He loved them. I absolutely loved them.
I'd never read these books - not even as a child - though I'd seen the TV series. I had expected to enjoy them, but I have to say that they far exceeded my expectation. I simply loved them. As read-alouds, I simply cannot recommend them too highly.
Whilst on the subject of recommending, let me recommend reading aloud as an activity to any mums who don't already do it.
- the kids love it. It is, without doubt, our Wee Guy's favourite time of the day, and I don't think I ever read with him without hearing, 'Oh, mum, another chapter, pleeease.... Just one more!'
- it's a precious time for mums. Both he and I love snuggling up on the sofa. He may move on to 'better' times in his life. I doubt I will.
- so many opportunities for discussion arise. In the Little House series, we talked about the lives of pioneers, the sacrifices they made, the animals they encountered, the protection God had over them. We learnt so much about the way in which they farmed, and especially about the countless ways in which they used all kinds of foods. In Farmer Boy, I was in awe of Almanzo's mother and her knowledge of what to do with every single part of a slaughtered animal or a harvested plant.
Our generation is so ignorant compared with those who went before us.
As for this series, I'm going to ask the Wee Guy a few questions.
Mum: Out of the whole series, did you have a favourite?
Calum Stewart: Yes, I think it was Farmer Boy.
Mum: Tell us what you liked about Farmer Boy.
Calum: I like books which tell of times that are going well, and in Farmer Boy, life was going good. I loved reading about all the work Almanzo was doing on the farm.
I loved reading about the County Fair where he entered a Pumpkin competition. He won it and then he worried that he may have cheated in the way in which he fed the pumpkin ... he'd fed it with milk, and had left the plant with only that single pumpkin. He realised that his dad would never lie, and so he told the truth, only to be told that all was well. He'd won his prize fair and square!
Also, on Independence Day, the family went to town to celebrate. There was a stand with pink lemonade for sale at 5c per glass. Almanzo was being teased by his cousin that he wouldn't get money from his father to buy lemonade, but when he asked his father for money, his father gave him two things: the money and a choice. He said he could buy the lemonade if he wished, or he could buy a tiny piglet, which he could feed up, breed and make money from. Almanzo made the right choice! I loved reading about that!
Mum: Any other books that stand out for you, Calum?
Calum: I liked The Golden Years too. The Long Winter was a good book, but it was kind of hard to read - it was a terrible time for the family, and it really made you realise how hard some of the pioneers' lives were.
~ ~ ~ ~
I must say that these books stood out for me too. The Long Winter was tough - really, really tough. Reading it truly affected the way in which I bought, prepared and ate food for quite some time. I truly felt a thankfulness for our abundance - thankfulness which should be there at all times, but I have to be honest and admit that I take so much for granted.
In Farmer Boy, I was in awe of the knowledge they had, whether in the fields, in the barns or in the kitchen. No part of an animal went to waste, and all the vegetables and grains they grew were harvested and stored to give them an abundance of good food for the year ahead. Their work ethic was incredible. Almanzo's mother had no problem living up to the standards of the Proverbs 31 woman, in terms of her organisational skills, her work ethic, her knowledge and her running of her household.
Did she, and does she put me to shame? Without doubt - yes.
But what is even more awe inspiring than Almanzo's mum is Laura's Ma. In all her trials and hardships and difficulties - and, boy! there were plenty of them - she is not to be heard complaining. Not even once. Really, although these books are wonderful children's books, I would recommend them to anyone. I could do with being inspired again and again to be more like Ma, who always had a smile for her husband and for her children; who was gracious in her manner, regardless of circumstance; and who never ever complained, no matter what her lot was.
She was amazing.
We finished this series a month or so ago, and now we're onto reading Scotland's Story, by HE Marshall. Although we haven't finished reading the book yet, I'd have no hesitation in recommending this as a read-aloud too. The Wee Guy is loving it, and I'm learning so much about our own history from it.
If you have made a habit of reading aloud with your kids, I'd love to hear from you. Was it an enjoyable time? What made it better? Or what could spoil it? Which were your favourite books? How old were your kids when you stopped reading aloud with them?