For my first weekly post on my favorite stories, it’s only fitting to talk about my first favorite story: Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series.
I’ve loved those books for as long as I can remember. I’m sure my mother introduced them to me, but I don’t remember her reading them aloud. I was a precocious, self-taught reader who was reading at a 4th or 5th grade level in first grade, so I could’ve read the first 3-4 books on my own by then.
Pictures of me at 6 or 7 show a suntanned girl with two long braids of brown hair, just like Laura in On the Banks of Plum Creek. Laura was the first heroine I identified with. I too was a tomboy, a country girl going to school in town and struggling to fit in, a lover of horses, and a restless soul who always wondered what lay beyond the horizon. Pa and Ma Ingalls even reminded me of my own parents, since my mother was quiet, educated, proper, and a former schoolteacher, while Dad had more of a practical intelligence and was outgoing and well-liked wherever he went.
All through my childhood I loved reading about this girl who was so much like me, but who led such a very different life as a pioneer girl a hundred years before I was born. I read the entire series to tatters, and as I approached adolescence myself my interest turned to the later books. I envied Laura for her adventures and for getting to move so often while I was growing up in the same house for 18 years, and by the time I was 11 or 12 I envied her for Almanzo and the brown Morgans. (Actually, I’d still like my own brown Morgan. It’ll probably never happen, but it’d be awesome.)
I still pull the books out every few years, and they hold up very well to adult re-reading. There’s a wonderful spare lyricism to the prose style. It’s unadorned, but it doesn’t need lots of adjectives or a flowery style to paint a vivid picture in your mind. But I no longer envy Laura. Now I can see just how much hardship the family endured, and I can understand Ma’s frustration with just how long it took Pa to settle in one place so her daughters could get stability and a decent education.
What about you? What was the first book you loved, and do you still love it as an adult?