Content last modified October 2012
Laura Ingalls was born in Pepin, Wisconsin, a few years after the end of the Civil War. As a young girl, Laura moved with her family to the Dakota Territory to homestead. Having mistakenly settled on Indian land, the family moved again to Minnesota, "on the banks of Plum Creek." In the mid-1870s they became innkeepers in Iowa, but later in the decade traveled back to Dakota Territory where they again homesteaded. Near the town of De Smet, Laura Ingalls taught school and in 1885 married Almanzo Wilder. In 1894 due to poor weather and financial conditions, the Wilders with daughter Rose made a six-month wagon journey to Mansfield, Missouri. Laura Wilder helped build a permanent home, Rocky Ridge Farm, and worked at farming tasks. Her first published writing appeared in the Missouri Ruralist in 1911. She founded the Mansfield Farm Loan Association, was active in that organization and continued to write.
The first volume of the "Little House" series, Little House in the Big Woods, was published in 1932 when Wilder was sixty-five. Between 1933 and 1943 six more "Little House" books and Farmer Boy appeared, The enduringly popular stories are based on her childhood and chronicle, with some artistic license, the peregrinations and daily lives of the Ingalls family. Wilder wrote the stories because she realized she had lived history, and she wanted children to learn about America's heritage--frontier life, homesteading, the coming of the railroads--as she had experienced it as a child. Even though the country had changed considerably since her youth, Wilder noted in 1955 that the values of honesty, truth and courage remained.
Laura Ingalls Wilder died in 1957. Since 1960 the American Library Association has given an award honoring her to an eminent children's author or illustrator. The weekly television series, "Little House on the Prairie," was broadcast from 1974 to 1983. A musical play, "Prairie," appeared in 1982.
Following is a list of the contents of the "Little House" series in the order which they should be read, according to the Children's Catalog, 1971. Farmer Boy is supplemental to the series. Dates indicate original dates of publication. All of the books listed are available from NLS network library collections or for download in braille and digital from the Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD).
Little House in the Big Woods
In a little log house in Wisconsin in the 1870s, the Ingalls family feels safe and secure despite blizzards, wolves, and the loneliness of the big woods. 1932
Little House on the Prairie
The family moves west by covered wagon and builds a new home on the Kansas prairie, only to discover that it is in Indian Territory. 1935
On the Banks of Plum Creek
Leaving the prairie for a farm and a primitive sod hut in Minnesota, the Ingalls must battle a flood, a blizzard, and a devastating plague of grasshoppers. 1937
By the Shores of Silver Lake
Moving westward once more, this time to the Dakota Territory, Pa finds a job in a railroad camp and the family takes up a homestead. 1939
The Long Winter
The Ingalls move from their stake on the Dakota prairie to their store in town until trains stop running, and the community, isolated for months, faces starvation.
Little Town on the Prairie
It is 1881 and Mary, who is blind, is leaving for college. Laura is beginning to teach in town. 1941
These Happy Golden Years
Laura Ingalls and Almanzo Wilder, the town's most eligible bachelor, enjoy a delightful romance while Laura teaches school. When her last term ends, they marry and begin a long an happy life together. 1943
First Four Years
The story of Laura and Almanzo Wilder and their first years together on a homestead on the Dakota prairie in the late 1800s.
A delightful account of traditional life in upper New York State in the 1860s, relating work, school, and simple amusements, introduces nine-year old Almanzo Wilder. 1933