Thursday, March 31, 2016

Why I Read the Little House Series

I've always been a reader.
Since I was young, I've had favorite books
that transported me to places I knew I'd never see.
One special moment came in the 4th grade
when I was leaving my beloved teacher and class behind
to move to Florida with my family.
We'd been reading  
Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach
and savoring every page.
When my teacher awarded me the book,
signed by her,
I felt about 10 feet tall.
I still have that book.

Books can serve as reminders of where life can take us.
No matter our circumstances,
we can overcome anything to create our dream life.
It's possible 
because authors make those dreams come true

I don't remember reading The Little House Series
when I was coming up.
Not sure if it wasn't in the curriculum
or if teachers in those days chose the books we read.
One thing I know for sure though.
I'm so glad I discovered them in my 50's.
Yeah, I'm 55 and I read (present tense) the Little House Series.
There is something so compelling about them.
They connect me to the part of myself
that I like the best, the homsteader in me.

Here are a few reasons why they are so dear:

1.  Historical significance-
I'm a sucker for anything having to do with American history, especially pioneering times.
It's amazing what families had to endure to settle themselves
in the old West.  From the wagon trains to staking a claim,
to living out their lives on their own homestead in a hand-hewn cabin, 
I marvel at the resilience of the early pioneers.

2.  The homesteading philosophy-
Starting a homestead from scratch meant that settlers had to make do with what was available.  
That meant keeping things as basic as possible, 
as well as using what Mother Nature provided to survive.
This included everything from the cabin's construction materials, to the food they ate, 
to making sure water was readily accessible.

3.  Integrity in action-
 As self-reliance was paramount to survival, homesteaders had to have an impeccable work ethic. 
Folks took pride in their tasks, whether baking bread or shoeing horses.  
Everyone was a specialist, and yet most homesteaders had to be proficient at many skills.

4.  Everyone's job was valued-
Along with becoming adept at skills, each contributor was esteemed for their contributions to the society as a whole.  Those who wanted to learn were taught by folks who felt pride in the passing on of knowledge.
Both teachers and students were highly regarded
and natural learning was a way of life. 

5.  Appreciation for the simple things-
Having a tidy home and a well-organized homestead showed that one's possessions were prized 
and had only been acquired by hard work and determination.  
A bag of flour or sugar (or nails) was a valuable thing in a time 
when nothing was promised to anyone in the new territory.
Family time together was most cherished, 
as the majority of waking hours were spent working and keeping the homestead up and running.

6.  Living with the seasons-
Whether haying, gardening, tapping trees or harvesting, 
homesteaders had to learn to tailor their work according to the time of year.  
Their diet was also adapted to what could be grown, preserved or stored, 
depending on the climate and weather.  
Staying in tune with Mother Nature ensured that they could not only survive, 
but thrive through the harshest of conditions.

For these reasons and more, I will keep on rereading 
The Little House on the Prairie books.
If you've never read this series,
I strongly urge you to consider adding it to your must-read list.
If it's been a while since you've enjoyed the Little House books,
think about revisiting Laura and her family.
You might just learn something new.

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