In follow-up to my post about five facts and five books that impacted my life, I pulled out my Laura Ingalls Wilder collection. The Little House on the Prairie books played an enormous role in my childhood. I wanted to be a writer and a teacher like Laura. My parents even took me to De Smet, South Dakota to see her house and watch a Little House performance. I relentlessly carried around the yellowed copies of these books and spent endless afternoons playing dress-up as an Ingalls girl. I know these books have come under fire in recent times, and I acknowledge the controversy. However, I credit them as being my first inspiration to start writing.
More about Little House on the Prairie and Me
Why did I love the Little House story so much? Wilder’s detailed descriptions of life on the homestead — whether in a log cabin or a sod house or a simple wooden house in town — gave me an opportunity to escape modern day life (in the 1980s) and explore the world in simpler times. Growing up in small-town Nebraska, I could relate to the prevalence of agriculture in Laura’s surroundings. Also, I was a lonely child, and the books showed me what it would be like to be part of a much bigger family with friends all around.
Also, I loved the TV show Little House on the Prairie. Watching an episode with my mom and sister is one of my first memories of television. (That and an episode of Days of Our Lives, which they watched almost religiously.) Melissa Gilbert (Laura) and Michael Landon (Pa/Charles) were my favorites, and I loved the tension that Alison Arngrim (Nellie Oleson) brought to the show. Again, because I was raised in such a small town — I attended Grades K through 4 in a two-room schoolhouse — I could relate to the lives of the characters in Walnut Grove. While the show went beyond the books and took liberties with the storylines, it still brought a simple joy to a young girl who lived in her imagination.
Thanks for indulging this trip down memory lane for me. Do you have books from your childhood that you think upon fondly today? Why?
P.S. – The wooden stool in the picture above is also from my childhood. My older brother, who is 13 years older than me, made it for me in his wood shop class when I was itty bitty. As you can see, it has been well-loved as it’s traveled with me for nearly a lifetime.