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The Long Winter

The Long Winter
by Laura Ingalls Wilder

I got in my car this morning to find a little frost and a ton of leaves on the windshield.  I wasn't in a rush, so I decided to let the defroster handle the ice.  As I sat in the car, listening to NPR's Morning Edition, a story about the super storm Sandy began to play.  Waiting for my frost to melt, I couldn't help worrying about all of those families, struggling with no heat as winter continues its slow march toward us all.

Now, I live in the south, so we will have many more days of no frost before we settle into winter for good.  Our winters tease us, and, quite truthfully, rarely cause a big fuss.  But for the Ingalls family in South Dakota, the teasing blizzards quickly turned into the long winter that is described in this book from Laura Ingalls Wilder.

This enduring collection of novels has allowed many children to understand America's Westward expansion.  Laura makes the life seem romantic.   She reminds us of a time long past, while giving us clues about the social realities of the time.   This novel is particularly poignant in that it speaks to the isolation found in the newly-forming communities of the West.  I also like this book for children because it gives their imaginations a chance to work.  This novel is not set in the town of Walnut Grove, which is described in detail in the television show.  Often, children will give this book a chance because they believe it to be a new look at Laura's life.  I just reread it myself with a class of adults, and its lessons about interpersonal relationships made for a lively discussion.  I recommend this classic novel to anyone who is interested in the growth of America, child or adult.

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