betsy-tacy

June 22, 2015

It's summer, my lovelies! And I have a summery tableau of books for you today. THE BETSY-TACY books. I've been waiting for years to discuss these books with you. I've waited years for Julia to be into reading them. She read the first book, 'Betsy-Tacy', in the 1st grade, and she wasn't quite ready to embark upon the series yet. Don't be fooled by these quaint looking, relatively slight books - they require a certain maturity level to enjoy, I think - and I would say the perfect age to start with them would be the 3rd grade.

Now why is that? Why shouldn't a kindergarten kid read these? Because basically all these books are about are two little girls who are best friends, living in a small town in the early 1900's. Well I have to digress and get on my soap box for just a minute. Amazon lists the age ranges for these books to be between 8 and 12 and I totally agree.

I THINK A LOT OF KIDS ARE READING BOOKS THAT ARE TOO OLD FOR THEM, AT TOO YOUNG OF AN AGE. Shouting over. And.......I'm just not sure why. There's a ton of material out there that's age appropriate! I don't think 8 year olds should be reading YA fiction, or middle grade books, I just don't.

But let's leave that conversation for another day, because really, it frustrates the heck out of me. Let's just talk about what's amazing and great about the 'Betsy-Tacy' books!

Maud Hart Lovelace, the author, wrote a series about a girl named Betsy, but really, she was writing about a girl named Maud - the entire series is entirely autobiographical, with just a few tweaks here and there. The series starts with Betsy at the age of 5 or 6, and follows her until she gets married - not unlike the age progression of Laura in the 'Little House on the Prairie' books. Last year, I re-read all of the Betsy books that covered her teen years and marriage, and loved them even more as an adult than I had as a teen. In some of the later books, Maud actually used letters written to her from her sister, and quoted from them verbatim in her stories. All of the best friend characters in the books were based on Maud's real life friendships.

In the stories that cover Betsy's earlier childhood years, 'Betsy-Tacy and Tib' and 'Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill' and 'Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown' - she and her friends spend their time putting on plays, writing stories, making secret societies, sparring with their older sisters, developing first crushes and living life in their small town at the turn of the 20th century. If you or your kiddo is a fan of 'Anne of Green Gables' or 'Little House on the Prairie', you'll love these books, if you aren't already intimately acquainted with them.

There's outgoing and talkative Betsy, shy, dreamy Tacy, and the forthright and down-to-earth Tib - who all meet as young girls and remain best friends their entire lives. I was obsessed with these girls when I was a little girl, and I'm still obsessed!

The books about Betsy's early years are illustrated by the magical Lois Lenski, and they possess so much old fashioned sweetness. Julia is now on Book 3, and after she read Book 2, she was like, "wow Mama, these books are really good!" in a surprised tone. I think she was too young to appreciate the first book when she read it in the 1st grade, and since she's more into dragons and fantasy-type fare, this series was not the automatic no-brainer choice for her that they were for me - I had to get the books and plop them down in front of her and say "HERE YOU GO. READ."

Happily she did, and now she's old enough to enjoy them and appreciate their vintage charm. She's had enough history at school now to be able to wrap her head around the history of the books. The whole series is lighthearted and fun - Betsy lives a happy life filled with games and parties and builds sweet and lasting friendships - after reading a 'Betsy-Tacy' book, you'll feel like someone wrapped you up in a cozy blanket and handed you an oatmeal cookie. If you or your kiddo haven't read these books yet - GO GO GO!




8 comments:

  1. This is awesome. And thank you for the age range because I still have Lulu reading storybooks w big pictures & illustrations and now that she's going to learn to read for herself I have no idea what to give her!

    Happy summer to you!

    A.

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    1. I think picture books are awesome for as long as you can do them!! she's turning 5 right? do you guys already have the 'Frog & Toad' series? 'Madeline'? Julia loved all the 'Charlie & Lola' books when she was 4. After Kindergarten, when J began to read on her own, it was JUNIE B. all the way! Those books got her jazzed about reading on her own!

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  2. We listened to the first book on audio, then never got far with the second. I got Big Sis a several-books-in-one collection for Christmas. It's one of a never-ending stack of Things We Must Read. There's never enough time for everything, darn it.

    Confession time: I never read these growing up. Around here, because of her connection to Kansas (not that she was aware of it!), it was very much Laura Ingalls Wilder, all the time. By the time I was in 6th grade, the Anne of Green Gables miniseries had come out, so I moved on to those. I honestly didn't know about Betsy-Tacy until I started working at B&N right after college!

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    1. ok so for YOU my darling - just go straight to the teen book yrs and you will have yourself a GRAND TIME!

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  3. I TOTALLY agree with you on the "reading books that are too old for them" thing. That being said, I have to make a confession. I read the first 2 or 3 Betsy-Ta cy books out loud to my kids last year, when my oldest boy was 8, and they liked them a lot. This year my almost 7-year-old girl brought the first one home from the library and loved reading it herself. I think some books are good enough to capture the attention of a young reader with just the basic story and then draw them back in again a few years later when they actually appreciate the book even more.

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    1. YES. right there with ya - i think someone's 7 is another one's 8 is another one's 9! i was kinda splitting hairs there. I'm jealous that you guys did it as a read aloud!! I totally would have, but we've been stuck in an endless Little House on the Prairie bender since last fall.....(i'm going to be excited to read something else soon!)

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  4. TOTALLY agree. I might even get one of these for my boys(me)!

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    1. YES! and silly silly me for assuming that boys would not touch this - my own daughter wouldn't have touched these if I hadn't basically thrown them at her head! Everyone should (would) enjoy these! Betsy-Tacy for all!!!

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