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Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
: Harper Trophy
Number of pages
: 238


This is the first book of the Little House series which is based on the life of the writer. This first episode is set in the period before the Ingalls family moved to the prairie. This is the place of Laura’s birth and the beginning of her childhood.

Little House in the Big Woods portrays a little girl with eyes full of wonder and heart full of love for her Ma and Pa and sister Mary. The theme of this book is very clear and simple —caring, sharing and growing up during a time when, even though you are a little girl, you do your part to help your family. The theme is brought out simply in each chapter. Laura and Mary had their "chores" each and every day. They were done —without hesitation or pushing from Ma and Pa —completely and thoroughly; then and only then would Laura play.

Little House in the Big Woods is one adventure after another in Laura’s life. It is a book of vivid descriptions of first-time happenings for Laura. There’s the dance at Grandpa’s where Laura watches all the "big girls" dress up. There is Laura’s first experience at seeing a town, and of course the fun at butchering time roasting the pig’s tail.

Strong points:

  • The story shows the "togetherness" of the Ingalls family and what little girls did to help their mothers.
  • This first episode of the series takes place in Wisconsin. The second will take place somewhere between Kansas and Oklahoma (Indian Territory). Later the family will move to De Smet in Dakota Territory. This is a good opportunity to integrate literature and geography.
  • This wonderful series of books gives a vivid picture of farming life in the 1870’s.
  • The value of the simple things of home life is emphasized: Ma makes her own cheese and maple sugar, Pa plays his fiddle and sings to keep the family safe and cozy when the wind howls through the night.


One of the functions of literature is to fit the traditions of a nation into stories of lasting beauty. Laura Ingalls Wilder succeeds very well in discovering the pioneering spirit of America and enshrining it in her well-written books. The stories, full of family warmth and exciting adventures, will appeal to all readers, but more especially to girls.