Today I got an email from a friend. She knew about my Laura Ingalls Wilder
obsession interest and she was holiday shopping for her niece. She asked me what would be a good age for someone to start reading the Little House books.
Frankly, her question stumped me. In my case, the TV show came before the books; I didn’t even know there were books to base the show on until I read it on the TV credits when I was about nine. That Christmas, just before I turned ten, I got the first half of the series. A week later, on my birthday, I got the other half. The rest is pioneer history.
But I was rather old, wasn’t I? I know people who read them at eight and seven. My daughter, who reads more than I did as a kid (which I didn’t think was possible), finished the series just before her seventh birthday. But I wouldn’t necessarily recommend them to a six-year-old. There’s a fine line between challenging reading and reading that’s so hard it becomes boring. So I wondered: what is the ideal age?
Those of us here at Beyond Little House represent a skewed sample. We’re all a bit more interested than the average slapped bear. In the general population, if you just want to expose a child to the books, what age is the “sweet spot”? Or on the other hand — this is just occurring to me–should they get them sooner and have them read aloud?
In the end, I told my friend age 7 or 8, depending on the reading level of her niece. But I’m not a children’s literature expert, nor do I play one at a Friday night literary. Was that what you would have said?