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Madam President

Addie explores the idea of becoming President. With a visit to the Lincoln Memorial, and a candid “what if I were President” interview with her mom, we get to see the world through the eyes of a five and half year old.

About a month ago, Addie came home from school, and said to me, “Mom, you can become President.”

“OK, why is that?”

“Because you have to be 35 to be President. And you’re 35!” (In all honesty, I’m 35+2, but why ruin a perfectly good moment by pointing out a harmless error).

Laura’s Little Schools

On the Little Journey, both Avery and Janet had a special interest in schools where Laura studied or taught since Avery has always loved to play school and Janet has taught students at all levels — from early elementary to graduate school. Janet writes below about the striking differences and not so surprising similarities we found between the schoolhouses in De Smet and those of today.

The end of a month

I read a statement on a publisher’s blog that resonated with me: “Black History is American History.” (The publisher is Lee & Low, a press known for publishing diverse books.)

I’ve written about this before and still believe that the sooner we get rid of hyphenated Americans, the better off we’ll be, able to have fuller discussions and let readers of all ages revel in the diversity that is us. 

Exploring History and Story in the Little Town on the Prairie

Laura Ingalls was born on February 7, 1867 outside of Pepin, Wisconsin. We started our Little Journey there and have visited other places Laura lived, but we’d not yet set foot in an actual building inhabited by the Ingalls.

Our last day in De Smet, South Dakota, we made our way to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Homes to change that.

Our Interview with Writer Elizabeth Rusch

At a recent conference, I had the chance to meet Elizabeth Rusch, the author of several of “Scientists in the Field” series (a consistently excellent series) — and discovered that I knew many of her other books. They range from picture books to narrative nonfiction with lots in between. I was intrigued and wanted to ask her more questions than time allowed.

So Liz Rusch agreed to an interview. Not surprisingly, she takes her work very seriously. What shines through with all of her well researched work is a respect for the subjects — and for readers.

All I Want for Christmas Is Content Reading

Q: We are preparing for a PD session and want participants (who are a mix of K-12 teachers, coaches and administrators across the state) to begin to think about disciplinary literacy. To be transparent, this focus is in part a reaction to hearing that some of our schools are cutting social studies and science to make room for CCSS ELA/Literacy blocks in K-5 … we want to strongly discourage these kind of decisions to the extent we can, and PDs such as this one are an opportunity to do so.

Arts impact all year

When our son was young, a special holiday treat was an outing to see a live performance. Theater, dance, symphony — we tried it all. And during his time off from school, we’d visit art museums all over town. It certainly had an impact on our son but far too many children don’t have easy access to the arts or arts programs for any number of reasons.

So let’s integrate the arts into a child’s daily life, and where better to start — with potentially profound outcomes — than in schools.

Disciplinary Literacy: What About Music and Other Subjects?

Q: I’m a music education professor and music literacy is an area of research for me. I am intrigued by your work on disciplinary literacy and my colleague and I are interested in determining how disciplinary literacy could be applied to music. I’ve searched, but have found no research in this regard. Do you know of any? Also, I would love to hear your opinions regarding directions we could take as we look into this subject further. As of now, we see a need to look at music notation literacy as well as the literacy associated with writing about music.

Shopping for Little House Keepsakes and Gifts

After our trip to the Ingalls’ Homestead, we headed back to the little town on the prairie. With time for a leisurely stroll down Main Street in De Smet, we decided we had to stop in Loftus General Store — where during the Long Winter, Laura and Carrie bought suspenders for Pa for Christmas and the wheat procured for starving De Smet citizens by Almanzo Wilder and Cap Garland was sold.

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.


"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." — Groucho Marx