A few days ago, I told my seven year old that we would be skipping school to do a day of chores. “Yes!” she exclaimed. “I can help you like Laura and Ma!” She then proceeded to don her fanciest dress-up dress and a gingham apron.
Yes, we’ve been reading Little House on the Prairie this year. What else could inspire such enthusiasm for chores? As great historical novels can help develop a love for history, so can great literature encourage a heart for homemaking in your daughters.
In a great deal of the media our children are exposed to today, women are not keepers of their homes, and in many cases, they seem to despise and even mock the role of moms in the home. By sharing stories of women and girls who joyfully go about the tasks of keeping a home, you can encourage your daughter in the arts and character needed to make a home.
Preschool and Early Elementary
A Little Girl after God’s Own Heart by Elizabeth George. We have read book several times in our home. There is a poem and beautiful illustration for each of the fruits of the Spirit.
When I’m a Mommy by Ginger Fulton. Another favorite, this book highlights each of the virtues listed in Proverbs 31.
Little Mommy by Sharon Kane. This story follows a little girl for the day as she takes care of her dolls.
Little Red Hen, folktale. Will your kids be the helpers or will they say “Not I?”
God’s Wisdom for Little Girls, by Elizabeth George. This is another classic to teach the virtues found in Proverbs 31.
The Princess and the Three Knights by Karen Kingsbury. This fairy tale teaches purity for younger readers.
Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney. This warm classic teaches perseverance and joy.
Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Character lessons and good-old fashioned chores abound in these acclaimed stories of Laura’s life. There are also accompanying cookbook, sewing books, and craft books to enhance your studies.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Home arts are enjoyed, along with lessons in loving your siblings, righteousness, and generosity.
Elsie Dinsmore series by Martha Finley. Elsie, a girl in the 1800’s, demonstrates patience and devotion to God.
Everyday Graces by Karen Santorum. This collection of poems and excerpts of stories covers manners, character, selflessness, and more. We have not only learned many lessons from this book, but also we’ve found many stories and poems to add to our book lists.
The Moody Family series by Sarah Maxwell. This collection of stories follows the adventures of a homeschool family. The publisher says about the books, “Many moms have shared how their children have become more helpful, polite, obedient, kind, and loving after reading about the Moodys.”
The Princess and the Kiss by Jennie Bishop. This sweet tale tells the story of a princess who saves her first kiss for her husband.
Middle and High School
Pride and Prejudice and other Jane Austen Novels. In the midst of the witty remarks and search for true love, or at least a good marriage, women are learning and practicing home arts, hospitality, gardening, and duty to one’s family.
Beautiful Girlhood by Mable Hale. While this is not a novel, encourages girls in several areas of the Proverbs 31 woman.
Love Comes Softly series by Janette Oke. These Christian, historical novels value raising families and detail the hardships of surviving life on the frontier. Though romantic in nature, the gospel message is present in each.
The Book of Ruth, in the Bible. Ruth’s devotion to God and her mother-in-law is inspiring for all ages.
Finding Homemaking Project Ideas in Books
If you don’t have a formal homemaking curriculum, let your projects be inspired by the books you read. In each book listed above, there is a potential homemaking project that could be done.
Sample Project Ideas
If you are reading The Little Red Hen to your preschooler, you can make bread the next day.
Reading Little House? Start a garden, sew a quilt patch, or have a chorin’ day with Ma.
When you come across the chapter in Little Women where the girls bring a basket of food to needy neighbors, make your own basket.
If your high schooler is reading Pride and Prejudice, start an embroidery project together.
Attempt to recreate a meal from one of the stories you’re reading, and share your favorite quotes from the book at dinner.
Real Life Stories, Too
You might be blessed by a nearby community of like-minded friends and family, or you might be the only one you know who stays home with her kids. Either way, it’s a gift to be able to expose our daughters to role models in the past and present.
Though I love using literature to teach home values to my girls, I realized that I have some homemaking heroes right here in my own family. While many stories are passed down organically through conversations over the years, interviewing a hero or two on their own could be special.
In addition to sparking interest and excitement about the timeless art of raising a family, you’ll bless an older family member with this special time and strengthen family relationships.
Here are some tips for your daughter to do her own interview.
1. Find Your Subject. If you don’t have a homemaking grandma, great-aunt in your family, perhaps a church member or grandparent of a close friend can help.
2. List of Questions. It is helpful to write a list of possible questions, but remember that your subject may go off on a rabbit trail. Don’t worry; sometimes this is where the most interesting information is gleaned.
3. Gather Supplies. A pad of paper and a couple pens are needed, of course. Will you record the conversation, or even video it? Be sure to find out what your subject may or may not be comfortable with.
4. Make a Special Memory. Why not go a step further and make the interview itself a special memory? Invite your subject for tea and cookies, and set a pretty table. If you have access to old family photos, get those out as well for inspiration.
What was life like for a young bride in your day?
How did they divide responsibilities with your husband?
How were the children trained?
What was a typical breakfast or dinner?
How were groceries acquired?
Did you have a cleaning routine?
Did children help with the chores?
When and where did family meals take place?
If interviewing Mom or Dad’s family member, ask how your parent was with chores at your age.
Do you have any recipes or tips to share?
What modern conveniences did they not have?
What is the best advice you would give a new homemaker?
After the Interview:
Send a thank you note to your interviewee. You may want to include a copy of any article or video you create.
Write an article, story, or list questions and answers.
Discuss the interview with your mom. Did you learn any new skills or tips? How was your subject’s life different than yours? Did anything surprise you?
Ideas to Expand On:
If you really enjoyed this process, perhaps there are other subjects you can interview. You could compile a scrapbook full of homemaking heroes, or even create a home video with clips from several interviews. Or perhaps you’ll write a paper someday on the contrasting styles of keeping a house in different time periods or parts of the country.
Or, you could start a list of advice you’ve heard for when you start your own family. Maybe you even have a blog and you can share some of what you’ve learned.
© 2011 Angela Mills. Reprinted with permission of the author.
Angela has been homeschooling her two daughters since 2008. She is the writer behind HomegrownMom.com. She leads a homeschool drama club and is part of a homemaking co-op with her local park day group.