Tag Archives: Little House on the Prairie

Kids Travel By the Book

kid with suitcasekid with suitcaseSalon.com posted a great article about unusual travel destinations and the books that inspire families to visit. I love the idea and after you read the article, I’ve got a few more to share.

Little House on the Prairie series – Laura Ingalls Wilder House. Located in Mansfield, Missouri, readers of the Little House series (and/or TV show) get a look at artifacts from Laura’s life as well as her daughter’s, Rose Wilder Lane.

Anne of Green Gables series – Prince Edward Island, Canada. The tourism website for PEI (as its known) has an entire section devoted just to Anne and her fans. You can visit the farmhouse that inspired the story, watch the Anne of Green Gables musical, and walk the lanes and meadows that Anne did on the page.

Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Gardens – Springfield, Massachusetts. Walk among the characters that Dr. Seuss created in this amazing sculpture garden in the city in which he was born.

Little Women author Louisa May Alcott’s home – Concord, Massachusetts. Visit Orchard House and see where Louisa May Alcott spent a pivotal part of her childhood. Bonus: it’s walking distance to Nathanial Hawthorne’s home, Henry David Thoreau’s, and Ralph Waldo Emerson’s.

And for those of you able to swing a more expensive literary vacation, check out this tour of England that promises to show you all of Harry Potter’s hangouts, including Platform 9 3/4!

Platform 9 3/4

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Cooking the Books for Some Kid Fun!

readingTwo of my favorite hobbies as a child (and adult) were reading and eating delicious foods.

To this day, there are some foods that I continue to associate with favorite books.

For example, when I read Little House on the Prairie, I longed to taste Ma’s flapjacks.

In The Long Winter, which I read in the summer, I could feel the chill of the blizzards she described seeping from the page and into my fingers. I compensated for their intense hunger by making sure I didn’t miss a meal!

That one book may have inadvertently led to my habit of hoarding food in the pantry when winter begins peeking over autumn’s shoulder!

Little Woman made me long for crisp, delicious apples just like the kind Jo March ate while reading sad romances in the attic on a threadbare old couch. And when Meg made blancmange for Laurie when he was sick, I puzzled over what on earth the strange food could be (it’s kind of like a pudding or flan).

For younger children, there are other excellent books that really evoke a food, culture, or cuisine.

Who hasn’t had a craving for EVERYTHING after reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar for the one-millionth time? I imagine generations of parents finally getting their children off to bed and then heading for the fridge for one cupcake, one pickle, one Ritz cracker, one lollipop, and one stomachache!

PBS’s website, Kitchen Explorers, has a fantastic listing of other children’s books that just scream food.

Some – like Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs – will be familiar while others will be new.

I know I added several books to my child’s reading list after checking out this article and I hope you will, too.

Happy eating and reading!

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A Family Christmas

 

A Family Christmas

A Family Christmas

I’m an old hand at Christmas.  I’ve been celebrating the holiday as a Roman Catholic since I was born, after all.  But even I found a lot to enjoy and learn from Caroline Kennedy’s 2007 book, A Family Christmas

  

From the first selection, “We Need a Little Christmas,” Kennedy sets the tone for a bright, bouncy volume that crosses time, cultures, and even mediums such as prose, poetry, scripture, and song to explore the holiday season.  

 

Certainly, it contains the expected.  You will find the quotation from Luke, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”  There is the famous letter from Virginia O’Hanlon to the editor of the New York Sun (“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”) as well as “A Visit from Saint Nicholas” by Clement Clark Moore (perhaps best known by its opening, “’Twas the night before Christmas”

 

But you will also find a Christmas story from Lolita author Vladimir Nabokov, of all people!  Rap artists Run-D.M.C. contribute “Christmas in Hollis.”  David Sedaris’s now-famed “Six to Eight Black Men” is included.  But perhaps my favorite discovery is the new knowledge that the best way to pacify a Danish or Swedish elf is by an offering of rice pudding on Christmas Eve.  And you’d better do it, too, if you don’t want the harvest to fail.

 

Sometimes we get so caught up in the holidays that it’s easy to lose our perspective – and our sense of humor – about what Christmas means.  Reading A Family Christmas not only got me in the mood to celebrate, but it also gave me cause to laugh at the strange traditions we have invented over time.  And it reminded me of the simpler ways we celebrated Christmas in the past.  Although I know my son won’t be satisfied with a tin cup, a brown sugar cake, or an orange in his stocking, I know he will enjoy reading how Laura and Mary Ingalls celebrated the Christmas they almost didn’t get in an excerpt from Little House on the Prairie.  Hopefully that will help him understand the true meaning of Christmas. 

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