Catching Fireflies

finding magic along the way

I Was a Pig-tailed Pioneer in a Former Life

Like many women my age, I grew up watching Little House on the Prairie. I remember it used to come on at 7pm and my sister and I would “call” either Laura or Mary, as in “I’m Mary!” and “I’m Laura,” depending on the episode. (We did this with Gilligan’s Island as well. She always called Ginger, and I, Mary Ann.) 🙂 Ok, we might have been weird little kids…

Anyway, back to the prairie… For anyone not familiar with this series and Laura Ingalls Wilder, first shame on you! and second, you can watch full episodes on YouTube so get to it! While it is obviously a pretty wholesome and old-fashioned show, it is quite addicting. I have seen every episode multiple times and have read every book.

Yes, like so many great and also sub-par movies, this series started as a set of wonderful books written by Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867-1957). Ms. Wilder started her writing career as a columnist for the Missouri Ruralist in 1911. Her daughter, who had achieved success as a writer, urged Ms. Wilder to become a writer to help supplement the family income. It wasn’t until the Stock Market Crash of 1929 wiped out the Wilders’ savings that she seriously looked into writing an autobiographical manuscript.

Over the years, there has been rumor that her daughter, Rose, was the one who polished her manuscripts. Still others state that Ms. Wilder was the sole author of the series and relied on her daughter for encouragement and her connections in the publishing world. Regardless, the books are gems.

The series is written for elementary-school aged children in a nine volume series. Since its initial publication in 1932, the series has not been out of print. They have been translated into 40 other languages! Her books were runner-up for the Newberry Medal five times. Ms. Wilder was the first recipient of the ALA Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal, an award established by the American Library Association to recognize authors and illustrators who have made a lasting contribution to children’s literature.

 The Little House Books which include (highlighted link will take you to the boxed set):

Little House in the Big Woods (1932)
Farmer Boy (1933)
Little House on the Prairie (1935)
On the Banks of Plum Creek (1937)
By the Shores of Silver Lake (1939)
The Long Winter (1940)
Little Town on the Prairie (1941)
These Happy Golden Years (1943)
and The First Four Years (1971)

Other books of note are as follows:

On the Way Home – diary of the move from South Dakota to Missouri
West from Home: Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder
Writings to Young Women, Volume 123
A Little House Traveller: Writings from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Journey Across America
A Little House Reader: A Collection of Writings by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farm Journalist: Writings from the Ozarks
Little House in the Ozarks: The Rediscovered Writings
Laura’s Album: A Remembrance Scrap Book of Laura Ingalls Wilder


There are museums dedicated to Laura Ingalls Wilder in Missouri, South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas, and Wisconsin. Her work has been adapted for screen and stage several times.

For further reading, please check out these websites:

Laura Ingalls Wilder, Frontier Girl
Beyond Little House: Comprehensive Laura Ingalls Wilder Blog

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