Right now, I'm reading Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder to my 6-year-old and having the same reaction to it that I did 30 years ago: it's okay. Yup, just okay. I know this is heresy to legions of Little House devotees (dare I say fanatics?), my sister among them, but these books just don't have the emotional resonance for me that the Ramona series or the All-of-a-Kind Family series (which a friend called, correctly, I think, "the Jewish Little House books") or, for an older audience, Anne of Green Gables, do. Laura herself was bored during those long winters - why did she think they'd be any more interesting for her readers? To be fair, the books are not nearly as boring as they could be, but they just don't do it for me.
And yet, I am finally reading them to my daughter for a number of reasons. Peer pressure was one - many of her friends are reading it too. But I also I felt that it was part of the children's canon, books that every (girl) child should read in order to be culturally literate.
I'm not sure what accounts for the series' appeal, but the hardships faced by Laura and her family and their lack of technology, not to mention what we consider basic creature comforts (like indoor plumbing) are fascinating to some. But not me. I can relate to many books that I "shouldn't" be able to - books set in a time and place I know nothing about, like Anne of Green Gables and The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate but not these. I love plenty of spunky heroines (Anne and Calpurnia again being prime examples) but for me, Laura isn't one of them. I guess it just comes down to chemistry. It's just not there between me and Laura.
If you or your child loves the Little House books, why?