By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Thank you for such a wonderful list of old-fashioned books! So excited to get these from our local library. 🙂

  2. I recently emailed Melissa Wiley about All of a Kind Family and she sent me here. I do hope that you are successful in bringing them back. My daughter read the first and claimed it was the best book she’d ever read. I’ve spent lots of time trying to hunt down the others (unsuccessful!).
    I’ve been reading through your archives this morning and you have a wonderful site! I added you to my Google Reader immediately. Thanks for all the great book suggestions!

    • To Jennifer,
      Thank you so much for coming by and I will have to thank Melissa Wiley as well. She was so successful in getting the Betsy-Tacy books back in print that she is my hero and my mentor in trying to get ALL 6 of the All-of-a-Kind Family books back in print. Try reserving the books you are missing through your library system. They will likely be able to get them from neighboring towns as well. I saw a few used on various sites; try Powells or Amazon. The trouble with Amazon was that the books were really expensive.

      Thank you for your kind words also!

  3. Read Aloud Dad

    Love these books Pragmatic Mom! Robert McCloskey is gem indeed!

    I just put The Great Brain series on my “to buy” list, thanks to your recommendation.

    Thanks for bringing my attention to this fab series.

    Also, the Penderwicks are on my wish list!

    (I’m off to check out your other top 10 book posts)

    Read Aloud Dad

    • To Read Aloud Dad,
      Thank you for your kind words. We just finished the third Penderwicks and are eagerly awaiting more. I can’t get my kids to try The Great Brain series but it’s probably more appealing to boys. I do love McCloskey so much! Nary a bad book in his body of work.

  4. Alison

    My daughter has enjoyed the Five Little Peppers and she is just now reading Betsy-Tacy. Just today did she mention that book 5 may not “be appropriate for her to read” (she’s 7 1/2). I had not even looked at it before! Oops, silly of me to assume it was like the first ones. Anyway, I love your review of these books and I can’t wait to check out the Penderwicks. Thank you!

    • To Alison,
      Thank you so much. I read the Betsy Tacy series so long ago but I remember the last few books jump to when Betsy, Tacy and Tib are in high school. The last book as I recall is when Betsy marries Joe. There is nothing that is inappropriate; it’s all G rated stuff but maybe your daughter just won’t enjoy reading about high school characters just yet. I don’t blame her.

      At 7 1/2 reading Five Little Peppers she’s clearly a great reader. I think she might really enjoy the Penderwick series and the Melendy quartet. Keep me posted!

  5. jengod

    Another great one is Mama’s Bank Account, which later became a movie. And I just found Belles on Their Toes at the used bookstore, which I’ve been dying to read since I was 10!

  6. jengod

    Oh, and another one that’s very recent but very much in the vein of Laura Ingalls Wilder is Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression by Mildred Armstrong Kalish. It’s wonderful stuff…

  7. Laurie Moulton

    Love this list! It’s a keeper. (My kids are a little young for some of the books on this list, but perhaps I’ll read/re-read them if I can’t wait until they are the right age!) Thanks, Pragmatic Mom!

  8. What about Carol Ryrie Brink books? Only two of hers, as far as I can tell, are still in print, Caddie Woodlawn and Baby Island, but many of the others are not (like Family Sabbatical) and they are hilarious. Caddie Woodlawn is not exactly conflict free but so much fun and true to life it’s great. Perhaps I can start a campaign for that after you succeed for All-of-a-Kind Family.

  9. choxbox

    And I just picked The Great Brain from the libe yesterday – totally on a whim.gut feel.

    What a coincidence!

  10. Leslie in VA

    Soooo happy that you were able to meet Melissa Wiley. She has been called a rockstar many times in our house since she has blessed our reading time with many of her suggestions. We love all the books that you mention and as the mother of 6 daughters, I have a soft spot for the All of a Kind books! Just read Mamas Bank Account this year. Delightful. . . .more suggestions would be the Ralph Moody Little Britches series and our all time favorite read aloud is Winter Cottage by Carol R. Brink. Super fun. Keep the suggestions coming!

    Are you on ‘Goodreads’ by any chance? Great way to score more suggested reads from like minded readers. I have been keeping track of what we read for a couple of years. I would love to see what you read as well!
    Leslie in VA recently posted…What Should Kids Read?My Profile

    • Hi Leslie,
      Melissa Wiley said that her super power would be that she’s very nice. I completely agree! Glad you like All of a Kind books too! I hope they get republished soon… the rest of the series not just the first one.

      Thank you also for your book suggestions! I am not really on Goodreads yet but I need to look into that!

  11. Cheryl in SD

    For boys (or girls, we alll loved them) you need to add Old Sam, Dakota Trotter by Don Taylor. It is Little House for boys!

  12. I think things have changed because if divorce isn’t an option, you figure out how to get along. Now some people may live in resentment, but others will learn to love again. My son just finished Mr. Popper’s Penguins and loved it! I’m sure we’ll be checking out more of the list in the near future! Thank you for sharing with Countdown in Style.
    April recently posted…We’re Back! Come Link Up with Countdown in Style! {#CIS Week 19}My Profile

    • Hi April,
      What an interesting point! I hadn’t thought about divorce not being an option 50 or 100 years ago but you are right! And also, consider that back then, people married after dating a few times at a very early age. That would be a recipe for divorce now I would think!

      So maybe getting along and preventing conflict was a huge issue back then that is modeled in these books that aren’t really exactly realistic but make for great reading for younger kids in first or second grade who can read more advanced chapter books but need the content screened.

      Thanks for your very interesting perspective!!!
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…FREE Books from Scholastic through EVEREADY® Gold®My Profile

  13. Brittnei

    Of course this list is new to me. I’ve never heard of any of these books. So nice of you to come up with a list like this for your friend. I definitely wouldn’t mind reading stories like this. Thanks so much for sharing it with us at Countdown in Style! 🙂
    Brittnei recently posted…Countdown in Style is Back! – Week 19My Profile

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