Bighara over at the Geekcave wrote a nice little piece about (yes, of all things) Little House on the Prairie.
He is reading the books with his daughters and provides a few thoughts on how life in pre-industrial times was--as taken from the writings of that series. I think that his observations are spot on.
Like him, I also read those books with my oldest daughter a few years ago. Children's books, yes, but I actually really enjoyed them. I thought that they were fascinating.