Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My Childhood Reading Obsession

As a child, the stories that I could snuggle up with and lose myself in for hours were the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Something about the author's spontaneity and passion just drew me in, and I could spend hours reading about her adventures.

I don't remember how I first got hooked on this series...maybe my mom gave me the first book, Little House in the Big Woods, as a birthday gift, or perhaps I asked for one of Wilder's books when I saw it at my school's book fair. Either way, I remember diving into the pages as soon as I finished my homework. I believe I would even sit down at the dinner table with my nose still in the pages of the latest Little House story, prompting my parents to pull it from my hands and place it in the bookcase until later. Wilder's nostalgic recounts of times spent with her sisters, Mary, Carrie and Grace always left me longing for a sister of my own to share in my laughter and tears. She so flawlessly describes the inner workings of her family during a time of challenging living conditions that many today would find unimaginable.

A specific memory that Wilder shares had a significant impact on my eight or nine-year-old self, and I have also reflected on it in recent years. I do not remember which book that this story is from, but it describes a winter that was particularly tough on the Ingalls family. A blizzard came across the prairie and left a lot of snow, and Laura's father had to dig a tunnel to their barn in order to feed the animals and milk the cows each morning. At one point, her father also had to leave in order to go into town, and she writes of how she and her sisters waited at the window by a candle. It was by this candlelight that her father was able to find his way home through the blizzard. As a young reader, situations like this really put things in perspective for me and described a time before the luxury of electricity and heat, which is something that many today probably take for granted. However, this along with many other of Wilder's tales became timeless for me, and will always be cherished as a significant part of my childhood.