Little House on the Prairie

by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Series: The Little House Books #2
335 pages, Biography/History
Reviewed by Jeanne

A fascinating continuation of a series about a pioneer family, with one ethical problem.


The Big Woods of Wisconsin have become too crowded with people for Laura's family and they are heading west in their covered wagon, trading woods for flat, wide-open grassland. Pa builds a house on the high prairie, and then comes the task of scratching a living out of the dry earth.


Laura is not always good (no one is, after all) and has a hard time being unselfish and kind; she is also sometimes angry with her sister Mary, who seems to have an easier time being good than Laura does. Good behavior is encouraged, however, and Ma and Pa correct the children when they are naughty. Bravery and selflessness are promoted and both parents are fine role models.

The Indians occasionally steal from the Ingalls, and to prevent trouble there is nothing that the latter can do. Pa says that the government "makes the Indians go west" in order for the white settlers to have room, and he does not seem to find the practice anything but fine and normal. Laura, however, questions it.

Spiritual Content

When they lose dog Jack in a river, Laura asks Ma if he will go to heaven; she says that he will, because he was a good dog. They say prayers and attend church when they can, and do no work on Sunday.


Laura and her family have a rough time crossing a flooded river in their wagon, and she reflects that if anyone had done something wrong, they would have all been drowned and no one would know what became of them. There are wolf packs on the prairie and Pa has to stay up at night with his gun to be sure they keep their distance; Indians also pose a potential threat to settlers. Dog Jack is nearly shot; Pa encounters a panther. The Ingalls nearly die from malaria, and another time their home is threatened when a prairie fire breaks out.

Drug and Alcohol Content

While digging a well, a man breathes an underground gas that nearly kills him. Pa smokes a pipe with tobacco.

Sexual Content

The Indians wear only skunk skins around their waists; Ma sings a love song, which is perfectly clean.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

Pa begins to tell something "to be..." and Ma interrupts him with a reprimand; he finishes by saying, "...be good." He later starts to call the Indians "screeching devils," but stops halfway through the second word; he says "darned" once.


"Little House on the Prairie" is even more engaging and full of adventures than its predecessor, and the stories are more tightly tied together. Laura Ingalls Wilder recounts the trials that her family went through as one of the earliest ones to settle the Western Plains, and does it in a style that is not only easy for younger children to read and understand, but is also good as a read-aloud. The issue of forcing Indians off their land is the only point raised by this story that parents may wish to discuss; otherwise, "Little House on the Prairie" represents a perfect tale for young girls.

Fun Score: 5
Values Score: 3.5
Written for Age: 11-12

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