Laura Ingalls Wilder was born on February 7, 1867. She found fame in her later years after writing the Little House on the Prairie books, which chronicled her childhood and early days of marriage on the prairies and wide-open spaces of the American Midwest. She has charmed generations of readers, as well as viewers who tuned in weekly to watch her stories come to life in the television series based on her stories.
In the last year, there’s been a resurgence of interest in Little House on the Prairie—in large part thanks to Alison Arngrim, who played mean Nellie Oleson on the television series. During the shutdown of 2020, Ms. Arngrim began daily afternoon readings from the book, hosting a Facebook Live storytime each afternoon. She has delighted both adults and children alike with her fun and engaging readings that were interspersed with stories from the TV show.
With a renewed interest in the life and adventures of Laura Ingalls Wilder, February is a great time to remember her and the lessons she’s taught us. Those lessons include:
It’s up to us to teach our children how to help around the house.
In the 1932 book, Little House in the Big Woods, we meet a four-year-old Laura and vicariously experience farm life through her young eyes. Working from sunup to sundown is a family affair, and even as a toddler, she has her share of responsibilities.
Patience and waiting are important life skills.
In the 1933 book, Farmer Boy, we meet Laura’s future husband, Almanzo. As the youngest child, Almanzo experiences the growing pains of having to wait for what he most wants: a horse of his very own.
Don’t be afraid to try something new, or to be open to those who are different from you.
In the 1935 book, Little House on the Prairie, Pa decides to move the family from Wisconsin to Kansas, and life takes on a whole new set of challenges. And along the way, Laura learns that she should never be afraid to discover new things.
Difficult seasons are best navigated with the support of family.
In the 1937 book, On the Banks of Plum Creek, the Ingalls family moves to Minnesota when Laura is between the ages of seven and nine. She experiences the challenge of going to school for the first time and natural disasters that include locusts and a blizzard.
Challenges are a part of life, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make changes.
In the 1939 book, By the Shores of Silver Lake, the family moves again, this time to South Dakota. By this time, Laura’s sister Mary has gone blind, and the family learns how to navigate the challenges and obstacles that come with such a life-changing ordeal. Also, we begin to see Laura transition from a child to a young adult.
Selfless acts are never wasted.
In the 1940 book, The Long Winter, we learn about the winter of 1880, which brings blizzard after blizzard to the South Dakota Territory. The constant storms interrupt train service, which had brought goods and food to the area. Almanzo and a friend make an appearance, bringing wheat to the desolate town, despite the winter storms.
Family takes care of family.
In the 1941 book, Little Town on the Prairie, the Ingalls family has worked together to give Mary the opportunity to go to college. In addition to helping fund her older sister’s education, Laura earns her first teaching certificate, and Almanzo begins making regular appearances.
Finish what you start, even under difficult circumstances.
In the 1943 book, These Happy Golden Years, 15-year-old Laura is invited to teach her first school class and finds herself in a miserable position. Almanzo comes to her rescue and, week after week, drives 24 miles round trip to take her home on the weekends. At the end of her assignment, Almanzo pursues the relationship in earnest, despite Laura’s initial misgivings about him.
Learn more about Laura Ingalls Wilder online: LauraIngallsWilderHome.com.