Little House Wisdom With Hannah

Today is my friend Hannah's birthday.  She's a real gem.  I am so fortunate to have her in my life.  Hannah works hard at everything she does and has a youthful spirit that makes her a boatload of fun, too.  Gosh does that gal know how to laugh!  
Playing Go Fish outside Hannah's little, off-grid house in southwestern Montana during the annual Star Party camp out for the Perseid Meteor Shower. 8/14/2022
In honor of her birthday I thought I'd something she said to me a few years back.  

We were reading our way through the Little House series in our book-club-of-two.  I had read nearlly all of them as a kid--Little House in the Big Woods and Little House on the Prairie repeatedly.  They were among my childhood favorites.  I would recycle and modify the storylines for my backyard play, envisioning myself homesteading and riding horses on the wild, open prarie.  Hannah can't specifically remember reading them as a kid, but suspects she probably came across at least one.  From February to June 2019 we read the nine books in the Little House series, enjoying this nostalgic romp through a "simpler time" together*.  
A clothes swap we co-hosted at my place when Hannah came back for a visit this summer.  5/30/2022
At one point during our book discussion, Hannah remarked:  

"What happened to that world!? I feel like we should live in a world of Lauras and we live in a world full of Verrucas."  

She was contrasting the understated, make-do, resourcefulness of the Ingalls clan with the “I want the world, I want the whole world,” entitlement of the extravagant Salt family from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, another book that we had previously read together.  It it was part of a conversation involving the Ingalls' homey and modest Christmas celebrations among other things. 

Reading with Hannah is wonderful because it brings us closer together and because she broadens my experience of the book.  I love getting her perspective.  We see things differently, we hone in on different things.  These Little house books inspired so much thoughtful, interdiscinplinary conversation.  Women's rights and lack there of.  Money, poverty, and what it means to be wealthy.  The value of a supportive family environment.  Overcoming adversity.  Marriage, friendship, and loyalty.  Globalization and population.  Culinary history.  Disability rights.  Love.  Medicine and health.  And so on. Being a story about a life I suppose it is only natural that the conversation would be so wide ranging.
Three college buddies reunite (me, Brittany, and Hannah) for a Yonder Mountain String Band concert.  Completely oblivious to Jeramy's photobombing shinanigens or the adorable huggers in the back.  1/21/2022
Hannah would soon follow up that observation with another:  

"In a world full of Nellie Olsens, be a Laura Ingalls."

I thought that was such a unique way of saying "Don't be a selfish jerk."  I enjoyed both of these statements strongly enough that I recorded them for posterity in my journal.  It an awesome illustration of how reading gives a person new language, new ways of expressing themselves.  Reading changes you!  I love that.  
Hannah, Chels, and me
*I was forced to realize it wasn't as wholly bucolic as it might feel in my childhood memory though, specifically when it comes to race and relations with the Native American population.  Yeeesh.  There are a few dreadful, shudder-worthy moments when viewed from my adult perspective here in the 2020s.  It led to thoughtful discussion with Hannah though which I think is a very valuable byproduct of reading literature that grinds against our ever-evolving cultural values and norms.


  1. What a treasure, to have such a friendship. I love the perspective you two came up with. Definitely be a Laura.

    1. Yes! Lauras for the win! And we are so lucky to have each other, me and Hannah. In fact, she's coming to town for a visit this weekend! Yay! We're going to talk about the book we're currently reading together--Island of the Sequined Love Nun by Christopher Moore. It is lightyears away from Little House.

  2. Yes I have to say when I read the books to Ben many moons ago I struggled to bring myself to read certain descriptions and phrases regarding the indigenous people but as a result it was a really good conversation starter. I love the phrase in a world of Nellie Olsen’s be like Laura Ingalls, so true x

    1. These are "tough conversations" but I'm glad we're having them in our homes.

  3. I am troubled when i think about this series of books also as well as the TV show. So many descriptions and phrases that are troubling now but that is what/how people really felt back then. Which is perhaps even more troubling than reading the words.

    on a different topic - i used to get email updates when you posted new content but for some reason don't anymore. How do i get subscribed again? thanks.

    1. It certainly is troubling to realize what values/opinions people accepted during the American expansionist era, probably all the more so because Little House has such a rather "wholesome" vibe. Which it certainly does have, BUT the troubling parts can't be ignored because of that. I have a text book from my local school district that was published in the 1940s. It flat out says that "most slaves were happy" and "did not want to be free." Can you imagine?!?! It is nothing short of appalling. As is the fact that my elderly neighbors were, quite literally, taught this in school. It is less of a wonder to me when I'm confronted with the passive (and overt) racism I see here. I sincerely think we're making progress, but it is so slow. There's a strong foundation to undermine.

      In regards to the other question: No. I don't know what happened or how to fix it. I had the same thing happen to me with all of the blogs I subscribe to read. It is weird!

    2. it is outragous. And when i think about disadvataged schools still needing to use outdated texts it is even more disturbing. (hopefully not that far back ...) Some progress is better than no progress but still it is so slow.

      it has happened to me for other sites as well and very strange. I do wish someone would figure out a workaround and share it.

  4. Yes! How did we all get so entitled and selfish!? (And also yes, there are some very troubling parts about Native people and brown-skinned people - we talked through those parts when I read them to my kids. I also talked to them how Laura wrote the books as an adult and glossed over some hard parts. Good to remember as we navigate real life!)

    1. More than anything I don't understand how it happenedso fast, Margo!! Thanks for having the hard, but important, conversation with your family.


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