Read an Excerpt
Of Laura Ingalls Wilder's nine Little House books, perhaps the most beloved is Little House on the Prairie, a heartwarming adventure tale of a little pioneer girl named Laura Ingalls. Few stories can match the excitement of Laura and her family's covered-wagon journey from the Big Woods of Wisconsin to the wide prairies of Kansas and the drama of their experiences as homesteaders on the unsettled frontier.
When we read the Little House books as children and later read them to our own children, we thought about how it might have been to live in those days of log cabins and covered wagons. What was it like to cook every meal over an open fire, to make soap, to sew all the clothes for a family? We also wondered how much of the book was based on actual historical events. Did the neighbors Laura mentioned in the book really exist? Where was Laura's little log cabin, and what did it look like? The more we read, the more we wondered. We began to look for answers to these and other questions that we and our children had about Laura's life on the prairie.
Inside Laura's Little House provides the answers to many of our original questions and to dozens of others we thought of during our research. In the first chapter we provide a biography of Laura's life and a brief summary of Little House on the Prairie. We explain how Laura's real life was both different from and similar to the life she described in the book. We also discuss historic events that occurred during the time Laura lived on the prairie and include a time line and map.
Each of the seven chapters that follow focuses on an important topic from Little House on the Prairie,such as traveling west, building a prairie house, and celebrating Christmas on the prairie. In each chapter we summarize the parts of the book that feature that topic, and then we provide more historical details and information related to the topic. In these chapters we also include activities or recipes illustrating some of the things Laura and her family did, such as planting a prairie garden, cooking corn bread, or making paper dolls. And at the end of each chapter there are the words and music to one of the many songs featured in Little House on the Prairie or another popular song of the era.
The last chapter of this book is about how Little House on the Prairie and the other Little House books came to be published and what Laura thought about their success. We also explain how the book continues to live on today. Compiling all this information about Laura and Little House on the Prairie required a great deal of research, and at the end of the book is a bibliography that lists the titles of many of the resources we consulted.
With each new discovery we made about Laura and the way she lived, we increased our measure of respect for the Ingallses and the other pioneers who settled the prairies of the Midwest. Throughout Little House on the Prairie the Ingallses endured hardships but remained optimistic and cheerful and created a pattern for living admired and envied by future generations. We hope Inside Laura's Little House will make it possible for readers who love Laura and Little House on the Prairie to learn more about her life on the frontier--and to be inspired by the self-reliance and determination of a remarkable pioneer girl and an even more remarkable woman.