Thursday, February 16, 2012

Read-Aloud Thursday // The Long Winter

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We recently finished our first read-aloud of 2012: The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder. This was always one of my favorite Little House books as a child, and now, reading it as an adult, I'm wondering why. : ) Don't get me wrong, I still absolutely loved it and loved reading it to the girls for their first exposure to the story.

However.

As a mama reading this book? They were STARVING to death, enduring days of darkness and subzero weather and struggling to heat their little home. The six Ingalls literally huddled around their small stove all day long during the blizzards except when venturing out to their shed to twist hay for more fuel. The picture the book painted was much bleaker from my adult eyes that as a child. I can't imagine being Ma, sitting there day-in and day-out, not able to do anything to help her family. I imagine there were a lot of prayers issued while they sat and rocked during those many blizzard days and nights.

From the girls' point of view: they picked up on the fact that the family didn't have much food and that there were some points through the winter where they weren't sure where the next meal would come from. We were all on the edge of our seats for the chapters where Almonzo and Cap Garland went searching for wheat to hopefully help the town survive through the winter. And we were all joyful when the train finally arrived and they had so many things to choose from to eat!

This was a wonderful book for us to kick-off January with ... my one regret was that our weather didn't really cooperate and provide the snowy cold days I was hoping would accompany our book! : ) Oh, well! For our next read-aloud(s), we currently have three books that we are reading from at various points in our day. (Most unusual for us!) We are reading Ben and Me during our school time as we study the beginnings of the Revolutionary War; our lunchtime read (a habit I'm trying to get back into) is The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White, accompanying our bird studies in science; and in the evenings, as our activities permit, we are reading The Mysterious Benedict Society. We'll see if Mama (and her voice) is able to keep up with all these books!

I'm linking up with Amy and Read-Aloud Thursday this week. Join in with us at Amy's blog Hope is the Word!

ETA: I'm also linking up with Barbara's Laura Ingalls Wilder reading challenge!

14 comments:

  1. Oh, I know what you mean about not really remembering how bleak life was for the pioneers. I've been reading Let the Hurricane Roar by Rose Wilder Lane this week, which is the story of Charles and Caroline when they were young and first married and moved west. Wow! What a lot of hardships they had.

    Lulu read The Long Winter this week. She's on a LIW kick again. :-)

    I know what you mean about your voice giving out. I'd like to juggle more long read-alouds at a time, but I'm not sure it's possible at this point in our lives. :-)

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    1. I haven't read that one yet. May have to see if my library has it!

      I read (maybe last summer) the Ingalls book that Cynthia Rylant wrote - the one that talks about the little boy that died. So sad. The girls were asking me about him the other day and why/how he died and why he wasn't in the stories, and I told them that I figured it was such a sad time for Laura that she didn't want to write about it. I'm glad she shared some of the hardship they went through, but I imagine some of it was just too hard to write about.

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  2. I find that I read a lot of beloved books from childhood with a different perspective now as an adult. We are also working our way through the Little House books and I have a whole new perspective on Ma. I wanted to kill Pa at the end of Little House on the Prairie when he decides they are going to pack up everything, leave the home they have worked on for the past year and move THE NEXT DAY. As a kid I remember thinking it was all just part of the adventure.

    Last year we read From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, one of my childhood favorites. This time it was partially ruined by me worrying about their poor mother at home who must have been worried to death.

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    1. Exactly!! I'm finding the same thing as I'm rereading old favorites. I picked up the Mixed Up Files a few weeks ago and read a chapter or two. I'm sure I'll go back to it, but all I could think at the beginning was how bad the daughter was being for wanting to run away. : )

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    2. This is so funny...I wrote about "The Borrowers" this week, and I kept having a sense of dread on the characters' behalf through the whole book about how things were going to turn out for them. I'm glad I'm not the only one worrying about the characters in children's literature! :-)

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  3. If you want a great book for your bird study, you should also read A Nest for Celeste. It is a gem!!!

    Your read alouds sound great -- don't you just love that time spent with your children??

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    1. Thanks for that suggestion. I will check that one out - it looks really cute!

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  4. Your posts just make me so happy! ;D haha!

    I started reading Little House in the Big Woods aloud to Bookworm1 yesterday. I didn't realize how accessible these books are to young readers! There is plenty to be had in them for children and adults alike. I'm enjoying it! (Him? Not so much perhaps. But blowing up a pig bladder and using it as a balloon is plenty interesting to think about.)

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    1. Isn’t it great! The only one that we got really bogged down with (and didn’t finish) was By the Shores of Silver Lake. I want to try that one again, but we just weren’t into it and moved on. The Big Woods is one of my favorites. I bet he would love Farmer Boy, too! That one always makes me want to eat though. : )

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  5. Oh I remember this book so well! We are reading through the LIttle House series as well. Thanks for some great thoughts on this chapter, I am indeed thankful for all that we have!

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  6. I also liked it as a kid...but it was so SAD as an adult! Isn't MBS awesome?? Do you like Trumpet of the Swan? What age group do you think it's for?

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    1. We are thoroughly enjoying The Trumpet of the Swan right now as our lunchtime read. The chapters are just the right length for us to finish during the meal. I'm reading it to a 2nd grader, Kindergartener, and pre-K-er (with a 16month old as well), and they are all following along with the story really well. I didn't remember all the descriptive passages that the author has in the book, especially from the viewpoint of the swam father, who is very talkative, and we've been able to tie it into our science/bird studies as well. We (even unfinished) highly recommend it! : )

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  7. I do remember this as being pretty bleak, and appreciating different aspects of the books at different times when I read them.

    I've been hosting a Laura Ingalls Wilder reading challenge this month, ending tomorrow with everyone having a chance to link up their LIW reviews or thoughts. I'd love to have you link this post up to it.

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Thanks for commenting!