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Museum of Me

A new exhibit has been installed at the Museum of Me and it couldn’t be more . . . perfect . . . for me because it’s about my favorite book as a kid. Let’s take a trip back to 10 year old Carole. The future librarian. Her favorite book was actually a series of books written by Laura Ingalls Wilder and called, affectionately, The Little House Books.

I’m not sure exactly how old I was when I read Little House in the Big Woods for the first time. The suggested age level is 8-12, but I was a pretty advanced reader and I’m fairly certain I read this in 2nd grade. And once I read that one, I couldn’t wait to read all of the others. Of course, as Laura matured, so did the nature of the books and I know my mother held me back some before she’d let me read the later ones, but I do know that by the time I finished elementary school I had read them all. Multiple times.

This is me in 5th grade at the height of my Little House books obsession. I was thrilled to have a dress like Laura would have worn.

I loved that Laura was so real. I loved that Ma and Pa had a loving relationship (and we shan’t discuss the fantasy that probably was.) I loved that the books were historical and set during a time I wish I could have experienced myself. I loved that they traveled by covered wagon and grew their own food and struggled and persisted and triumphed. I loved the illustrations by Garth Williams and the romance that blossomed between Laura and Almanzo when she was a young lady. I loved that Laura became a teacher and then a wife with a husband and child and home of her own. I think my favorite, of all of the books, was Little Town On the Prairie, but it’s very hard to actually choose.

You know what I did not love? That they turned my favorite books into a television series. And, in doing so, they completely abandoned the real things that happened for sensationalized stories and 60 minute plots. Now, that’s not to say that I didn’t watch it, because I did. And I wanted Michael Landon to be my father in the worst way. But this was also my first (and certainly not last) realization that the book is always, always better than the television show or movie.

Thanks for joining us in the library . . . I mean exhibit hall . . . this month. Check back in on the 3rd Monday of June for a exhibit in the Museum of Me. And shout out to Kym for this really fun monthly blog prompt!

This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. I think those books came along for me as I was realizing one set of grandparents lived a life not that much more modern than Laura. They had a truck, but they pumped water by hand, had an outhouse and lived on land with farm animals. I loved most of the books, but had a less romanticized view of the life. A trip to the outhouse in the dark while owls are hooting will do that to a young city kid.

    One of my favorite children’s books was “Harriet the Spy”. One of the last memorable books I read before I started getting carefully curated books from the adult section at the library.

  2. I could not agree more, Carole! These books were integral to my growing up… and to my girls as well! I remember the year my Rachel put the set on her Christmas list!

    (and I agree with you on the TV series… although, I watched religiously and likewise wished Pa could be my dad!)

  3. Like you, I read the Little House series early on in elementary school, and then I read them again in school (we had a LIW day where we all dressed up!). I only ever watched a handful of episodes of the TV show; I guess I was lucky that they were in reruns by the time I was reading the books and I wasn’t very interested. Reading the books again with my daughter several years ago, I was a bit appalled at some of the content, but I suppose that was a different time.

  4. I feel the same way you do about The Little House series. I loved the books and read them multiple times, but the TV series just set my teeth on edge. Many of my friends enjoyed the TV show more and seemed to forget that it was written for visual entertainment and drama, it was not taken from the books. Like you said, the book is always better!

    (Love your Little House dress!)

  5. I confess that I never read the Little House books. I don’t know how they flew under my radar, but they did. Books are better 99% of the time, I think, because they allow us to impose our own imaginations on the story.

  6. I have no idea why I did not read the Little House books. I was always an avid reader from a very young age as well…maybe one day I’ll have a grandchild to read them too! Great exhibit Carole and you are rockin’ in that dress. 🙂

  7. Love that picture of you in your Little Prarie dress!! I’m another one who did not read those books…not sure why becaues I, too, was an avid reader (always had my nose in a book). I also didn’t watch the TV series. I will say that books are ALWAYS better than the TV show or movie (at least for me).

  8. oh I LOVE this exhibit! We moved from south Texas to Wyoming the summer before I started 4th grade and I discovered the Little House books that fall. I made a new friend and we read the books together and had so much fun drawing the women of the time with their long calico dresses, and we always pictured them with their hands clasped in front. I still have all the books and have enjoyed dipping back into them.

  9. Loved those books, too, Carole. (My sister loved them even more, though!!) My school friends and I used to play out scenes of the series at recess sometimes. We turned the climbing equipment into “covered wagons” and off we went . . . exploring the prairie. I was a little bit too old for the TV version of the Little House books, so never really watched them. You’re right, though . . . the book is always better! XO

  10. I was 9 years old when I started reading the Little House books. I was living in the UK (military brat) and the little British girl next door gave me the first two books as a gift at my birthday party! Totally agree with you about the television show. I think my favorite book was “On the Banks of Plum Creek.”

  11. SAME SAME SAME!! Those books started a lifelong interest (borderline obsession) with “women of the west” — pioneers, adventurers, get-it-done-ers — which grew to include biographies & memoirs, and ancestry. (I wanted so badly to find “our” Ingalls Family!)

  12. I too loved the Little House books. I’ve even re-read them as an adult – more than once. And sadly, I’m still, to this day, have a ridiculous fear of panthers in the trees at night. LOL Remember when Pa was late coming home and the panther was stalking him and jumped on him? It totally traumatized me and I can’t help but feel uncomfortable outside after dark if there is a tree within 100 yards of me. Silly and ridiculous, but I still shiver at the thought of it.

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