When I started homeschooling I wanted to add chapter books to my read aloud repertoire (which, up to that point was exclusively picture books). But what book to start with? What chapter book would be appropriate for a six and four year old? What would hold their attention as well as my own? I scoured the recesses of my mind for books that I had loved as a child. Then I remembered that I didn’t like reading as a child. In a flash of inspiration I remembered the books that my 2nd grade teacher read to my class during quiet time. So it was that Little House in the Big Woods was my daughter’s introduction to chapter books.
Seriously, is there another book series that optimizes childhood literature like the Little House books? Is there a child who doesn’t think of Laura and long to be her playmate? The legacy that Laura Ingalls Wilder has left has impacted countless children and their parents. How did these books come about? What inspired Laura to write what would become one of the most successful children’s book series of all time? Legacy Documentaries has released a documentary answering those very questions.
The Legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder introduces us to a brand new side to Laura Ingalls Wilder. Focusing predominantly on the adult Laura, we catch a glimpse in to her writing process, her relationship with Almanzo, and her life after Little House. Dean Butler, the man behind the face of Almanzo Wilder in the Little House on the Prairie TV series, is the man behind this movie. The Legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder shows us the personal story in a highly entertaining way by using dramatized scenes from her life, frontier artistry, and original music. We learn the story of a woman who saw the world she grew up in changing dramatically before her eyes. Originally published during the Great Depression, Laura’s goal in writing the Little House books was to capture the culture of her childhood so that children of the modern era would know what it was like to live back in the old days. The books gave a renewed sense of hope to the weary and downtrodden.
Lucy has read the first few books in the series on her own, and since she began Little House on the Big Woods she has longed to live in those days. She tells me all about how she learned how to make butter and use every part of the pig when you slaughter it. I thought she would like this documentary and I was quite right. We both really enjoyed our behind-the-scenes glimpse of this great American Icon.
I found The Legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder very enjoyable. The part I found especially interesting was the mother/daughter dynamic between Laura and her daughter Rose. Rose was an author, a journalist, and a political theorist who encouraged and mentored her mother in the writing of Little House on the Prairie. While Rose was a professional writer, Laura didn’t always appreciate her daughter’s guidance and they would often butt heads. For example, as the character of Laura in the book series grew, Rose wanted to shift the primary focus to the younger children of the Ingalls family so as to keep the target audience of younger children. As you can imagine, Laura did not agree: this was a narrative of her own life after all and she believed that the children who had read about Laura as children would want to follow her as she matured. Rose also didn’t always agree with some of the content that was included in the book, thinking the material was too raw for children. Again Laura insisted that she portray an honest account of her life. It’s also really interesting to learn about things that Laura purposely did NOT include in the books.
It has been years since I have read the Little House books, and my personal book lists tend lean on the academic or philosophical side. But the The Legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder has awakened in me a desire to curl up with these books and savor the story. As soon as I can I intend to reread them and remind myself why they continue top the list of classic book lists.
The Legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder (24.95) is an excellent addition for any Little House on the Prairie enthusiast or homeschool unit study. If your children are old enough to appreciate Little House, they are old enough to enjoy this movie. Legacy Documentaries has also produced Almanzo Wilder: Life Before Laura.
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