Title: Little House on the Prairie
Author: Laura Ingalls Wilder
Series: Little House series, book 2
Major Themes: Frontier, Indians, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Pioneers
Synopsis: Laura and Mary move with their family to Kansas to begin a new life there.
One thing I love about a large family is getting to read some of my favorite books over and over! We’re reading the Little House books right now; I believe this is the third time I have read them to my children—and I know I read and heard them all several times when I was growing up! These stories are a wonderful glimpse into America in the 1870s.
In Little House on the Prairie, Pa takes his family west to Kansas, where he has heard that a tract of Indian territory was soon going to be opened up to white settlers. He needs to get out of Wisconsin, which is getting too settled for him, and he likes the sound of open land with no trees to fight with. Ma packs up the family and goes along with him. They have to deal with the possibility of falling through the ice over the Mississippi River, getting stuck in mud for a week, and nearly drowning when a creek rises as they cross it before they find the place Pa wants to settle. Then, they must build a log cabin and barn and Pa must break land to plant crops.
Laura and Mary play on the prairie and take care of baby sister Carrie. They stare at the Indians who come by and listen as Ma and the neighbor talk about things Ma doesn’t want the girls to know about. They survive malaria and a long, cold winter in the log cabin. They also get to explore an Indian camp with Pa and play in the creek. Then there is the terrible spring when the Indians dance war dances in the creek bottoms for a week. What will happen then?
There is a lot of racism portrayed in this story. It was normal at that time, however, for many white people to be afraid of and hate all Indians. Pa got along with them all right, but Ma didn’t. Don’t let that aspect of the story stop you from reading this book with your children! It is a great picture of pioneer life, seen through the eyes of a little girl who lived it.
WARNING: Pa used stronger language in this book than I remember in any of the others in the series—although I might be surprised at what we come across; I had forgotten about it in this one. The most common words were blasted and durned; it was easy to skip or substitute as I read the book.
Read Aloud—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12, Family Read Alouds
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12