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If you read the Little House on the Prairie books, which ones...

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Which ones do you consider essential reading? I'm planning to read at least a few of them with my students in the upcoming school year, but I'm not sure we'll have time for all nine books. I will probably leave off Farmer Boy (because it's not about Laura) and The First Four Years (because so many sad things happen).

I read them myself years ago and loved them all... well, except the last one... and so did EK (my daughter). I had already planned to reread them with my new crop of students before all the recent negative publicity, and I don't want to debate that topic. I just need to know which ones others consider the "favorites" and not-to-be-missed. Thanks! 

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Little House in the Big Woods and Little House on the Prairie. If they really like the books, they can read the rest independently.

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The first four years was the book I started with because it was the smallest.  Farmer Boy was my least favorite because as you said it wasn’t about Laura. 

My favorites are little house in the big woods and little house on the prairie. 

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On the Banks of Plum Creek was my favorite. But I like Little House in the Big Woods a close second. 

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8 minutes ago, happysmileylady said:

The first four years was the book I started with because it was the smallest.  Farmer Boy was my least favorite because as you said it wasn’t about Laura. 

My favorites are little house in the big woods and little house on the prairie. 

We're opposites.? I loved Farmer Boy and thought the others were pretty boring, much to my Little House-loving mom's disappointment.

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We didn't like Farmer Boy either, but it is the favorite of several of my friends & their kids. I really like Little House in the Big Woods.

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Little House in the Big Woods and Little House in the Prairie. We are reading On the Banks of Plum Creek now as a read aloud and the kids are enjoying it. I didn’t like The First Four Years because it was depressing and lacked the charm of the earlier books.i did enjoy Farmer Boy. I thought it was interesting to see how different Almanzo’s childhood was compared to Laura’s.

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However many you have time for, LOL! I'd start at the beginning with the first two books, move on to "Plum Creek"--and just see how far you get. 

I will say that I loved Farmer Boy--not as "part of the series" but as a different, stand-alone book. The descriptions of food are sumptuous, and some of the stories of the kids' antics are the ones that really stood out in my mind as a child. I actually wished for more of his childhood stories. 

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6 minutes ago, MerryAtHope said:

However many you have time for, LOL! I'd start at the beginning with the first two books, move on to "Plum Creek"--and just see how far you get. 

I will say that I loved Farmer Boy--not as "part of the series" but as a different, stand-alone book. The descriptions of food are sumptuous, and some of the stories of the kids' antics are the ones that really stood out in my mind as a child. I actually wished for more of his childhood stories. 

I was always kind of curious about the family dynamics in Almanzo’s foo. Eliza Jane was Laura’s teacher that one term (Little Town on the Prairie) and she blamed Laura for everything that went bad in that school, and then her brother up and marries the girl. I’m just kind of curious about how that went over. ? Although I guess Eliza Jane went back to Minnesota with the folks and maybe they never had anything to do with each other.

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1 minute ago, KrissiK said:

I was always kind of curious about the family dynamics in Almanzo’s foo. Eliza Jane was Laura’s teacher that one term (Little Town on the Prairie) and she blamed Laura for everything that went bad in that school, and then her brother up and marries the girl. I’m just kind of curious about how that went over. ? Although I guess Eliza Jane went back to Minnesota with the folks and maybe they never had anything to do with each other.

 

Yes! I always wanted to know more about that too! 

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Big Woods and House on the Prairie, definitely. Plum Creek and Silver Lake if you have time and the kids are interested. Long Winter, Town on the Prairie, Golden Years, and First Four Years only if they’re really big fans. Otherwise save them for when they’re older. (I liked them as a child but appreciated them much more as an adult.)

 

I like Farmer Boy for what it is, and it has some appeal to boys, so I vote for not skipping that. 

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As soon as Mary goes blind the whole tone of the series changes and it just isn't as much fun. My dd age 8 noticed this and commented on it. 

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I love Little House in the Big Woods and On the Banks of Plum Creek. I also love Farmer Boy. I am in the minority I think about Little House on the Prairie. I just felt it was a bit more dull.

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Nothing is essential reading. You could do nothing in your life but read good and worthy books and never, ever get to the end of it.

So if you're going to do this, I suggest you only read Prairie, as that's the one that's easiest to get (not that it's exactly hard to get any of them), and then move on to something else... maybe The Birchbark House, Out of Many Waters (much earlier, historically), or Elijah of Buxton. In this way, those kids who aren't in love with the series can move on to a book that they'll hopefully prefer.

Edit: To be clear, I would almost never recommend that you plan to read multiple books from the same series with your class or book club. I think it's better to shake things up, and that has absolutely nothing to do with my feelings on the LH books. I absolutely support individuals reading every book in a series (I'm a hardcore completionist myself!) or even doing it in your family read-aloud rotation/class by popular demand, but that's not the same thing, exactly.

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I always loved The Long Winter and Little Town On The Prairie.  They both showed the family connecting with others, a sense of community, and significant turning points for the characters.

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8 hours ago, Tanaqui said:

Nothing is essential reading. You could do nothing in your life but read good and worthy books and never, ever get to the end of it.

So if you're going to do this, I suggest you only read Prairie, as that's the one that's easiest to get (not that it's exactly hard to get any of them), and then move on to something else... maybe The Birchbark House, Out of Many Waters (much earlier, historically), or Elijah of Buxton. In this way, those kids who aren't in love with the series can move on to a book that they'll hopefully prefer.

Edit: To be clear, I would almost never recommend that you plan to read multiple books from the same series with your class or book club. I think it's better to shake things up, and that has absolutely nothing to do with my feelings on the LH books. I absolutely support individuals reading every book in a series (I'm a hardcore completionist myself!) or even doing it in your family read-aloud rotation/class by popular demand, but that's not the same thing, exactly.

 

I agree with this. It looks like you run a school or are a classroom teacher. I recommend this approach in order to make sure that everyone gets to hear a book they like. I read through most of the LH series with my kids, but if I were doing a class, I'd do one to introduce (I vote Big Woods) and do a book talk on the others if I had kids who were interested in reading more. That's how our Mother Daughter book club works. When we finish a book that is in a series, the librarian who runs it has copies of the next few books in the series so the kids can check them out then. 

Are you doing a theme for the year for reading or just kids' literature? 

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1 hour ago, beckyjo said:

 

I agree with this. It looks like you run a school or are a classroom teacher. I recommend this approach in order to make sure that everyone gets to hear a book they like. I read through most of the LH series with my kids, but if I were doing a class, I'd do one to introduce (I vote Big Woods) and do a book talk on the others if I had kids who were interested in reading more. That's how our Mother Daughter book club works. When we finish a book that is in a series, the librarian who runs it has copies of the next few books in the series so the kids can check them out then. 

Are you doing a theme for the year for reading or just kids' literature? 

 

You're right... I run a homeschool program for at-risk teen girls. I usually try to run our literature along the same theme/time period as our history studies. For the upcoming year we will pick up with post-Civil War America. I wanted to read a few of the Little House books before Christmas break and then pick up with something else after Christmas when we move on to 20th century American History.

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10 hours ago, smily said:

As soon as Mary goes blind the whole tone of the series changes and it just isn't as much fun. My dd age 8 noticed this and commented on it. 

 

I agree. My daughter and I talked about this as well back when she read them around age 8 or 9. (She's 23 now and just got married!)

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23 minutes ago, ereks mom said:

 

You're right... I run a homeschool program for at-risk teen girls. I usually try to run our literature along the same theme/time period as our history studies. For the upcoming year we will pick up with post-Civil War America. I wanted to read a few of the Little House books before Christmas break and then pick up with something else after Christmas when we move on to 20th century American History.


If it's teens, maybe Anne of Green Gables series instead?  Though my personal choice would probably include these, even if some are a slight bit young:

Turn Homeward, Hannalee/Be Ever Faithful, Hannalee - a mill girl taken north during the Civil War as a "prisoner of war" and the aftermath when she comes home.
Anne of Green Gables or Understood Betsy
Cheaper By The Dozen or The Great Brain or Christy

Then you could choose to pick up WWI through Anne's daughter Rilla Of Ingleside or look at it through the Gilbreths' experience in Cheaper By The Dozen. 

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44 minutes ago, ereks mom said:

 

You're right... I run a homeschool program for at-risk teen girls. I usually try to run our literature along the same theme/time period as our history studies. For the upcoming year we will pick up with post-Civil War America. I wanted to read a few of the Little House books before Christmas break and then pick up with something else after Christmas when we move on to 20th century American History.

Can I just say this is so freaking cool. What an amazing job you get to do! At risk youth is my heart and I just think this is fantastic. 

 

Ok...carry on about Little House....

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I never read Caddie Woodlawn as a kid, just as an adult, but I may have liked it better. 

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Essential would be the first three (Woods, Prairie, Plum Creek).  I also highly recommend Farmer Boy--but read it after Plum Creek.  It is interesting to see the differences between Laura's and Almanzo's families.  For example, you can talk about how being established in an area for a generation or two (or more?) was, particularly back then, akin to money in the bank.  

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You're right... I run a homeschool program for at-risk teen girls. I usually try to run our literature along the same theme/time period as our history studies. For the upcoming year we will pick up with post-Civil War America. I wanted to read a few of the Little House books before Christmas break and then pick up with something else after Christmas when we move on to 20th century American History.

 

So the suggestions I made are a little early in history for what you're looking for (although Birchbark House can sort of slide by as the setting is a little vague on a specific year.)

Let me think. Are these young teens or older teens? LH is a bit juvenile for older teens, to be honest.

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3 hours ago, SusanC said:

I never read Caddie Woodlawn as a kid, just as an adult, but I may have liked it better. 

Caddie Woodlawn is a great book!!

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Caddie Woodlawn, if anything, is even more racist than the LH books. At least the LH books edited out the part that implied Indians weren't people, but to my knowledge the Woodlawn blurb still talks about her being the only girl born in the territory, as though all the non-white girls born there for thousands of years don't count.

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Little House in the Big Woods and On the Banks of Plum Creek, as essentials. 

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16 hours ago, KrissiK said:

I was always kind of curious about the family dynamics in Almanzo’s foo. Eliza Jane was Laura’s teacher that one term (Little Town on the Prairie) and she blamed Laura for everything that went bad in that school, and then her brother up and marries the girl. I’m just kind of curious about how that went over. ? Although I guess Eliza Jane went back to Minnesota with the folks and maybe they never had anything to do with each other.

 

They were cut off from each other for awhile. If you read the series about Laura's and Almanzo's daughter, Rose, they actually got along very well after Eliza Jane got married. Rose even lived with Eliza Jane and her son (EJ was widowed) for awhile so she could attend a better school than the one where Laura and Almanzo lived.

I was surprised to find out that Almanzo had both an older sister and a younger brother, in addition to EJ, Royal and Alice. They don't appear in Farmer Boy because his oldest sister, ironically named Laura, was already married and his baby brother, Percy, hadn't been born yet.

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21 hours ago, KrissiK said:

Little House in the Big Woods and Little House in the Prairie. We are reading On the Banks of Plum Creek now as a read aloud and the kids are enjoying it. I didn’t like The First Four Years because it was depressing and lacked the charm of the earlier books.i did enjoy Farmer Boy. I thought it was interesting to see how different Almanzo’s childhood was compared to Laura’s.

Yes, this!

My ds only read Farmer Boy, but we did the others as audiobooks or Read Alouds. 

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10 hours ago, ereks mom said:

You're right... I run a homeschool program for at-risk teen girls. I usually try to run our literature along the same theme/time period as our history studies. For the upcoming year we will pick up with post-Civil War America. I wanted to read a few of the Little House books before Christmas break and then pick up with something else after Christmas when we move on to 20th century American History.

Ok, this changes things a bit.  With teens, I might consider reading one of the later books.  I'm not sure if they would mean as much without the run up with the other books, but they might be more interesting.  The Long Winter might be a good choice.

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20 hours ago, Tanaqui said:

Nothing is essential reading. You could do nothing in your life but read good and worthy books and never, ever get to the end of it.

So if you're going to do this, I suggest you only read Prairie, as that's the one that's easiest to get (not that it's exactly hard to get any of them), and then move on to something else... maybe The Birchbark House, Out of Many Waters (much earlier, historically), or Elijah of Buxton. In this way, those kids who aren't in love with the series can move on to a book that they'll hopefully prefer.

Caddie Woodlawn is a good one as well. I was a big LH series fan but I think Caddie Woodlawn is better than most of the later LH books.

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On 7/15/2018 at 10:53 AM, nixpix5 said:

Can I just say this is so freaking cool. What an amazing job you get to do! At risk youth is my heart and I just think this is fantastic. 

 

Ok...carry on about Little House....

 

Thank you for your kind words!  It is challenging, to say the least, but I feel that I am making a difference in at least a few young lives!  My own children were gifted learners, so this endeavor has been QUITE different. ? My "baby" graduated 5 years ago and went away to college, and people in our community started contacting me about teaching their daughters. Most days I LOVE what I do. ? 

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On 7/15/2018 at 1:27 PM, Tanaqui said:

 

So the suggestions I made are a little early in history for what you're looking for (although Birchbark House can sort of slide by as the setting is a little vague on a specific year.)

Let me think. Are these young teens or older teens? LH is a bit juvenile for older teens, to be honest.

 

The girls I will be teaching in the upcoming year range from 13-16. NONE of them enjoy reading, and I generally have to pick books that are 5th-6th grade reading level. They recently read (or tried to read) Calico Captive--Scholastic says it's for grades 6-8--and they didn't get it at all. I had to explain EVERYTHING. It's hard to find books that are accessible to their reading level AND interesting to them.

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On 7/15/2018 at 11:01 AM, SusanC said:

I never read Caddie Woodlawn as a kid, just as an adult, but I may have liked it better. 

 

I read it as a child and again as an adult, but I didn't like it as much at Little House.

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Well, we don't have to all love reading, though it sounds like lack of background knowledge is also a problem.

Are you absolutely married to the history tie-in? It might be better to do something that's just plain fun, but I can't think of as many laugh-out-loud books that are set in the past.

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24 minutes ago, Tanaqui said:

Well, we don't have to all love reading, though it sounds like lack of background knowledge is also a problem.

Are you absolutely married to the history tie-in? It might be better to do something that's just plain fun, but I can't think of as many laugh-out-loud books that are set in the past.

 

No, I'm not set on the history tie-in. They actually seem to notice (!) and enjoy (!) when they read something in one subject area that they are familiar with because of something we did in another, so even if it's loosely connected, I think it works best. 

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The Great Brain and Soup series are both humorous historical fiction, but have male protagonists, and female characters tend to be 2d. 

If you can use Christian materials, some of Janette Oke’s books might be good. 

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The Great Brain is at the right historical time period too, and they're short - something you can't say about most LH books.

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For that group, my choice would be Plum Creek.  I'd usually suggest the first one in the series, but I think Big Woods might be a bit too young.  Plum Creek is my favourite.

 

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Have you tried any hi-lo books? Specifically selected to be high interest, low reading level, with themes more engaging and suitable than books geared to a younger audience. Some of them are written with hi-lo and current trends in mind, others are selected from existing books. 

I don't have any particular recs, but you can google for lists and maybe ask some local teachers. 

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I loved little town. Especially for teens. My other favorites are little house and farmer boy. 

What about one of the newer verse novels for young adults? Fast reads, lots of white space in the page, but good stories and good language. Love that dog, or May B.

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I think the one I started with was Little House on the Prairie, which really stuck with me.   I remember going back and reading the "Little House in the Big Woods" one and not liking it.

My favorites were "On the Prairie, On the Banks of Plumb Creek (that one I think introduces the Nellie character, and The Long Winter."

What one is the one where Mary went blind?  I wonder if you skipped that if you might want to just read that chapter for context in later books.

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