One of my favorite series growing up was Little House on the Prairie. They sparked a love of historical fiction throughout my childhood—I read every book in the American Girl and Dear America series. But the Little House series was the first one I fell in love with, and I spent many afternoons pretending to travel across America in a covered wagon.
The real things haven’t changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong. —Laura Ingalls Wilder
In retrospect, I think what I loved most about the series was how Wilder was able to reflect on her own past experiences and see the beauty in everyday things, how young Laura found adventures in her ordinary life (which was sometimes less than ordinary). My family moved around a lot when I was younger, so I connected with a character whose family moved from place to place. The Ingalls family stayed their own, tightly-knit little unit wherever they went.
I used to dress up my dolls as Laura and Mary (conveniently, I had Molly and Kirsten from the American Girl series, so their brown and blond hair matched the characters) and take them on prairie adventures. I set up a wagon out of a rocking horse, picnic table, and retired baby swing (for the reins, of course):
My favorite of the series was On the Banks of Plum Creek. It was my overall favorite book for most of elementary school. I also read all of the associated series (written by different authors) about different generations of Laura’s family—her daughter Rose, mother Caroline, grandmother Charlotte, and great-grandmother Martha.
I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all. —Laura Ingalls Wilder
While driving through the Ozarks in Missouri last year, I was reminded of the Wilder farm. While I didn’t have time to actually go visit, it was neat to see that region of the country in person and have a visual to go along with the stories I remember so well. On my list of things to read in the future is Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder, which I saw in a gift shop in St. Louis. It looked really interesting, and I’m intrigued to know more about the process of how Wilder wrote down her stories!