By the Shores of Silver Lake Book Review

Pioneer Woman by Harvey Dunn

Pioneer Woman by Harvey Dunn

This week my son and I finished our latest bedtime read-aloud, By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I decided this book would be my choice for the 2020 Back to the Classics Challenge category of a “Classic with Nature in the Title.”

Somehow as a child, I somehow missed reading any of the “Little House” books. As such, I have enjoyed sharing my first exploration of these stories along with my children. Wilder’s writing style is both delightfully childlike and literary at the same time, and it is easy to see why these books have become classics.

My only problem as I read this book was that I have also been reading a biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder and a history of her times, as well as the life of Rose Wilder (Prairie Fires by Caroline Fraser). It was hard for me to suspend disbelief while reading By the Shores of Silver Lake more than previous books, knowing that not all was as it seemed and that the family faced more difficulties to come than were hinted at in this work. Still, as a children’s classic, this book certainly has its place in the series, and Laura’s enduring love for the wild, open prairie shines through even today.

The Reading Report, Vol. 5: October Edition


This month has been apparently not been very good for blogging! I have been busy with other projects, like homeschooling, family fun time, knitting my son a sweater (hopefully, in time for his birthday next week!), and getting to know our new neighborhood! We have visited parks, met new friends, taken lots of nature walks and made weekly trips to our local library! The kids and I have been really enjoying lots of reading time as a result. I finished a few great books this month, and I have started a couple of new ones. Since a lot of my reading time has actually been kid-lit and picture books read aloud to my littles, I thought this month it would be appropriate to add a segment dedicated to some of our favorite children’s books we have read in the last several weeks. I won’t give much commentary on the kid’s selections, but I promise not to put anything on the list that I would not highly recommend reading with your own children!

What I’m currently reading…

Since I finished Little Women, I just had to get Little Men next! I found out about the deal on Audible to get the narration for $.99 after “buying” the free Kindle version and adding Whispersync. I have not gotten very far into the book yet, but I already can tell this is one I want my son to listen to when I am finished!

After waiting a couple of weeks, I finally got Gilead by Marilynne Robinson on hold from the library. This was the last book discussed on Close Reads, and I decided to wait to listen to the podcasts until I had finished the book. Now I get to read and listen at my own pace, which is such fun! I have heard that this book greatly loved by some and strongly disliked by others, so I am looking forward to coming to my own conclusions as I read.

I know I have mentioned reading Triggers before, so I won’t go into much right now. I had set the book aside for a while, but I joined a book club group on Facebook to read the book together, which gave me the little push I needed to pick it back up again. I have not been a good participant in the book club at all, but I have benefited from digging back in and examining my heart in regards to my parenting.

I had heard about The Explosive Child from some parents on a homeschooling forum, and I thought it would be an interesting book to peak into. I have a child who struggles with overcoming frustration and not being very flexible, although perhaps not to the extreme of the illustrations in this book. I hope to find a few nuggets of wisdom and practical strategies to help that child learn better coping skills. I will let you know what I think as I get further in!

What I have finished reading…

It took me several months, but I finally finished listening to Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. I was so accustomed to listening to this book while I was cooking dinner or cleaning the kitchen that I almost felt lonesome when it was over! I loved every minute of this book. I only wish I would have read Little Women earlier in my parenting journey. So much of Marmie’s advice and the accounts of Meg and Jo’s struggles hit close to home for me. I am so glad I didn’t miss this book!

A few people I follow online recently posted about their progress through My Antonia, which was required reading for me in high school. I tried to remember something of the story, but all I could recall was that I didn’t really like this book. Since I could not recall why, and knowing it is a piece of literature that has stood the test of time, I decided to pick it up and see what I thought of it now. Boy, am I glad I did! This was quite possibly the most beautiful book I have read all year! When I finished the last sentence, I just had to put the book (um, my phone) down and soak it all in for a few minutes. Looking back, I can only guess my dislike for the book when I read it as a teen was due to my lack of life experience and perspective. But now, as a woman, wife, mother, friend and traveller, the narrative of My Antonia was breathtaking, poignant and full of truth about life, love and loss. I read this via the Libby app (meaning I borrowed it from my library system through Overdrive), but now I am planning to buy a hard copy to have and read again and again.

Murder on the Orient Express is the newest read on the Close Reads Podcast, and one of the other “close readers” found an audio version of the book read by David Suchet on archive.org. Since this book is in high demand now that a new film version is coming out soon, I decided to enjoy this free version. I binge-listened to it over the course of a few days, and it was perfectly delightful. I have always enjoyed a good Agatha Christie mystery, and Hercule Poirot did not disappoint!

I also finished Come With Me, and since I described it in the last Reading Report, I won’t go into detail here. But I did enjoy it to the end. I found one minor factual error in one of the last few chapters pertaining to Paul’s life…but overall, I enjoyed and benefited from this book as a supplement to my daily devotions. And now, Suzanne Eller has come out with an actual devotional study book to correspond! So, if you are needing something to rejuvenate your personal time with God, I would recommend both!

Kid Lit we’ve been loving…

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: Just finished this one tonight, and my son was disappointed that it was over. (Always the sign of a great children’s novel!)
Rabbit Hill: I have read a bit of this one on my own just for fun, and my son has read the first chapter on his own. I think this will now be our bedtime read-aloud. It is all about a rabbit family, as well as their other animal neighbors, waiting for a new human family to move into the farm house and garden that has been neglected for a long time.
Mary Poppins and Mary Poppins Comes Back: We listened to Mary Poppins during our car rides over the period of a few weeks, ending with our camping trip in early October. It was a delightful listen on every level. The narrator was excellent and truly brought ever character to life. This one had me and the kids laughing every time! I was happy to find the sequel was also in our library system, so we get to listen to it next.

And that’s a wrap for this edition of the Reading Report! Next time, I hope to get this out a little earlier in the month. I am thinking since I may not have finished many more adult books by then, I will compile a list of some of our very favorite picture books. I was going to include them here, but this post was already getting quite long! Until later, happy reading!