Little House in the Big Woods (Little House, #1) Little House in the Big Woods discussion


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Is this a "girl" book?

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Kristen I have always loved Little House. I hated reading as a kid, but I loved the TV series.
I've had the books since I was a kid - I guess my parents were optimistic, lol - but I'm just getting around to reading them now. (Currently on book #2).

I think if I'd liked to read when I was little, I would have really loved these books. Being a girl, though, I'm not sure how much boys enjoy them.

I'm tempted to send them to my nephews after I finish with them, because I think there are parts that they would really enjoy (making the cheese, using all the parts of the pig, the stories about the bears and panthers, etc.), but I'm not sure the story as a whole would appeal to little boys.

So, I'm looking to hear from boys who've read the books, or moms of boys who've read the books, or whoever knows a boy who's read the books: How did you/they like them?


message 2: by Jon (last edited Feb 14, 2014 01:56AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jon I read through the series in elementary, but the only two I reread with consistency were Farmer Boy and Little House in the Big Woods. (i still read Farmer Boy every now and then.) :D

[edit: realized i didn't completely answer your question]

On the original read-through, yes, they were fun and kind of interesting. But! (there's always one of those) The primary reason I found them interesting is because my mom's mom used to tell me stories about growing up in Arkansas, travelling around in a covered wagon, etc etc. so reading the books were like getting a glimpse into her life. (for reference, the places where my parents were born are now nothing but an overgrown hillside and a wooded area off a dirt road, and they met working in the cotton fields...so you could say i'm not that far removed from the LH books.) :)


message 3: by Eliza (last edited Feb 14, 2014 06:16AM) (new) - added it

Eliza Foran No, I read them in first and second grade. They are mostly about childhood in the late 1800s. Laura is, in many ways, a tough tomboy which makes the book fairly versatile for any gender.


Kressel Housman I would say definitely yes, except that my oldest son enjoyed the series, too!


Drew I loved these books. My mom read them to me and my brothers when we were little, and as far as I know, they enjoyed them, too. And I just finished reading the first book to my eight-year-old brother, and he really liked it. I don't think they qualify as "girly."


Kelly Brigid ♡ Yes, I would say this is a girl book.


Iris I love the show so last year I went out and bought the box set. But I can't get into them. Maybe I missed the age group but the story seems to lag and the description is somewhat elementary. My sister and mother and several of my old teachers loved the books but I don't think that any boys over the age of eight would like them. Even prior to that age it's a toss up.


Kristen Iris wrote: "I love the show so last year I went out and bought the box set. But I can't get into them. Maybe I missed the age group but the story seems to lag and the description is somewhat elementary. My sis..."

I agree, I think you have to be younger to really enjoy the way the books are written. But my nephew loves learning things the way they are presented in the book. He hates reading though, lol


Lesley Arrowsmith It's a human book - it just so happens that the main characters are girls. Try showing the books to the boys and see how they like them.


Kressel Housman Laura's jealousy over Mary's blonde hair is something boys won't relate to, but everyone can love the story of the pig on the sled.


Lesley Arrowsmith Surely the point of reading fiction is to get into the heads of people who are quite different to one's self. When I was a kid, one of my favourite books was Eagle of the Ninth, which was about a Roman centurion on a secret mission, despite being a girl and not Roman. So why shouldn't boys be interested in jealousy between two girls - they'll surely know what jealousy feels like for other reasons than blonde hair!


Kressel Housman I think most boys' reaction to that would be, "Girls care about the stupidest things."


Kressel Housman I wish I'd read Farmer Boy as a child. It has such great messages about hard work and thrift. But I was turned off because it was a "boy" book. I had to become the mother of sons before I read it.


message 14: by Cj (last edited May 15, 2014 10:53AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Cj The Laura Ingalls Wilder books have a protagonist who is a girl. Does that mean young boys won't enjoy it? It depends on the child. I know girls who have found the stories too dry and boys who have enjoyed them. I think we really should stop asking that question and let the kid decide for him or herself. I feel asking that question about a series of books that are now considered children's literature is a bit myopic. That would be similar to asking if Catcher In the Rye is a 'boys' book. Whether it is or isn't doesn't change the fact that it is required reading in many primary school English classes. The Laura Ingalls Wilder books are often read to classes at library story times. And any child could benefit from reading about the trials and tribulations of another child from a different time. Let the kids decide what they enjoy.


Kristen Thanks for the input everyone. And just to clarify, I don't personally think that books about girls have to be only for girls and books with boys only have to be for boys. But when I was a kid, my brothers practically shunned anything remotely considered girly. Meanwhile, I loved most kid things regardless of the gender it was aimed at. My favorite toys were dinosaurs and My Little Ponies :)
Which is why I wanted opinions of boys who have actually attempted to read this series as kids.

My nephew lives far away and giving him or his siblings anything requires some sort of commitment. If they were close by I'd just show it to him and see, but as it is, I would either have to send my own copy and probably never see it again or buy a new copy and risk him never actually bothering with it....


Kressel Housman If this is for a gift, I'd start him off with Farmer Boy.


Kristen Thanks. I probably will.


Larry Piper I suppose the books in the Little House series are likely be enjoyed by more girls than boys. But having said that, I read them all somewhere between 4th and 6th grades, and enjoyed them immensely. I also remember that one of the most unlikely boys in my class, unlikely to me at least, Hunt Walker, was obsessed with the Little House series. Hunt seemed to me kind of like the dumb-jock type, although we didn't know about dumb jocks in those days.

When I reread Little House in the Big Woods recently, I realized that moving forward, Laura's experiences on the prairie will in some ways mirror those of my grandmother. Kinda awesome. With luck, Gutenberg.Canada will add more Wilder books to their collection soon, and I'll know for sure.


Emily I've been reading this series to my children; boy 6 and girl 9. I never read the series as a kid; only watched the shows and was skeptical that my son would enjoy them. I was wrong. They both love it. My son enjoyed "Little House in the Big Woods" because of Pa, hunting, survival skills, and adventure-"manly stuff".


Jefferson When I was a boy, I wouldn't touch the Little House books, because they had girls and families on the covers, and I preferred books about fantasy or medieval adventures with male heroes (like The Hobbit and Robin Hood and Stuart Little). When I FINALLY read the Little House series (and other "girl's" books like Secret Garden and Harriet the Spy) when I was in my 30s, they, especially the first three books became some of my favourite things in the world. I often use the first one with my university students in Japan, and the male students seem to like it as much as the female students (but they aren't little kids).

I suspect that, as it is with Japanese boys and girls, American girls tend to read books (and manga or comics) with boy or girl protagonists (for "boys" or for "girls), while boys tend to read books mostly with boy protagonists. I bet girls grow up much more open in their reading than boys, in general...

If your nephews would give the Little House books a try (especially the first three), they would probably like them, because, as other people have noted, Pa is quite the ideal masculine do-everything role model (and the books are just so well-written and so interesting historically), BUT you shouldn't be disappointed too much if they prefer to stick with more typical books for boys...


Amber Martingale No. I saw boys reading it too in grade school...mostly because f the TV series, though.


message 22: by Betty (new) - added it

Betty Davis No this is not a girl book. Both boys and girls loved this series as it took to them back to the pioneer days, and students dressed as they did in that era. Children also made butter and created their own covered wagon while calculating how much food and supplies they could carry on their wagon.


Sabreen EyesDanceInTheFirelight wrote: "Laura's books are for anyone and everyone, it doesn't matter what gender you are. They are about her adventures and life. Yes, I have to admit, it would probably entertain a girl more. But there ar..."

Agreed. Actually, I think any books can be for any gender. It really depends on the person.

@Jefferson, you're right about American girls reading either boy or girl protagonists, but American boys not reading about girl protagonists. Unless it's, say, the Hunger Games, and it has a lot of violence.

It's a double standard and frankly, it's gross.


Amber Martingale Agreed, Lilac.


Lesley Arrowsmith It's not just an American thing - in the UK it's always been believed that boys read about boys and girls read about girls and boys. One way round this was used by the wonderful Geoffrey Trease, who always had a boy and girl working together as his main characters.


Kristen I don't know that I'd call it a double standard, just that certain things that appeal to girls don't always appeal to boys, and vice verse.
I mean, how likely is it for a woman to read about hunting or something if it isn't a particular interest of hers? Or dancing for men?


Although, I think some of the influence concerning this goes back to when writing was considered masculine and improper for women to do. There were alot of masculine interests in books, centering around male characters, simply because the authors were mostly male.
Plenty of other things were considered either masculine or feminine that aren't necessarily any longer, and were discouraged for the opposite gender. I think there is some of that lingering thought imposed onto kids as far as what sort of interests they ought to have, and it influences their reading habits.


Amber Martingale Oh...is that why the Brontes and Jane Austen were so popular? Your "...simpy because the authors were mostly male" remark, Kristen.

The only thing that influenced my reading habits when I was a kid was the fact I was only allowed, at most, 2hrs. of TV a day and ONLY after homework was finished and when I finished my 2 hrs. of TV there was nothing else for me to do because Mom was dominating the computer to play PAC-MAN... . And I didn't have a dog at that time, so I couldn't play outside with my pet.


Bridgette As the mother of sons, I have tried to shove any form of literature down their throats for years - this one (if I had succeeded), they may have enjoyed.
The history, the detailed explanations of hog butchering and wagon building and maple syrup making would have been dog-eared - if I got them past the cover of Laura skipping with flowers.

At the risk of being EXTREMELY anti-feminist, I find that most books are 'girl' reads. In my experience, I know a small number of male readers - and they came to books late in life. By sheer advantage of patience (Mother of boys - I can say this ...) I think many books are 'girl' books. Face it - we are book-whores. We'll read anything. Narrated by a guy? I'll read it. Blood, carnage, criminal? I'll read it. Tea and crumpets by an Aga? I'm in.

The handful of books I've managed to convince (bribe) one of my two sons to read were strongly 'male'. Male lead character. Some history, some boxing, some politics. They are some of my favourites too - but I knew that Laura's corncob doll Susan wasn't going to make him turn another page. He'd never understand the adoration for Charlotte.

Books are - in theory - genderless. Any one out there who got their sons to read Laura? Bravo - bravo. I only got so far as teaching them to cook and do laundry. :)


message 29: by Amber (last edited Aug 07, 2014 10:52AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amber Martingale Bridgette wrote: "As the mother of sons, I have tried to shove any form of literature down their throats for years - this one (if I had succeeded), they may have enjoyed.
The history, the detailed explanations of ..."


I think you were describing the cover of ON THE BANKS OF PLUM CREEK, not the first book of the series. The cover I'm familiar with for *BIG WOODS* is from the Christmas chapter when Laura gets her first REAL doll (Charlotte)...not just a corncob doll (Susan). ;)


Morris Graham I like all of the Little House series. I especially liked "Little house in the Ozarks", which is actually Laura Ingles Wilder's discussing their life as adults on their apple farm in Missouri.

Morris


Mochaspresso It really depends on the boy in question. Some boys hate reading books that center around a female main character. To them, that makes the book a "girl book" by default. Then again, my brothers were those types of boys, but they used to sneak and read my "girl books" all the time.


Kristen Amber wrote: "Oh...is that why the Brontes and Jane Austen were so popular? Your "...simpy because the authors were mostly male" remark, Kristen."

First of all, your sarcasm is unnecessary. Second, if you knew a tad about history, you would know that Austen was published anonymously and that the Bronte sisters were published under pen names as well. Louisa May Alcott was published under a man's name. All because it was considered masculine.


Amber Martingale Morris wrote: "I like all of the Little House series. I especially liked "Little house in the Ozarks", which is actually Laura Ingles Wilder's discussing their life as adults on their apple farm in Missouri.

Morris"


It isn't part of the original series.


Amber Martingale Kristen wrote: "Amber wrote: "Oh...is that why the Brontes and Jane Austen were so popular? Your "...simpy because the authors were mostly male" remark, Kristen."

First of all, your sarcasm is unnecessary. Secon..."


Still doesn't explain why their popularity didn't vanish when the public found out these writers were actually women, does it?


Michell Karnes I read the entire series to my son and daughter when they were little and they both liked them. I also taught 3rd grade for years and we read Little House in the Big Woods and did a month long unit. All of the students seemed to really enjoy them. I now teach second grade and I read either Farmer Boy or Little House in the Big Woods as a read aloud. Little House in the Big Woods because it is the first in the series or Farmer Boy since it can be read as a stand alone story.


message 36: by [deleted user] (new)

If a book is good, it doesn't matter if it is a "girl book" or a "boy book".


Kressel Housman My son's favorites in the series were Farmer Boy and The Long Winter. Almanzo was the protagonist of the first and the hero of the second.


Kristen Amber wrote: "Still doesn't explain why their popularity didn't vanish when the public found out these writers were actually women, does it? "


It's not really that hard to figure out, if you think about it. A publisher is not going to stop printing a best seller because they find out the author is in reality a woman or because they learned her real name. And people who had already read and loved the book(s) wouldn't stop reading them either. The hard part was actually getting published and getting people to read the books in the first place.
However Jane Austen, for example, was not even given credit until after her death.


Kristen Rivka wrote: "If a book is good, it doesn't matter if it is a "girl book" or a "boy book"."

It shouldn't, no. But it does matter to alot of kids.


Amber Martingale Kristen wrote: "Amber wrote: "Still doesn't explain why their popularity didn't vanish when the public found out these writers were actually women, does it? "


It's not really that hard to figure out, if you thin..."


That was part of the problem. The "difficulty" of getting published if you weren't male... .


message 41: by Amber (last edited Jan 16, 2015 09:54AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amber Martingale Kristen wrote: "Rivka wrote: "If a book is good, it doesn't matter if it is a "girl book" or a "boy book"."

It shouldn't, no. But it does matter to alot of kids."


Then those kids are idiots who have bought into societal brainwashing. And so are the "parents" for allowing that to happen.


Kressel Housman C'mon. How many boys are going to relate to Laura for wishing she had Mary's blonde hair?


message 43: by Kristen (last edited Jan 17, 2015 12:12AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kristen Amber wrote: "Kristen wrote: "Rivka wrote: "If a book is good, it doesn't matter if it is a "girl book" or a "boy book"."

It shouldn't, no. But it does matter to alot of kids."

Then those kids are idiots who h..."



I wouldn't say it's societal brainwashing. At least not most of the time. That's not to say it's not a factor some times, but kids like things that they identify with. A big contributor to that is founded in their gender. My niece has four brothers(3 older) and is the most girly girl you will ever meet. She loves all things pink and purple, butterflies, sparkles, princesses, etc. And while her parents haven't discouraged that, they really haven't encouraged it either. She loves pink because she's a girl. That's it. No one told her to feel that way. Her older brothers certainly didn't influence that. They're typical little boys. Enamored with transformers and Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. And absolutely no pink.
Likewise, my youngest nephew LOVES cars. His older brothers liked them alright, but not like he does. He even got a toy for Christmas one year and was terrified of it until my brother told him it was a car. It wasn't really a car, but suddenly he liked it.
And by the way, these kids are all home-schooled and have limited television. So there's not alot of outside influences to make them feel that they have to like or not like a certain thing because of their gender.


Kristen Kressel wrote: "C'mon. How many boys are going to relate to Laura for wishing she had Mary's blonde hair?"

Yes, exactly. When I was a kid, I very easily got bored with movies if there wasn't a kid in it. The movie might have been fantastic, but if there wasn't a kid (preferably a girl), I was bored after like 10 seconds. And if there were fight scenes or car chase scenes or anything that a boy might absolutely love, I was even more turned off. And I was very encouraged to like "boy stuff" at that age thanks to my older brothers.


Lesley Arrowsmith Kristen wrote: "Kressel wrote: "C'mon. How many boys are going to relate to Laura for wishing she had Mary's blonde hair?"

Yes, exactly. When I was a kid, I very easily got bored with movies if there wasn't a kid..."


What does it say about me that I liked anything with sword fighting?


message 46: by [deleted user] (new)

I couldn't relate to Laura for wishing she had Mary's blonde hair.


Kristen Lesley wrote: "What does it say about me that I liked anything with sword fighting?"

That you liked sword fighting.
I don't think there's an exact formula for what anyone should or does like. But typically, kids mostly associate with things they see as being like them in some way. That's not to say they won't like anything else though.
My girly girl niece likes transformers because her older brothers like them.
I loved playing with dinosaurs as a kid because I loved The Land Before Time.


Kristen Rivka wrote: "I couldn't relate to Laura for wishing she had Mary's blonde hair."

I couldn't really either, but I think most girls with an older sister can relate in the way of being jealous of their sister in some way in their life.


Desiree Smolin The Little House books, in my opinion and experience are not "girls' books." My five sons enjoyed them. We read them together and they read them as individuals. Plenty of action, interest, and also that pervasive sense of contentedness & happiness with life (despite the hardships) and one's family & its circumstances. They are classics for good reason.


Dwayne Johnston I loved these books as a kid!All of them.


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