The Little House (Summer Reading List)

Every summer my mother would pull out a shoe-box filled with index cards. Each card contained a book title and the name of its author – like a mini card catalog for children’s books. It may have been categorized by age and reading level as well, although I don’t quite recall all the details. Mostly I remember being toted to the public library, where my two sisters and I would look up a book title on the card, find our selections, and take them home.

This all took place, mind you, before free homeschooling blogs offered you summer reading lists and before pinterest offered you cute ways to decorate and organize a reading corner in your home. My mother’s ingenuity and organization amazes me still today, although I’m far more grateful for her insistence that my sisters and I read well-written classics that are, sadly, quickly being eclipsed on library bookshelves by the likes of Elmo and Dora the Explorer.

So, I’ve decided to give you a peek into our summer reading list and share some of our favorite children’s classics written and illustrated by master storytellers and visual craftsmen — albeit sans shoe box.

From the shoe box, I was introduced to numerous books by Virginia Lee Burton (one of the greatest children’s book authors of the 20th century), of which my favorite was The Little House.

I loved this book just as much for its hallmark story (a happy country house, feeling the pinch of urbanization, discovers ‘progress’ doesn’t always yield pleasure) as its lovely hand-painted illustrations.

So, when we bought our new white farmhouse tucked away in the hills of western Pennsylvania, I knew this book would be a must-read for the boys this summer. And they gobbled it up just like I did.

They poured over the details of moving trains and cars, high rise scaffolding, and the exquisite renderings of the seasons. To my joy, they even commiserated with the Little House when the big city moved on top of her apple orchards and rolling fields covered with daisies

Because even at the age of three, the twins are capable of grasping what my mother already knew so well as an adult – books can convey powerful messages through both words and artistry. And to be well-read means more than simply owning lots of books. It starts when mothers introduce children to good stories that help them find meaning in their own.

“Once upon a time there was a Little House way out in the country. She was a pretty Little House and she was strong and well built. The man who built her so well said, ‘This Little House …will live to see our great-great-grandchildren’s great-great-grandchildren living in her.”

Virginia Lee Burton

About melissa deming

Melissa Deming is a freelance writer transplanted from Texas to Pennsylvania with her husband of ten years, Jonathan, and two-year-old identical twins, Zacharias and Jonah. The family serves at a Southern Baptist church plant in Pittsburgh - Living Faith Community Church. Melissa is a regular correspondent for The Southern Baptist TEXAN newspaper and Crossroads magazine of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. She is also the creator and author of - a site designed to sweeten a woman's walk with Christ through devotional articles, book reviews, and giveaways. Melissa holds a Masters of Divinity in Women’s Studies from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, NC, and a B.A. in Journalism from Texas A&M University.