The story centers on a house built at the top of a small hill, far out in the country in 1900 America. Her builder decrees that she “may never be sold for gold or silver” but is built sturdy enough to one day see his great-great-grandchildren’s great-great-grandchildren living in her. The house watches the seasons pass, and wonders about the lights of the city, which grow ever closer in the year 1915. Eventually, a road is built in front of the house. This is followed by roadside stands, gas stations, and more little houses. Next, the small houses are replaced by tenements and apartments in the year 1925.
“The Little House” by Virginia Lee Burton
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 shall never be sold for gold or silver and she will live to see our great-great-grandchildren’s great-great-grandchildren living in her.”
The Little House was very happy as she sat on the hill and watched the countryside around her. She watched the sun rise in the morning and she watched the sun set in the evening. Day followed day, each one a little different from the one before… but the Little House stayed just the same.
In the nights she watched the moon grow from a thin new moon to a full moon, then back again to a thin old moon, and when there was no moon she watched the stars. Way off in the distance she could see the lights of the city. The Little House was curious about the city and wondered what it would be like to live there.
Time passed quickly for the Little House as she watched the countryside slowly change with the seasons. In the Spring, when the days grew longer and the sun warmer, she waited for the first robin to return from the South. She watched the grass turn green. She watched the buds of the trees swell and the apple trees burst into blossom. She watched the children playing in the brook.
In the long Summer days she sat in the sun and watched the trees cover themselves with leaves and the white daisies cover the hill. She watched the gardens grow, and she watched the apples turn red and ripen. She watched the children swimming in the pool.
In the Fall, when the days grew shorter and the nights colder, she watched the first frost turn the leaves to bright yellow and orange and red. She watched the harvest gathered and the apples picked. She watched the children going back to school.
In the winter, when the nights were long and the days short, and the countryside covered with snow, she watched the children coasting and skating. Year followed year… The apple trees grew old and new ones were planted. The children grew up and went away to the city…and now at night, the lights of the city seemed brighter and closer.
One day the Little House was surprised to see a horseless carriage coming down the winding country road… Pretty soon there were more of them on the road and fewer carriages pulled by horses. Pretty soon along came some surveyors and surveyed a line in front of the Little House. Pretty soon along came a steam shovel and dug a road through the hill covered with daisies… Then some trucks came and dumped big stones on the road, then some trucks with little stones, then some trucks with tar and sand, and finally a steam roller came and rolled it all smooth, and the road was done.
Now the Little House watched the trucks and automobiles going back and forth to the city. Gasoline stations…roadside stands…and small houses followed the new road. Everyone and everything moved much faster now than before.
More roads were made, and the countryside was divided into lots. More houses and bigger houses…apartment houses and tenement houses…schools…stores…and garages spread over the land and crowded around the Little House. No one wanted to live in her and take care of her anymore. She couldn’t be sold for gold or silver, so she just stayed there and watched.
Now it was not so quiet and peaceful at night. Now the lights of the city were bright and very close, and the street lights shone all night. “This must be living in the city,” thought the Little House, and didn’t know whether she liked it or not. She missed the fields of daisies and the apple trees dancing in the moonlight.
Pretty soon there were trolley cars going back and forth in front of the Little House. They went back and forth all day and part of the night. Everyone seemed to be very busy and everyone seemed to be in a hurry.
Pretty soon there was an elevated train going back and forth above the Little House. She couldn’t see it, but she could feel and hear it. People were moving faster and faster. No one noticed the Little House anymore. They hurried by without a glance.
Pretty soon they tore down the apartment houses and tenement houses around the Little House and started digging big cellars…one on each side. The steam shovels dug down three stories on one side and four stories on the other side. Pretty soon they started building up… They built up twenty-five stores on one side and thirty-five stories on the other.
Now the Little House only saw the sun at noon and didn’t see the moon or stars at night at all because the lights of the city were too bright. She didn’t like living in the city. At night she used to dream of the country and the field of daisies and the apple trees dancing in the moonlight. The Little House was very sad and lonely. Her paint was cracked and dirty… Her windows were broken and her shutters hung crookedly. She looked shabby…though she was just as good a house as ever underneath.
Then one fine morning in Spring along came the great-great-granddaughter of the man who built the Little House so well. She saw the shabby Little House, but she didn’t hurry by. There was something about the Little House that made her stop and look again. She said to her husband, “That Little House looks just like the Little House my grandmother lived in when she was a little girl, only that Little House was way out in the country on a hill covered with daisies and apple trees growing around.”
They found out it was the very same house, so they went to the Movers to see if the Little House could be moved. The Movers looked at the Little House all over and said, “Sure, this house is as good as ever. She’s built so well we could move her anywhere.” So they jacked up the Little House and put her on wheels. Traffic was held up for hours as they slowly moved her out of the city.
The windows and shutters were fixed and once again they painted her a lovely shade of pink. As the Little House settled down on her new foundation, she smiled happily. Once again she could watch the sun and moon and stars. Once again she could watch Spring and Summer and Fall and Winter come and go. Once again she was lived in and taken care of.
Never again would she be curious about the city… Never again would she want to live there… The stars twinkled above her… A new moon was coming up… It was Spring…and all was quiet and peaceful in the country.
“The Little House” Book Read Aloud YouTube Video
So what conversation will you have with your child after reading this book?
Some questions you might like to ask are:
In The Long summer day, she sat in where?
She sat in the sun and watched the trees.
In winter how was the day and nights?
Nights were long and day small.
How Little house was surprised?
Little House was surprised to see a horseless carriage coming down the winding country road
What other conversations or questions might you add? Please leave a comment below.
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