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Little House in the Big Woods

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

“Little House” … Treasured Time

When the grandkids visit, we’ve been reading “Little House in the Big Woods” by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Let me just say that I highly recommend moms and grandmothers everywhere doing this. I am amazed at the organic conversations that just naturally emerge from this reading. When my own children were young, I assigned the reading of this set of the Little House books and they enjoyed them. But we did not necessarily talk about them. But this read-aloud is a different kind of thing, altogether. Don’t listen to an audio book, either. Let them hear your voice and let them interrupt. It’s a slow process, but it is so worth it!

The book mentioned that none of the children in the narrative got a switch in her stocking for Christmas. My grandchildren thought a “switch” was an electronic gaming system. They were shocked to learn that the original was a tool for corporal punishment. We went outside and I helped them choose an appropriate switch for a disciplinary switching, telling them all the while about what kinds of offenses required me (their grandmother) to go out in the yard and choose a switch for my own “whipping” (as it was called, although it was never really that). They listened with great interest and there were lessons about crime and punishment, about degrees of severity and about good parenting. They chose (and re-chose) which little bendable sticks were fit for the job.

Then we ventured into what kinds of infractions require punishment and which ones are just learning experiences. They heard about the time I stood proudly in my grandmother’s lap at age 3 during the Lord’s Supper, looked back over the crowd (we were on the third row) and sang the television commercial jingle “Winston tastes good like a (clap-clap) cigarette should!” When they finished the uncontrollable laughter, they wanted a lesson about why there are no cigarette commercials today and Ezra explained that to the girls, ending with “No one knew that smoking was bad until about 60 years ago. Lots of good people did it. I learned that from Papa and from watching ‘Highway Patrol. All the good guys on there smoke.”  

There are home-keeping lessons about making jellies and drying meat and churning. I showed them a butter churn. They couldn’t believe that real butter is not yellow, but white, and they really could not believe you can dye butter with carrot juice to make it yellow. “But won’t the butter taste like carrots?” 

The girls in the story like to look at pictures in the big Bible. Colleyanna simply could not believe that people in a story book that is not a Bible story book were looking at a Bible. This was a great moment to talk about how sad it is that most families today do not look at their Bibles, but in the late 1800’s, the family structure in America was largely centered around the Word and its principles. This was not uncommon, at all. 

I could write more extensively, but you get the point. Ezra sometimes wants to know why he needs to read chapter books like “Boxcar Children” books when it is “resting time” instead of feasting on Garfield comics or playing Minecraft. There’s a place for some of the “candy” reading and playing. But all of this, is why the wholesome chapter books. 

They don’t even know they love this nap-time ritual. But they do. There’s no complaining–ever, about reading time. And they all want to sit right beside the book (and me.) It’s a good kind of crowded.

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