Little House, Big Influence
By D'Ann Mateer
So I had a post about a children’s book all set and ready to go.
Scheduled to post.
Then my husband took me to see Little House on the Prairie, the Musical and I knew I had to write about the Ingalls family instead.
My set of Little House on the Prairie books came on my 8th birthday. That’s a long time ago now, but I still have them. I still read them.
(Yes, this is my actual set of books. Can you see how well-loved they are?)
Yes, you read that right. I still read them.
While the new stage musical didn’t make me jump up and cheer, it reminded me why I love these books. It’s because they’ve been with me through every stage of life. I meet Laura as a young girl. I followed her through the first four angst-filled years of her marriage. But the hold these books have on me is about more than following Laura’s life through the pages. It’s Mary and her incredible goodness. It’s Ma and her amazing wisdom. It’s Pa who never gives up and always has a song, in spite of the circumstances. It’s Mr. and Mrs. Boast and their hospitality and generosity. Ida’s and Mary Powers’ and Minnie’s undying friendship with Laura. Almanzo’s faithfulness. Mr. Edwards’ spunk.
I still pick up The Long Winter when life is stressful and I need a reminder that even when life is at its worst, the snow will eventually thaw, spring will eventually come. I reread These Happy Golden Years when I need to remember not the wildly romantic notions of young love, but the kind that comes slowly, in the midst of hard work and real life.
I understand that while these books are based on life, they are fiction. But somewhere in the blending of what was and what Laura Ingalls Wilder wished would be, a picture of truth emerged. Of wisdom to be gleaned. From good example and bad. Through suffering and joy. I’ve become a part of the Ingalls family over the years. Or maybe they’ve become part of mine.
What children’s (or middle grade or young adult) books still speak to you as an adult? Do you still reread books from your childhood?