What “Little House on the Prairie” is Teaching my Girls

I love reading out loud to my girls… They both have their favorite books which I (or their dad) read to them near daily. But one we ALL enjoy is Little House on the Prairie! When we started it, I thought maybe Hailee would be too young to grasp it. But she has surprised me! She LOVES every character, she gets anxious when Laura does, she’s curious for Laura to meet some “wild Indians!” and smiles when we read how everyone dances around the fire while Pa plays his fiddle. She always gets a little sad and asks for me to read more after a chapter. We’re over half way through in less than a month!

(Claire usually enjoys a snack and a snuggle, and waits for the small black and white pictures… which is pretty much all she likes about the book. I’m not going to pretend it’s anymore than that. Just to keep it real. :) She doesn’t get it at all, but isn’t this a healthy habit? So I make her sit with us!)

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But I love reading this story for Hailee. How their dialogue  infuses Hailee’s every day conversations. (I see this happen with Disney movies too, but they’re not always positives!) ;) I think it’s important to immerse our children’s imagination’s with well-behaved, respectable, responsible characters. People who set a good example for them rather than bad. Girls who obey their parents and play together well, but not perfectly! They fight and disobey but the result is always a serious one. Women who work hard and speak kindly, and men who work relentlessly for their family. (Honestly I wouldn’t be ashamed to say it’s rather a good read for David and I too! You never get to old for good examples!)

There are, however, numerous, good reasons not to read her books like the one called My NO NO NO Day!… In which a little girl has a “bad day” (who doesn’t?!) and spends it throwing herself down, screaming “NO NO NO!” over things not going her way. At bed time, the mom has gentle and forgiving conversation with the girl. But she never gets sent to time out, or reprimanded in any way! Not a clear enough analogy for my 3 year old to “get the picture”! IMO. Every girl, big or little, has NO NO NO days but I don’t need to read to her how one little girl spends it flopping around on the floor and being an emotional basket case!

Take this for quote for contrast. They’ve been traveling for weeks, by wagon, from Wisconsin to Kansas (790 miles by our nice, modern roads!) Laura is hungry and tired.

“Ma, can’t we get out and run behind the wagon? My legs are so tired.” 

No, Laura,” Ma said.

“Aren’t we going to camp pretty soon?”

Pa answered. “Not yet. It’s too early to camp now.”

“I want to camp, now! I’m so tired,” Laura said.

Then Ma said, “Laura.” That was all, but it meant that Laura must not complain. So she did not complain any more out loud, but she was still naughty, inside. She sat and thought complaints to herself.

I love the truth in this! Laura is a little girl with innocent desires, but even the best desires must be ready to obey those who are protecting her. This exemplifies to my little girl, who has her own innocent (and not so innocent!) desires, that a little girl can obey and still be her own person. The hope is that as they grow up, their little hearts grow so that they discipline themselves and don’t grumble so much inside either, but let’s be honest, who out there NEVER really grumbles to themselves? I think it’s a well written, child like example that she can follow.

And don’t even get me started on all the stuff I love about Ma & Pa’s relationship, and parenting styles. :) That’s a different, longer post. Basically, if you’ve never read this series to your kids, try it! Boys love it too, I know for a fact. We just finished the third chapter in a row of how Pa built their house, chopping and splitting his own logs. Building his own door, with NO nails. He made smooth floor boards, and a rain-proof roof by hand with just his ax. It’ really is great for anyone who will listen! :)

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