I often surprise students with this fact: When I was in elementary school I did not love to read. I had (and still have) terrible eye-sight and got headaches and frustration when reading. I loved listening to books, and I feel strongly that I developed my love of reading by being read to. Listening to my mom, my teachers, and even my friends read aloud was one of my favorite things. But reading books all by myself? Nope.
It wasn't until middle school that I started to really get excited about reading. I attribute that to a friend who introduced me to the fantasy genre. But I think that because I was not an avid reader as a kid, I missed out on a lot of "favorite series" that adults my age grew up with. For example, the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. When my book club decided they were going to "re-read" these books for nostalgia's sake I jumped aboard, embarrassingly admitting that I was reading them for the first time. Now I am thrilled to be half-way through this series so that I can finally talk to my students about it and truly know what it is like. Now whenever I am asked to recommend a historical fiction series I know just where to go... but I do give kids this warning:
My impression of the series so far - the first book was boring. I just wasn't wild(er) about it (sorry). This is a big deal-breaker for kids. If the first book in the series can't hold my interest, why should I keep reading? Well, the second book got a little better, and the third (which isn't about Laura's family at all but about her future husband, Almanzo) is better still, but it wasn't until I read On the Banks of Plum Creek that I got really into this series. Oh man! That book is full of action. So many crazy things happen to Laura and her family while living in the dugout on Plum Creek. I have read two more books in the series, but this one is still my favorite. So if you started Little House in the Big Woods and abandoned it because it wasn't holding your interest... try Plum Creek. Just give it a go. You won't be sorry.