Little House on the Prairie, Revisited by KellyAnne Terry

Many households embrace a time of tradition as the holidays approach.  There seems to be certain things we do during this season to reflect our upbringing, our values and our wish for comfort and joy.  For me, I see this season as a time of wonder and imagination and I find myself revisiting some of my favorite books. One such series that I continue to cherish is the “Little House on the Prairie”.

“Little House in the Big Woods” by Laura Ingalls Wilder is one of the first books I can remember reading on my own.  Maybe because of this, the chapter titled “Christmas” is one of my favorite stories in all the Little House tales. The snow is so deep outside it is over Laura’s head, which means Pa must shovel a path to the barn where the animals are all cozy.  Ma is baking up lots of treats and Mary and Laura each pour strings of syrup into pans of snow to make a sort of candy, of which they could each eat only one piece before Christmas. Then Aunt Eliza and Uncle Peter show up with the cousins in a horse-drawn bobsled with jingle bells and – well, by now you should have some memories kindling!

But wait, there’s more! Not only do we have the entire Little House in book format, we also have all the books in audio format too.  They live down in the youth section.  And just recently we acquired the wonderful Little House on the Prairie television series in our DVD collection. Yes, we have Michael Landon and Melissa Gilbert available to tug the heartstrings. Just as I read every single book as a child, I have watched every single episode of the Little House television series – mostly as a teenager when I was getting ready for school.  I had a tiny television set in the corner of my peach bedroom that played Little House re-runs on TNT early every weekday morning.

The books Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote were partly autobiographical, and she relied heavily on her childhood and the stories she heard to paint a picture of the life she shared with millions of readers.  But it wasn’t until 1930, when Wilder was sixty-three-years old, that she penned a true autobiography.  This work, titled “Pioneer Girl”, was published by the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation as an annotated book in 2014.  It is lovely – full of pictures and historical commentary with the steady voice of Laura Ingalls telling story after story, many of them familiar to the reader from her previous writings. “Pioneer Girl” is available in our biography section.

One final note, we have a memoir written by a woman who went in search of the “Laura experience.” Wendy McClure seeks out the scenes of the novels – even swimming in Plum Creek – to connect with the literature and the little girl she loved.  McClure’s story is about returning to tradition, childhood reading, and finding a time of reminiscence.  Aptly named, McClure’s memoir is titled “The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie”. An adventure indeed.  Thank you, dear Laura Ingalls Wilder, you live on in the hearts of so many prairie girls.

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