Little Bookstore on the Prairie

I went to the bookstore this weekend. My parents are in town and we thusly sped through the rest of Little House on the Prairie at lightning speed, Laylee curled up on my Dad’s lap, face squinched in concentration.

She loves that book, the first real chapter book we’ve read together. Honestly, I’m surprised that she enjoys it so much. There are a lot of words she doesn’t understand and several portions read like a transcript of Norm Abrahm’s New Yankee Workshop… chopped down 3 large trees and hauled them up from the creek bed… raised the ax in the air… lowered the ax… drove the wedge into the log… drove the wedge further into the log… the log split… made pegs… saw Indians.

Laylee: Why are they scared of the Indians, mama?

Me: Well, many of the white people were very mean to the Indians. They hurt them and even killed them so sometimes the Indians would fight back against the white people. They thought that all white people were bad and they wanted to protect themselves. So then some of the white people got scared of the Indians because they were fighting back.

Laylee: What are “white people”?

Me: Oh. They’re people with lighter skin. We’re white people.

Laylee: Hmm… What would we say to an Indian if one came to our house?

Me: Probably “Hi.”

Laylee: I think we should say, “Please don’t hurt us because we’re nice, even though our skin is light.”

Me: Sounds like a plan.

Now really, I’m not sure how to have that discussion with a 4-year-old but thanks to Little House on the Prairie, I get to. Maybe my dad can help. He’s the one who finished the book with her. So we headed to the used bookstore to get the next book in the series, or any book in the series, or any book about woodworking, corn cakes or race relations on the American frontier, whatever they had in stock.

I told my family about the sign on the front door and that I still hadn’t decided what to say so I was just going to ignore it for the weekend. We entered the store and had a nice talk with the man behind the counter. I found Little House in the Big Woods for $2 while my mom read stories to the kids at the small table in the children’s section and my dad discussed gardening with the owner. We touched the books and breathed the musty smells.

Behind the counter was a box full of the Reproductive Responsibility signs with a note that said, “Free Bumperstickers.”

I smiled at the man and the man smiled at my kids. I turned down his offer to return the book for a dollar credit when we were done reading it because I had a feeling we would never be done reading it over and over and over again.

I plan to continue shopping there and unless he starts treating me differently when I have 3 or 4 or 8 kids, I likely won’t say anything about the stickers.

What’ll we do if the Indians come to our house? We’ll probably just say “Hi” and try to show them that we’re nice and responsible, even though we have light skin and 37 kids. Maybe we’ll all get along okay, despite our differences.

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18 Responses to Little Bookstore on the Prairie

  1. Veronica says:

    I’m with you on that one 🙂

  2. Shalee says:

    Sounds like a plan… It’s always best to be prepared, especially when you have 42 kids.

    (And it also sounds as if you’re feeling better!)

  3. Dixiechick says:

    Glad to know you are still going back to the bookstore….LittleHouse series book…I loved them as a kid..I had the whole boxed set…it is so wonderful that you are sharing the wonderful expierence of the Little House books with your daugher….

  4. Stephanie says:

    They have a box giving them out? Good thing I don’t buy books that much…

  5. denzylle says:

    I’m in England so I can’t relate to the book in the same way you do. I know the book titles and the TV show, but it’s not part of our tradition, sadly.

    But I wanted to say I liked the way you brought together the conversation with your daughter and your dilemma about the bookseller and his stickers.

    I’m with you there. My own part of that analogy is that I’m anti organised religion (altho’ I’m a believer) but I’ll continue to enjoy your blog (and a number of others’ where religion plays a large part in their family lives_ just so long as it remains mostly implicit and I don’t feel it’s being forced into me.

    I hope that doesn’t offend; I certainly don’t intend it to.

  6. kris says:

    Having had similar conversations myself with my kids, you did well. Sounds like a plan. Oh how I want to take my three kids into that cute little bookstore, or perhaps some of my friends and family and their massive broods.

  7. Janssen says:

    What a GREAT post. I LOVED the Little House books – my mom read all of them to me when I was about five. In fact, she spent so much time reading them to me, that she lost her voice completely and had to stop reading aloud (or singing) for about a year.

  8. Okay, posts like this one is why I am an avowed life-long reader of your blog.

  9. YOU HAVE A STORE?! (Yes, I am yelling). Where have I been? I am so getting the mug for work!

  10. Amanda says:

    Yeah, you’re doing the right thing. I mean, aren’t differences in opinion what make the world go ’round? Think of the flipside of “reproductive responsibility”; maybe this store-owner’s point is that many people simply are NOT responisble about it, you think?

  11. Jeana says:

    So is this a good time to tell you that LHIT Big Woods was actually the first book in that series?

    Glad to hear you’re feeling better. 🙂

  12. I certainly hope he *won’t* treat you any differently. But I admire your restraint, because I would have had a really hard time not saying anything!

  13. Heather R says:

    I have some book referals: Sarah Plain and Tall (I love this movie too). The Box Car Children. There were some more but they flew right out of my mind…More later.

  14. Carrie says:

    I can’t wait to read those books with Katie! Also, the Betsy, Tacy and Tibb series was also a favorite of mine as a young girl, maybe the store has them?

  15. Lisa P says:

    Instead of wondering, why not just ask the owner his views on the matter? It doesn’t mean that you have to get into an argument, but it might make for an interesting discussion. I have 3 children who are close in age and I had to deal with several negative comments when they were very young (1,2 &3) ie:”What were you thinking?” etc.

  16. So maybe they aren’t really against big families. Maybe they just found a box of bumperstickers in the street and didn’t want to fill up the landfill with them so they’re using them and handing them out. Why don’t you take a big handful and use them as packing tape?

  17. Azúcar says:

    You’re completely responsible, you still feed and occasionally bathe them, right?

    Did you ever talk to the owner about it or did you let it go?

  18. KYouell says:

    “What are ‘white people’?”

    I hope I raise children that ask that! I think it shows not just a color-blindness of the young, but a color-blindness in her raising. And I think that’s lovely.

    I’m still waiting for people to ask if my daughter is adopted because, next to my achromatic self (especially if my equally achromatic son is with us), she looks olive-skinned at the very least.

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