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on June 30, 2002
I received my Little House box set MANY, MANY years ago for Christmas, and it sat on my shelf, a treasure waiting to be fully discovered, for the better part of 2 decades. As an English major, I've spent many hours with Shakespeare, Jane Austen, the Brontes, Edith Wharton, and scores of other wonderful writers. Then one day, my best friend told me that she was reading "Little House in the Big Woods" to her 1st grade class, and that, to a child, boys and girls alike were mezmerized during story time - she'd never seen them pay such good attention.
That was all it took. One Sunday morning, I walked up to the attic, and brought down my set. Since then, I've read straight through them, often into the wee hours of the morning. The writing is outstanding (it actually becomes more grown up right along with the characters), and of course the love story is beautiful, but this series has much more to offer its readers - young and old. For one, you get a much deeper sense of how generations before us struggled, toiled really, to make this country what it is today. And the sense of family is amazing, particularly as Laura becomes old enough to live away from home and realize just how wonderful her family is.
Every child should read them. Better yet, every family should read them aloud, together. I certainly plan to read them aloud to my kids.
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on December 1, 2004
I got "Little House in the Big Woods" when I was 7. I remember crying when I finished it because I wanted the story to go on and on. I pushed and prodded my Mom to get the rest of the books. As quickly as they appeared as birthday and Christmas presents, I devoured them. Almost 35 years later, I can say that I have read almost every book that has been written by or about Laura.

Many other reviewers have pointed out the especially wonderful aspects of the books. The narrator ages as Laura grows up. (What a cool concept!) The story of 4 year old Laura's Christmas in Wisconsin is as real and moving as the description of 18 year old Laura falling in love with Almanzo in Dakota Territory. The images are always fresh, and the stories always epitomize wholesomeness. There is a consistency all the way through "These Happy Golden Years" that shows that great care and skill were employed to make the series unwaveringly good.

The real life of Laura was strenuous and uncertain. She was poor most of her young life. She and Almanzo faced great loss and always worked very hard to run their farm. The many moves made by the Ingalls and Wilder families were made to escape difficulties like failed crops or to improve bad situations like poor health. According to available accounts, Laura did not stay in close contact with her family after she left Dakota. Her relationship with Almanzo does not seem to have been remarkable, and her relationship with her only child, Rose, was strained.

However, all of these mundane details coalesced to create some of the best books ever written. Many readers do not know that Rose was the impetus for the Little House phenomenon. She became a writer first, and she saw how she could help her mother to take the story of her life and turn it into beautiful literature. There is controversy about how much Rose helped. Some say that she was a full fledged ghost writer. In any case, it is safe to say that the Little House series was a mother/daughter collaborative effort.

A talented mother and daughter turned the memories of a difficult, pioneering life into books that I could not put down. I read and re-read them until they became part of my life experience. I know that I am one of many for whom the experience made me love reading more, made me wonder more about how other people in other times lived, made me see how good people lived in the world, and made me more alive in some way. I cannot say enough good things about these books.

Every child should read them, and every adult should read them again!
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on February 11, 2000
I always wanted to read these books, but I never did as a child. I am now 27 and I am totally enthralled by this series. I have always been an avid watcher of the TV series, but I feel you get a more intimate look at Laura and the Ingalls through the novel. I enjoy how the descriptions in the stories actually make you feel like your are traveling with the Ingalls. Whether you are 8 or 88 these books help you understand the beginning of our nation. They remind you of what family, loyalty, respect, and responsiblity mean. I can not wait to share these with my nieces and someday my children. What a wonderful way to spend time, traveling on a voyage with Laura Ingalls Wilder.
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on January 14, 2002
One of the biggest fallacies about the Little House books is that they are "girls' books." It was that perception of the books, as well as the sappy, smaltzy "Little House on the Prairie" TV show, that kept me from reading these books until I was in my early teens. One day just out of sheer boredom, I read my sister's worn copy of "Little House in the Big Woods." What a great book! A story of a family's survival in the wilderness with tales of bears, panthers, wolves, hunting, and all sorts of neat information on how pioneer people lived. "Little House in the Big Woods" erased my conception of the Little House books as "girlie stuff" and I promptly read the rest of the series.
Yes, some elements will appeal more to girls especially Mrs. Wilder's very detailed descriptions of women's clothing. (I generally just read what color the dress was and then skip over the rest of the description.) However, her stories about Indians, wild animals, blizzards, grasshopper storms, bandits, bullies threatening to beat up teachers, unruly students, unhinged farmwives, bossy older sisters, and a whole host of other great stuff will make these books fascinating to anyone interested in pioneer life regardless of gender.
Despite my age I still consider these among my favorite books. They are truly heartwarming classics with the magnificent illustrations of Garth Williams. Laura, the main character, will appeal to almost anyone- honest, principled, courageous, industrious, but with very human elements- including envy of her older sister and holding grudges, especially against snooty Nellie Oleson and her teacher (and future sister-in-law) Eliza Jane Wilder. The books are also a tribute to her father, Charles Ingalls, who emerges as a truly great man and father. A hard-working man upon whom fortune did not always smile, but always was able to remain unbowed regardless of misfortune. He was also a strict disciplinarian, who did not believe in sparing the rod, but also a truly loving father, who would do anything for his girls. Charles Ingalls, as seen through the eyes of his daughter, is a man worthy of any reader's respect.
For those who see images of Michael Landon and Melissa Gilbert when they hear the words, "Little House," please give the books a chance. They are really nothing like the TV series. Although Laura Ingalls Wilder infused her books with a great deal of sentimentality- they never descend into the maudlin syrup that was the hallmark of the TV series. One example of how different they truly are would be how they represented how Mary, Laura's older sister, lost her eyesight. In "On the Shores of Silver Lake" Laura describes how scarlet fever robbed her sister of her sight, but also proudly describes how that tragedy never brought Mary to tears. Mary always remained "patient and brave." In contrast, the TV show has Mary wailing, moaning, and carrying on until her family ships her off to a school for the blind. (In the books, Mary does eventually go to a college for the blind, but only after years of being an important and valuable member of the family despite her disability.) Once again, the Little House series is a perfect example of the books being vastly superior to any TV or film conversion.
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on November 13, 2012
I am a huge Laura Ingalls Wilder fan, and have ready many books by her and about her. I thought this 2-volume collection would contain more information than it does. It's basically the Little House set, unillustrated, with footnotes at the end. The footnotes are interesting but honestly, they don't add much to the Ingalls story. And I still prefer the old volumes with the extremely charming Garth Williams illustrations. I'm giving this 3 stars mostly because I love Laura's writing -- not so much for this new repackaging of her story.
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on October 31, 2012
These two volumes are a complete set of one of the most widely read series of stories about the American pioneer families. The presentation is consistent with the Library of America's intention to collect important fiction and non-fiction in permanent, high-quality editions. The volumes include a 20-page chronology of the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder, which helps set the context of the stories, and notes about things and people mentioned in the stories that might not be familiar to today's reader (for example, quotes of lines from songs of the period).

These books are an attractive set of an important part of American literature, intended for adult readers (much like the recently issued LoA set of science fiction novels of the 1950s). Young readers might start with paperback editions (though they will cost more in total than this set if the copies are new).
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on December 13, 2005
I remember my teacher recommending these books for summer reading as a nine year old boy about 25 years ago. At first, I thought they would be "girls-only" reading. Am I glad I read "Little House in the Big Woods". These are incredible stories of adventure, happiness, joy, sorrow and the like. They often made me think of how families sustained daily life in the harsh American plains alomst 150 years ago. I am not a huge fan of fantasy literature; these stories could well have been typical life for so many families living on the frontier. I purchased this box set for my son as well as my niece and can't wait for them to experience this wonderful American journey!! Kids (or adults, for that matter) won't want to put these book down!!
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on January 2, 2008
I got these books for my daughter and have been reading them to her before bed. I am disappointed that they do not have the illustrations I remember from the editions I read as a girl. The pictures really helped explain some of the unfamiliar objects from pioneer days. I was also surprised that the chapters are not numbered, but that's not really a big deal. The stories are as wonderful as I remember, I just wish they had included the illustrations from past editions.
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on November 27, 2002
I have been reading these books since I don't know how long and have been revisiting them again as I look for material to read my daughter. These are timeless wonderful novels. I remember the fascination with frontier and pioneer life of America when I was alittle girl. Reading them as an adult I am always charmed and interested in them.
Laura's writing is wonderful - it is packed with details not just of how they lived life, but how they made things - the recipes, the way they lit fires, made button lamps, beds, and everything. The writing is so vibrant and colourful it leaps off the page. It is wonderful that books are so transportable.
Of all the books the two I love best are Little House on the Prarie and On the Shores of Silver Lake. I think because they seemed the most hopeful and the most detailed (of all very very detailed books).
If you haven't read these then buy the whole set - they really are compelling reading, and for all the fuss about Harry Potter (which I enjoy immensely) I love these more, they are pure humanity.
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on November 30, 1999
These books are delightful and stand the test of time. I am 36 years old, and started reading these books when I was 9. They paint a realistic picture of a midwestern family's everyday life. The stories are compelling and heart warming. I have just started reading them to my 4 year old daughter, and look forward to story time every night. They are excellent for both child and adult.
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