What you may or may not know about me is that I am a sucker for the 19th century. In fact, I often find myself wondering if I was born in the wrong era. I have loved books of this era since I was a little girl and I think it was around grade three when my mom ordered me my boxed set of Little House on the Prairie through the Scholastic book order. My Little House books have been read time and time again, with the most recent reading happening right now. I’m currently working my way through “These Happy Golden Years” for the umpteenth time. “These Happy Golden Years” is a Christmasy, warm-fuzzy-feeling, love story suggested to me as this week’s read by my good friend, Karen. Karen is also a sucker for 19th century reads and our friendship is essentially rooted in this wholesome literature. Thankfully, Karen is also realistic about how good we have it in the 21st century. Our text message conversation from earlier this week:
We are completely aware that we are dorks…but we don’t care.
What I love the most about this book (and all Little House stories, actually) is the simplicity, the family values and the wholesome life lessons intertwined throughout all the stories. Call me old fashioned, but I just adore this literature. For me, reading Little House offers a precious and unique opportunity to glimpse into a former time in a near-biographical, yet fictional, way. Throughout the series two of the main characters, Ma and Laura, both serve their time as school teachers. I love how the beloved and famous author, Laura Ingalls-Wilder, offers pearls of school teacher wisdom in nearly every chapter. Rereading this book has been somewhat of a reassurance for me, being a new teacher with her first class, because it is in this book that Laura, at only 15 years of age, first experiences teaching her own school. Here are a few examples from “These Happy Golden Years” that resonate with me:
“Do you think I can [teach school], Pa?” Laura answered. “Suppose…just suppose…the children won’t mind me when they see how little I am?” (p. 2) (Not that I am particularly “little”, but many of my students definitely are taller than I am!)
“That is the teacher’s table,” Laura thought, and then, “Oh my; I am the teacher.” (p. 14) (This goes through my mind almost every single day).
“Then the boys ran races in the snow outdoors [during recess], while Martha and Ruby watched them from the window and Laura still sat at her table. She was a teacher now, and she must act like one.” (p. 17) (This, too, goes through my mind quite often…like today when my students were playing a song by Beyonce at lunch time and I began singing and dancing in class, and then they laughed at me. Not very teacher-esque, but I can’t help it!)
“[Laura] was so worried about her school. In spite of all she could do, everything went from bad to worse. It all started on Monday[…]” (p. 47) (That feeling of hopelessness when you’ve done all you can do and things still don’t and won’t work).
Quality goodness within these pages, I tell you! Now, if anyone can find me Little House’s Season One, Episode 9 (“School Mom”) online please forward me the link! It’s my all time favourite episode where Ma teaches Abel how to read, with the help of the rest of the students. My class would totally make fun of me for admitting this, but it makes me sob. Every. Single. Time.