Chasing Laura Ingalls Wilder: traveling through her world, one homesite at a time

Are You Ever Too Old to Read the Little House Series?

One of my colleagues asked this question a while ago:

Why should an adult who has never read the Little House books read them?

I’ve thought about this question for a while, and I haven’t come up with a good answer. I know what I think as an adult reading them, but that opinion is colored by over 30 years of reading the books, particularly in childhood. To me, childhood—mine in particular—is entwined with the Little House books. I grew up with Laura ten, maybe twenty separate times while I was growing up myself. I always found something to fall in love with on each reread of the series. (I definitely did during the readalongs on Beyond Little House, discovering or noticing phrases or feelings I’d never quite discerned before. I love that.)

But I don’t know what a first-time reader would think, as an adult. Would it come across as strictly a children’s book series? Or would it transcend age, the way it always has and always will for me? I admit, I can’t decide. I couldn’t say definitively what an adult first-time reader would get out of reading the series.

What do you think?

(I just thought of someone who read—and loved—the Little House books as an adult: Dean Butler, who played Almanzo on the TV show. He even wrote a comparison on his blog of These Happy Golden Years to the way the TV show treated Laura and Almanzo’s courtship. And here’s another two: Kara Lindsay (Broadway! Wicked! Newsies!) and Kevin Massey, who played Laura and Almanzo, respectively, in Little House: the Musical, which toured nationally in 2009-2010. And who got married later on.)

  1. Reply

    Your blog is making me want to read these all over again – just after I gave my copies to a friend’s daughter. Oh well.

    You have been nominated for a Beautiful Blogger Award! http://adiscounttickettoeverywhere.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/haiku-day-and-beautiful-blogger-award.html

    • Julie Welch on May 21, 2012 at 7:20 am

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    It’s funny because I too have read the books as a child and as an adult and when I read this I thought, of course you can enjoy the books without having read them as a child… And then I looked over at my copy of Anne of Green Gables, which I bought in February, that I cant bring myself to read. I’m Canadian so I’ve always felt out of the loop around “Anne fans” I thought I’d at least read the book so I’d know what the fuss is about, but I have to say it seems odd to me to read it now. Maybe people reading the Little House books as adults feel the same? I would highly recommend it! I think they will be pleasantly surprised! That said I guess I will attempt to ” bond” with Anne again :)

    • Kathryn on May 21, 2012 at 4:36 pm

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    I didn’t read the Little House books until I was a sophomore in high school. Not quite an adult, but a bit more than a child :) They made me nostalgic for all of the simplicity of my childhood (oh the jadedness of teenhood!) and I enjoyed them thoroughly.

    • Marilyn on August 15, 2012 at 7:32 pm

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    I too am Canadian and feel so much closer to Laura then Anne. I read my first Little House book after watching the show in grade 8. Back then it was fun to compare the books and the show. But since growing up and visiting the homesites, I am severly addicted to all things Laura. I have just attended the 2nd annual Laurapalooza a month ago and since then haven’t been able to get enough about her. I own over 100 books either by Laura or about her. My friends around me “don’t get it” but I encourage them to read the books. I have yet to find anyone in my Ontario hometown that is as enthralled with Laura as I am.
    But I still have hope.

    • Linda Lenhardt on May 17, 2013 at 1:03 pm

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    I discovered these Laura books for the first time as an elementary school teacher. They were in my classroom library. I was put off by the crude illustrations, but started the first one because I knew I should read what my little students were reading. I was hooked at once, and read every one of them—just gobbled them up. Have read some of them many times and enjoy them over and over. Just wish Michael Landon had chosen something else to make his foolish TV show about. Can’t stand those because they are not true to the times, and they violate the very spirit of the books.

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