Four Books My Daughter and I Just Finished

My seven-year-old daughter and I have recently finished reading four books.  Somehow we ended up reading all of them at the same time.  We started reading a chapter of each one every night, making bedtime extra long and completely enjoyable.  Here are the four books.

On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder

This is the third installment of the Little House on the Prairie Series, not counting Farmer Boy, which is technically the second book to be published but not a continuation of the same story.  I wanted to reread this one with my daughter because I remember it vividly from my own childhood.  I spent each night with it propped on my stomach in bed, imagining that I too ran barefoot along the banks of the little creek and lived in a dugout house.  It all seemed so exciting.

My daughter Olivia enjoyed the book too.  There were a few heartwarming moments, such as the Christmas celebration at the church where Laura sees a Christmas tree for the first time and receives a little fur cape and muff, equal to Nellie’s.  I shed a few tears during this scene. Olivia didn’t quite understand why I was sobbing quietly weeping, but she did find satisfaction in Laura’s having finally showed Nellie up.  The book has its harrowing moments too, such as when the grasshoppers come and eat all of their wheat.  This actually happened in the American Midwest, and Mrs. Wilder lived through it as a child.  Her account is from a child’s perspective but still as frightfully real and terrible as it would be from an adult’s perspective, maybe even more so.

I highly recommend any book in the Little House on the Prairie series.  We are now onto Farmer Boy, as Olivia has decided that she needs a break from Mary, Laura, Pa, and Ma.  I agree.  She has taken to calling Mike “Pa” and me “Ma.”

We are beginning to sound as fanatical about the Ingalls family as Wendy McClure, the author of The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie.  This is a delightful, although somewhat embarrassing, account of a grown woman’s attempts to reread, remake, and revisit everything Little House on the Prairie.  Since reading it and the Little House books, I have resolved to visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home and Museum in Mansfield, Missouri, the next time I visit my dad, who lives in Missouri.

The Talented Clementine by Sara Pennypacker

The second book we recently finished is The Talented Clementine by Sara Pennypacker.  This is the second book in the series, and both are fun and quick reads.  They follow Clementine’s antics, which remind me an awful lot of my favorite children’s book character Ramona Quimby created by the beloved Beverly Cleary.  The Clementine books are shorter, usually involve a problem that this tom-boy must solve, and have laugh-out-loud moments of insanity.  Olivia adores Clementine, but keeps forgetting that she is actually a girl.  And the most entertaining part, to me at least, is Clementine’s inability to call her brother by his proper name.  In fact, I don’t know what his real name is.  She calls him Broccoli, String Bean, and Turnip.  She justifies this because her name is a fruit name; therefore, her brother should suffer like her and have a vegetable name.  The other great part is Clementine’s foil, Margaret.  She’s the prissy, perfect, know-it-all girl who is slightly older than Clementine and often is the source of Clementine’s dilemmas.

My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett

The third book we read is My Father’s Dragon.  This is an old classic by Ruth Stiles Gannett. The story is simple and sweet, but adventuresome and exciting.  The narrator tells the story about her father’s quest to save a baby dragon chained to Wild Island by the ferocious animals there.  The father, as a little boy, must pass through many obstacles and wild-animal encounters before he can save the dragon.  He defeats each animal not with violence, but with smarts.  Olivia is rereading this one on her own because she liked it so much.

Betsy-Tacy by Maude Hart Lovelace

The fourth book we read was Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace.  This is a sweet telling of two girls, Betsy and Tacy, who become best friends and play imaginative games around their neighborhood.  The publication date is 1940, and the book gives a nice glimpse into the past, similar to the Little House on the Prairie books.  Also similar is the fact that the author’s childhood home is now a museum in Mankato, Minnesota.

However, the book is really written for younger children than the Laura audience.  Betsy and Tacy and five and have bossy older sisters who are seven.  The two help each other through difficulties, such as the death of Tacy’s baby sister and fears on the first day of school, but they also make a new friend by the end of the book through their adventuresome play.  It’s a heartwarming book and the first in a series, so we may need to find out what else Mrs. Lovelace has written.  I know there are societies in her memory and that she based the books off of her own childhood experiences, something I am always a sucker for since sitting at my grandmother’s knee and finding her own childhood escapades to be captivating.

What do you read with your children?

20 thoughts on “Four Books My Daughter and I Just Finished

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  1. Emily,
    Thanks for these titles, I am going to save them all to a list for my girls’ reading. We have read My Father’s Dragon, but it does bear rereading. And I had forgotten about Little House (I shouldn’t admit that I myself never did read them as a child, I’d love to read them with my daughters).
    I would love to see more of your suggestions for young readers!

    1. You will love Little House just as much as they will! So fun. I’ll try to think up some more as we go along. I bet you have some good suggestions of your own for me.

  2. My son & I like to get two copies of a book from the library and have a reading race. It’s so much fun. Books like Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys are good because they’re a quick read.

    1. What a great idea! I am totally doing that. Also, do you like Nancy Drew now? I remember loving it as a child, but I tried to pick one up a few years ago when I was feeling nostalgic and I couldn’t get over how poorly written they really are. Perfect for kids, but I can’t stand them now…

  3. I love all of those. I am so glad you added ‘My Father’s Dragon’ It is one of the book I always recommend for 2nd graders and so few people have ever heard of it. There are 2 more in the series also.

  4. Thank you so much for this post. Any time you want to talk about kid’s books I’m going to love it. 🙂

  5. Emily… loved your post….. I’m reading an old favourite of mine – Enid Blyton’s Magic Faraway Tree, to my 6 yr old grand daughter, and we’re having a great time! I have a list of books I want to read and read with her, and I’m going to add”My Father’s Dragon” to it.

  6. I have just ordered some used books online to read to my almost-4 year old great-granddaughter because my copies that I read with my sons are long gone. Two of them are by A.A. Milne, but are more about Christopher Robin than Winnie the Pooh. And in the same class, in my opinion, perhaps on a higher shelf, is A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson. I hope she likes them as much as I do!

  7. I have sons who have loved the Toys Go Out series by Emily Jenkins when they were about 6 and 7, and nieces whom I’ve bought one book in particular that I believe every girl should read: The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes.

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