “On the Banks of Plum Creek” also. I’m not saying that you would have a similar experience, just that it might be worth it to try a couple more just in case.

    (Oh, and the TV show? I have to agree with some of the other commenters–LOVED it! I think my family had every single episode taped on VHS.)

  14. I’ve never read these books or watched the TV show either. It all seemed so, well, drab and boring. The watercolored covers surely didn’t help. But I’m going to be reading this for the first time this summer. To tell you the truth, I’m absolutely dreading it! My plan is just to get through it. I honestly don’t think I will end up liking it. I’m glad I won’t be the only one though. ;)

  15. Love the questions, really thoughtful. I quite liked the books as a child, though I only got to half-way through the second and can’t remember if it was lack of interest or loss of the book (I read them in the school library). I do remembering thinking they were okay but far from amazing, and very easy reads in terms of plot. I think they would still be okay today as long as the reader knows they’re going to be slow (thinking of “reader” being a child here, one used to fast paced technology). Most of the childrens books I’ve read as an adult I’ve liked, but then again so far they’ve been re-reads or books I’ve always known about.

  16. Aw that’s such a shame! I did read this in grade school, and loved it. Regardless of the TV show. I remember them getting better as you go along, probably because Laura ages.
    I’ve wanted to read them as an adult and see what I thought, but think I’ll start with Nancy Drew and ruin those good memories first.
    Kids books as an adult…Alice in Wonderland. Didn’t read as a child, and the adult experience was horrible! Alice sucked and I would not be her friend either!

  17. Ti

    I’ve never read the books but of course the TV show was a fave of mine. I think I’d be bored with the books.

    I find that reading children’s books as an adult can be hit or miss. If I am sharing them with my kids, like when they were little, I can hang onto the magic a little longer but reading them on my own… they lose the magic sometimes. Except for The Giving Tree. I still love that book to this day and I think I’d read the entire Nancy Drew and Sweet Valley High series all over again if I could.

  18. Les

    I have such fond memories of these books! I read all of them back in the early 70s and saved them for my daughter, but she never had any interest. She did watch the tv show, however, but never wanted to read the books. She was much too interested in The Babysitter Club and American Girl books. I’ve been wondering if my granddaughter might enjoy them, so I’ll see if she wants to try this one when she’s here this summer. I kind of doubt it, though. I think they’re a bit too old-fashioned and she prefers the tween type books that deal with school, BFF, crushes, etc.

    I read and loved The Secret Garden and all of the Anne of Green Gable books when I was in elementary school, but I really doubt they’d hold my interest at this point. Shay and I started The Secret Garden when she was here last summer, but didn’t get very far.

    BTW, Canadian kiddos (at least this one, who move to the States when she was 5) read and loved the Laura Ingalls Wilder series. ;) Oh, and my husband, who is ten years older than me, read the entire series when he was a kid. But don’t tell anyone. ;)

    If you want to read an adult version of these books, give O.E. Rolvaag’s “Giants In the Earth” a try. I read it for a Great Plains lit class and loved it!

  19. Oh my gosh – how much did you love saying “reading these to the girls?” Hopefully Elle will sit still long enough for you to read a book by that time!