In August, I treat myself to two kinds of books. I always read a good history book to get me in the mood for the classes I will teach come September. This year, I read a book about Eleanor of Aquitaine and I’m ready to rumble when the Plantagenet Kings are on the table in 6th grade. The second treat is a re-reading of a Laura Ingalls Wilder book. The Little House books were the books that most informed my childhood. I loved them beyond measure when I was a little girl. As an adult, I read all that I can about the Ingalls family and I always enjoy re-reading the Little House books.
This year, I picked Farmer Boy as my August read. It’s the story of the boy who would grow up to be Laura’s husband and in this tale of 10-year old Almanzo, the reader feels the contrast to the Ingalls’ more hardscrabble existence. Almanzo grew up on a prosperous farm in upstate New York and the descriptions in the novel are a rich collection of memories. From the detailed set of barns to the carefully kept parlor, the Wilders enjoyed a comfortable life on the farm. The adult Laura is clearly enamored with the white sugar and generous amounts of churned butter that the Wilders enjoyed. But like all of the Little House novels, there is a strong current of affection for hard work and love of family.
These books never fail to remind me of time long past in my life and the life of the characters. I love these stories like no other. A few days spent in the company of such familiar characters sets me up for the coming school year. That’s happy!