Henry Huggins – by Beverly Cleary (1950)

Walk into any library or bookstore these days, and you will find plenty of books that elementary-age boys will love. But back in the late 1940’s, when Beverly Cleary was a librarian, the pickings were slim. Children’s books tended to feature British boys living in palaces, living a totally different lifestyle than the average boy. Where were the books that were down-to-earth with characters who were realistic? Almost nowhere.

So Beverly Cleary decided to remedy that. She first tried to come up with a story about a little girl, but it just wasn’t turning out right. Then she switched to writing about a boy, using her interactions with elementary-age boys as a base for the character of Henry Huggins. Young Henry was every boy. He went to school, thought about ways to spend his allowance, and really wanted a pet.

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On The Banks Of Plum Creek – by Laura Ingalls Wilder (1937)

When most people hear the name Laura Ingalls Wilder, they think of the television show “Little House On The Prairie”, which ran from 1974 to 1983. While it was a clean family show for all ages, it offered a rather idealized version of what life was like back in the 1800s. A much more accurate description is offered in the author’s books. Although all of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books are technically classified as biographical fiction, the events in the books did indeed happen.

This book covers 1874-1876, the years that Laura’s family lived outside the town of Walnut Creek, Minnesota. Her father bought land along Plum Creek from a Norwegian man named Mr. Hanson, who wanted to move farther west. It seemed like the perfect place to Pa Ingalls. The prairie soil was rich, and there were no trees that needed to be removed before planting wheat. It was within walking distance of town, so Laura and her older sister Mary could attend school for the first time.

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