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Claiming Our Own Adventure on the Little Homestead on the Prairie

Five of the Little House books, By the Shores of Silver Lake, The Long Winter, Little Town on the Prairie, These Happy Golden Years and The First Four Years, take place in De Smet, Dakota Territory (later South Dakota). We planned a few days here to get at least a taste of prairie life past and present and to savor the place where so many of Laura’s stories happened.

There’s No Little House, But We Dig Plum Creek

Even though we spent a good bit of time at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum, we still had a long sunny afternoon to enjoy in Walnut Grove. Since we’d sampled the Walnut Grove Bar & Grill for dinner and were not in any kind of hurry to go back, we thought we’d give the other restaurant in town — Nellie’s Café — a try. But it was closed. We decided to make do with what we had in the ice chest and enjoy a picnic lunch along the banks of Plum Creek.

It's epic! New way to access great kids’ books

Nothing creates readers like a good book. And in my experience good books are often recommended to children by a trusted teacher or librarian.

But educators are busy people. A lot of teachers and school librarians I know have a hard time keeping up with what’s new and what’s good in books for children. Then there’s the entire matter of getting one’s hands on the books. Libraries certainly have a role, but there are limitations to physical resources.

Celebrate with books

It's earlier than it's been in the past and the location has changed from the National Mall to the Washington Convention Center but once again, it's back. If past is prelude, then it will be just as much fun (with the benefit of indoor plumbing and air-conditioning against the dreaded DC humidity).

I'm talking about the National Book Festival, of course.

2014 National Book Festival

Little House in the Formerly Big Woods

When readers first meet Laura in Little House in the Big Woods, she’s a little girl living with her Pa, Ma, older sister Mary and baby sister Carrie. The real Laura Ingalls was born in a little house deep in the forests surrounding Pepin, Wisconsin, on February 7, 1867. Since Pepin is Laura’s birthplace and the setting of her first book, this village along the Mississippi River seemed like the place to visit first.

Little Journey on the Prairie: We're Off!

Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote one of the most beloved series in children's literature. Her "Little House" books, which recount her childhood during the late 1800s, have provided generations of readers with a look at what life was like for our pioneering ancestors.

If you've always wanted a closer look at the Big Woods, wondered what it would be like to play along the banks of Plum Creek or dreamed of wandering the shores of Silver Lake, you're not alone. My mother and I have talked about walking in Laura's footsteps ever since I first read the books as a child.

Loss of a friend

Walter Dean Myers

I've been away for a while. The family vacation was without Internet access or even phone service. When I was reconnected, I was deeply saddened by news that one of the true giants of contemporary children's and young adult literature had died.

Making a list? Check these twice!

If you're like me, you're scurrying around looking for the perfect gift for a child in your life. Below are some helpful gift suggestion lists I've come across. Maybe you'll find just what you were looking for!

A treasure trove of resources from Jen Robinson's Growing Bookworms Newsletter. Be sure to look through the links she shared on Twitter. Lots and lots of book suggestions!

Board books: Three a day keeps the reading specialist away

That's essentially what I write in every card as I hand over a stack of board books to expectant mom friends: "Three a day keeps the reading specialist away." After a chuckle and a roll of the eyes, my Mom-to-be friends add our tried and true board book titles to the pile of baby gifts and toys. But I'm happy, knowing that those board books will be loved and chewed on for years to come.

Why field trips are worth the effort

Taking a group of children for an outing can be rough — perhaps more so for adults than for the young people. After all, it's up to parents and teachers to keep track of their charges, worry about transportation, safety, snacks, and more. So why bother?

Because field trips make a difference. There's research that supports field trips to art museums, aka "culturally enriching" activities, has a significant and positive impact on students. In my experience, almost all family or class outings can make a positive impact.

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"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." — Emilie Buchwald