Little House on the Prairie

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Little House on the Prairie is a children's novel. It was written by Laura Ingalls Wilder. It was published in 1935. It is the third book in Wilder's Little House series. The book and the series are based on Wilder's memories of her family's time in Kansas in the 19th century, but she changed many things so the story would make sense.[1] In the 20th century, it was made into a television series of the same name.

Plot[change | change source]

The Ingalls family decides to leave the Big Woods of Wisconsin because Mr. Ingalls thinks there are too many people in the Big Woods. He wants to live where wild animals are not afraid to be. He arranges to sell their house. The family puts their things in a covered wagon. They bring their dog, Jack, but they leave the cat, Black Susan, behind.

They follow a wagon trail west into the part of Kansas that was called "Indian territory" at the time. Mr. Ingalls knows that the land belongs to the American Indians but he thinks the United States federal government is going to change its mind about that. He thinks they will say that white people can settle in Kansas soon. He wants to build a farm before all the good places are taken. He sees a good place near a valley with a river in it, stops the wagon, and starts building a house out of logs from trees from the valley.

The book describes traveling west, building a house, daily chores, taking care of farm animals, meeting and interacting with neighbors, catching and getting better from malaria and interacting with American Indians.

The Ingalls family spends a year building and improving their house and farm. For example, they dig a well and put glass windows in the house. At the end of the book, the Ingalls family hears out that the government has not changed its mind and that all the white settlers must leave. The Ingalls house is three miles over the boundary into what is at that time American Indian land. The family pack their belongings into the covered wagon again and they leave.

Non-wite characters in the book[change | change source]

In 2018, the Association for Library Service to Children changed the name of its Laura Ingalls Wilder Award to the Children’s Literature Legacy Award because people did not like the way Wilder wrote about Native Americans in Little House on the Prairie. They said the book had "dated cultural attitudes toward Indigenous people and people of color that contradict modern acceptance, celebration, and understanding of diverse communities." For example, in the book, one white character says "the only good Indian is a dead Indian." Some of the words Ingalls use to describe Native Americans makes them sound like non-human animals. Other people disagreed, saying the book showed how complicated things between Native Americans and white settlers were. For example, it shows that the Ingalls family is on Indian land illegally, which means they must leave. It shows Laura asking her parents why they are in Indian territory if they don't want to be near Indians.[2]

There is one black character in the book. He is the doctor who cures the family when they catch malaria.

References[change | change source]

  1. Sarah Churchwell (January 8, 2015). "Pioneer Girl by Laura Ingalls Wilder review – gritty memoir dispels Little House myths". Guardian. Retrieved October 24, 2020.
  2. Amy S. Fatzinger (September 9, 2018). "Learning From Laura Ingalls Wilder". The Atlantic. Retrieved October 23, 2020.