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Favorite Laura Ingalls Wilder Books

Updated on February 8, 2013

Have You Shared the "Little House" Books With Your Kids Yet?

Will a high-tech generation of kids even want to read books written about a time before electricity, WalMarts and malls?

I think so! I think there are many kids nowadays who might read these stories and wish they had a closer relationship with their parents, the way it was possible to be before so many electronic distractions. Family members now can be in the same room, but texting and talking to people they barely know. The characters in these books had a tough life compared to ours, but they worked together through the rough times and shared and laughed through the good.

I read the first three of these books to my own daughters when they were young. Children love bedtime stories and sharing this special time with whoever is reading, plus they open up an opportunity for conversation, discussing and comparing the differences in the ways of life.

There was something about these books that draws you into the people in them. It's important for children to realize what life was like in the beginnings their country, that their country was built by the strength and resolve of these early settlers. Back when people lived off the land, thier own ingenuity, and the things they made. These are stories illustrating the strength, values and love of family and friends. These weren't books of fiction, they were based on real-life events that happened around Laura Elizabeth Ingalls, starting when she was four years old.

My favorite books take place when Laura is younger, so I've only included five here.

(The photo of Laura Ingalls Wilder is public domain at Wikimedia Commons)

Laura Ingalls Wilder (February 7, 1867 - February 10, 1957)

Laura Ingalls Wilder                                                  (February 7, 1867 - February 10, 1957)
Laura Ingalls Wilder (February 7, 1867 - February 10, 1957)

Little House in the Big Woods

This is the first book in the series of Little House books. It begins in Wisconsin when Laura is only four years old, where she lives in a little log cabin in the woods with her Ma and Pa, two sisters, and her dog, Jack. There are many things to do and even though she's very young, Laura has chores she's expected to contribute to prepare for winter. There's the planting and harvesting of crops, a rare trip to town, and Christmas with visiting cousins where she gets a doll she names Charlotte. It's a hard life, with simple pleasures.

Curling Up With Your Child And These Books - Sure To Warm Your Heart on These Cold Winter Days

Christmas in the Big Woods (Little House Picture Book)
Christmas in the Big Woods (Little House Picture Book)

This is a simplified book for children beginning at age four, with lovely illustrations. A great reminder, especially at this time of year, that there's more to holiday season than material things.

Sugar Snow (Little House Picture Book)
Sugar Snow (Little House Picture Book)

Laura is delighted when a soft, thick snow falls in late spring in the Big Woods of Wisconsin. A late snow helps the trees make more sap for maple syrup, and maple syrup means sweet sugar cakes and sticky fingers for Laura!

As an adult, Laura would look back on this time as favorite memories.

My Book of Little House Paper Dolls: The Big Woods Collection
My Book of Little House Paper Dolls: The Big Woods Collection

Laura and her big sister, Mary, enjoy playing with paper dolls. Great for the imagination, the characters in the book are easily punched out, although the clothes need to be cut with scissors, hopefully a task a grownup will help with for the younger girls.


Little House on the Prairie

Many people think they are familiar with this book since it was made famous by the TV series of the same name. But the difference is in the book, after Pa moves the family from their log cabin in Wisconsin and travel in the covered wagon to homestead a new home on the prairie, there is always the threat of Indians and eventually they are forced by the government to leave their new farm, as they've settled on Indian territory. That's the background story while Laura has adventures of her own on the plains of Kansas, and the family tries to farm their land. She's more curious about the Indians than the grown-ups who better understand the potential danger. There are a lot of issues in this book parents can discuss with their children concerning issues of land ownership and the two culture classes.

Going West (Little House Picture Book)
Going West (Little House Picture Book)

This beautifully illustrated book can be enjoyed by children from the age of three. It shows the Ingalls family, and how Pa is getting more upset by the growing population in Wisconsin who are chasing off the animals he hunts, and his decision to move ... out west.

A Little Prairie House (Little House Picture Book)
A Little Prairie House (Little House Picture Book)

This book sums up the travels in a covered wagon in the first chapter of "The Little House on the Prairie".


On the Banks of Plum Creek

To me, this is the book in which "The Little House on the Prairie" TV show featured. Here, Laura is seven to nine. Having been forced to leave their prairie home in Kansas, they travel once more in their covered wagon to Minnesota. Pa trades their two horses in exchange for a sod house and then begin building a wooden home. Finally Laura and Mary are able to go to school, and it's here they meet the shop keepers snooty daughter, Nellie Oleson.

Share Cooking and Crafts From Pioneer Days

The Little House Cookbook: Frontier Foods from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Classic Stories
The Little House Cookbook: Frontier Foods from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Classic Stories

I got this for my older daughter and we had fun experimenting with some of the 100 recipes. The recipes are broken into chapters with explanations. Now her six year old is into the Little House books and they are starting their own cooking adventures.

My Little House Cookbook (My First Little House Books)
My Little House Cookbook (My First Little House Books)

This is a simplified cookbook for the younger set. I'd recommend trying to make your own butter, but skip past the popcorn and milk.


What was your favorite Laura Ingalls Wilder Book?

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By the Shores of Silver Lake

This time, restless Pa has moved his family from Minnesota to Dakota territory. This book takes place during the year Laura was 12. There is still fun for Laura, her first ride on a train and a horse, plus an adventure at night involving a wolf. But this was a more serious book, the family has been sick and Laura's sister, Mary, is now blind. Warning - the beloved dog, Jack, dies. Life is changing rapidly with the advent of the railroad trains. The Ingalls family are among the first settlers there and Pa finally begins building the first building from leftover railroad lumber and the beginning of what will be the town DeSmet, along the shores of Silver Lake.

De Smet: The Little Town on the Prairie - Where, "By the Shores of Silver Lake" and "The Long Winter" took place.

What I love about these books, is these were real people, a real family, in real, findable places and many of the things Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about, really happened, either to her, or people she heard of.

I think that's what makes these stories so special, we can feel the simplicity of just a tale being told of people forging a life and values we inherited.

The Long Winter

This was based on the true story of a seven month winter Laura and her family endured, The people in the town are dependent on the supply trains but the trains are snowed in, and the people in the town were starting to starve and freeze with no food or fuel. Hearing there might be food, two brave young men hike 20 miles away to try to save the town. There are snowball fights and a late Christmas after all.

My Book of Little House Christmas Paper Dolls: Christmas on the Prairie
My Book of Little House Christmas Paper Dolls: Christmas on the Prairie

I added this because I thought it'd be a nice combination, the book, "Christmas in the Big Woods", to inspire the imagination with the "Little House Christmas Paper Dolls" to accompany it.


Farmer Boy

This book is an obvious choice for a boy to read although it's a great story for girls reading the "Little House" series, and can be read anywhere within these early Little House books. They are some of the stories that happened with Laura's future husband, Almanzo Wilder when he was a young boy. He has a busy life of farm chores, but enjoys the fair and the peddler when they come to town, and he loves being around the horses he hopes to train some day.

Your Kids Can Have Their Own Barnyard Animals

Winter on the Farm (Little House Picture Book)
Winter on the Farm (Little House Picture Book)

A warm winter story about a farmboy, Almanzo Wilder, for the younger kids.

Fisher-Price Little People Animal Sounds Farm
Fisher-Price Little People Animal Sounds Farm

Have your child play along taking care of the animals in their very own barn.

Learning Resources Jumbo Farm Animals, 7 Pieces
Learning Resources Jumbo Farm Animals, 7 Pieces

Farm animals as seen on Almanzo's farm.


Parting Thoughts .... - Any Special Memories or Associations with the Little House Books?

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    • profile image

      resabi 5 years ago

      I have to admit I never read these, although my sister read them all (I was deep into fairytales and magic books by Nesbit, Eager, Carroll, C.S. Lewis, etc. I did read Alcott's books and Burnett and Wodehouse. But my experience of these stories comes from the TV series. I think I need to try them now. Very nice lens.

    • MariaMontgomery profile image

      MariaMontgomery 5 years ago from Central Florida, USA

      I have always loved these books. My daughter loved them, too.

    • RationalHedonist profile image

      RationalHedonist 5 years ago

      @SandraWilson LM: It will be a nice deja vu to hear your own daughter reading those same words to her children that you once read to her :)

    • Country-Sunshine profile image

      Country Sunshine 5 years ago from Texas

      I read these books many times. Nice reminder of good books for the younger generation!

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 5 years ago from Concord VA

      The Laura Ingalls books were my most favorite and cherished books when I was a girl and still are! :)

    • SandraWilson LM profile image

      SandraWilson LM 5 years ago

      I read all the Laura Ingalls books to my children. They loved them. I can hardly wait to start reading or having my daughter read them to her children.

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 5 years ago

      I agree with your points about giving children exposure to a setting where children and parents have tight nurturing relationships.

    • junecampbell profile image

      June Campbell 5 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      I read all of the Laura books when I was a kid. Great series.

    • RationalHedonist profile image

      RationalHedonist 5 years ago

      @TeacherSerenia: They do seem to be directed towards girls, but you might check out Farmer Boy from your library and see if it'd be something he'd like. It's more directed towards boys :)

    • TeacherSerenia profile image

      TeacherSerenia 5 years ago

      Wonderful lens. As tot he questions, HAve I read these books to my kids - well No I haven't - for obvious reasons. You have daughters. I have a son. He does not want to read books about GIRLS!!! I read all the books when I was a child. I dont know that I have a favourite - I liked all of them. I also LOVED watching the TV Series as well.