I loved reading the Betsy-Tacy series. They're written by Maude Heart Lovelace, and they're similar to the Little House books since they are somewhat autobiographical stories of the author's childhood. The first book tell the story when 5-years-old Betsy meets her lifelong best friend Tacy. In a way the stories in this book are almost perfect for a 5-year-old. They're full little girl adventures, where they play dress-up, or paper dolls, or imagine themselves being able to fly like a bird. I'm sure any five-year-old would love having this book read to them, and my one regret is that I didn't discover these books until I was in middle school.
The reason I still loved these books, even though I was in middle school, is because the characters don't stay 5-years-old throughout. Each book they get older, and each book their world expends. Each book takes place two years later, until the high school years, which begins with Heaven to Betsy.
Betsy's high school years are pretty much my perfect idea of high school. As you would expect there's tons of boys, lots of parties, school dances, football games, and a sorority or two. Reading these books in middle school, I had only hoped I would have 4 years of high school just like Betsy's. Of course there's some heartbreak, as well as some friendships that turn a little sour, but it only makes it feel more real. What's more amazing about how much I identified and wanted to be Betsy, is that these books take place in the early 1900s. The stories seem so universal, that they could easily take place today.
Thankfully the stories don't end with high school graduation. The go on to take Betsy out into the great world, and finally end with her wedding.
I've read and reread these books so many times I can't count. I've even reread the Betsy-Tacy Companion, which is a biography of the author's life, but also shares pictures of the "real" characters and gives the truth behind a lot of the stories. The actual houses where both "Besty" and "Tacy" grew up are still standing, and have been turned into museums in Mankato, Minnesota. I've never been to Minnesota, but I desperately want to go someday if only to visit the houses. I'm really hoping that someone who reads this loves the books as much as me. And if you've never read them, I strongly encourage you to do so. I think it's practically impossible to read this series and not fall in love!