I took it slow, reading only about half the chapter every day. I knew she had an excellent attention span and comprehension for someone her age (a result of being read aloud to almost from birth combined with no television viewing) but some of those chapters have long descriptive passages that were beyond her knowledge base and so could easily lose the attention of one so young. Olivia loved it. It delighted her to encounter the expanded episodes she was familiar with from the My First Little House Books. (I think the pace we took was perfect for her.) To this day she remembers the story of Ma slapping the bear (thinking it was Sukey the cow), and cousin Charley's version of The Boy Who Cried Wolf, where his trouble-making lands him in a yellowjackets' nest, and he has to wrapped in mud and linens to bring down the swelling.
Coincidentally (or maybe not) this is the first novel I remember being read aloud to me, and it made a big impression on my young mind, too.
Our family has gone on to read more of the Ingalls family adventures in:
- Little House on the Prairie where the family leaves the Big Woods because they were getting too crowded to Pa and journeys to the Kansas Territory. It tells of life on the trail in the covered wagon, the family building their log cabin and the problems of life on a flat prairie in Indian Territory (wolves, a prairie fire, etc.) (Be aware that this book contains some of the prejudiced attitudes of white settlers at the time. But I thought the scenes where Laura and her Pa discuss those issues were very poignant, since Pa recognized the problem that people like him were creating by their westward expansion -i.e. the Native Americans being booted off their land- but didn't know what to do about it. Toward the end of the book, this forced migration is something Laura witnesses.) In the end, the Ingalls family is evicted from their land by the U.S government as well.
- Farmer Boy is about Almanzo Wilder (Laura's future husband) as a boy in on a large farm in New York state.
- On the Banks of Plum Creek has the family leaving the Kansas territory and settling in a dugout on Plum Creek in Minnesota, before Pa builds a house with machine sawed lumber. In this book Laura and Mary go to a real school and church for the first time, and meet obnoxious Nellie Oleson. The family also has to contend with a plague of locusts, which forces Pa to walk to find a job three hundred miles away in order to feed his family and be able to buy grain for the next planting season. Ma and the girls has to cope with everything in his absence.
- By the Shores of Silver Lake takes place five years after the family first came to Plum Creek and finds the family just recovering from a scarlet fever epidemic. Mary has been blinded by scarlet fever. and Grace has been added to the family. The family (Baby Grace has joined the family) moves to the Dakota territory, where Pa works as the pay clerk for the railroad company. And the family becomes one of the first to settle in DeSmet. (This one was our least favorite so far.)
That's as far as we've gotten in our reading aloud. We will probably revisit the series toward the end of this year, rereading Little House in the Big Woods for Susanna's benefit. She will be delighted to read about a girl who is her age. (She seems a little obsessed by that idea right now.) And my older girls appreciate it more at their "advanced" ages than they did at three and two.
I would highly recommend the series for young boys. There are tons of exciting things that happen.
- Little House in the Big Woods
- Little House on the Prairie
- Farmer Boy
- On the Banks of Plum Creek
- By the Shores of Silver Lake
- The Long Winter
- Little Town on the Prairie
- These Happy Golden Years
- The First Four Years