Little House on the Prairie is the third book of a series written by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The story takes place when Laura is a little girl who travels with her father and mother, and two sisters, from the “Big Woods” where too many people had moved, to a place further west that she terms “Indian country.” In reality, the Ingalls family is moving from Wisconsin to Kansas, where there is more opportunity to live off the land. The story is a basic account of the family’s adventure pretty much on a day-to-day basis. Because the story happens during the latter 1860s, the family needed to travel across the harsh landscape by wagon. They are met by many challenges such as extreme weather, and a dangerous river crossing where they almost lose the family pet dog. But they finally reach their destination in the prairie of Kansas, where “Pa” Ingalls builds a cabin. The rest of the story tells about life on the prairie during their start there. The threat of an attack by a pack of wolves and encounters with natives who live on a nearby reservation. The last part of the book basically tells how the Ingalls are settling into their new home and beginning their lives on the prairie.

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Laura Ingalls Wilder was born on February 7, 1867 in Pepin, Wisconsin. She was the second child of four born to her father Charles and mother Caroline. Like her stories, the Ingalls family moved a lot, living in a number of states across the Midwest until settling in De Smet, South Dakota. While the risks of moving and living in what was then wilderness were present all of the time, it may be that the most difficult thing for the Ingalls family was the harsh, freezing winters when it was impossible to stay warm and have enough food in order to survive (“Laura Ingalls Wilder.”). Because she and her family travelled so often, Laura did not receive a proper education at school until settling in De Smet. Like her siblings Laura worked several jobs to help support the family. At the age of 15 she earned a teaching certificate, teaching area children while getting her own education. She taught school for three years until she married Almanzo Wilder in 1885 (“Laura Ingalls Wilder.”). The couple had a daughter named Rose and would move to Mansfield, Missouri in 1894 where Laura and her husband would remain until death. Almanzo farmed the land and Laura eventually began writing about their lives for the newspaper in her hometown of De Smet. From there, she soon began writing for national magazines until the 1930s when her series of books began to be published. Laura Ingalls Wilder lived a long life, passing away on February 10, 1957 (“Laura Ingalls Wilder.”).

The young life of Laura Ingalls Wilder occurred as the United States was still dealing with the effects of the Civil War, which had torn the country apart. It was a period known as The Reconstruction, which was meant as a way of giving more rights to former slaves while rebuilding parts of the South in order for it to survive economically (“The Irrepressible Conflict.”). During the late 1800s machines were beginning to replace human labor, but it was also a time when the railroads were pushing further west and people would soon follow. As a result of all of this activities the country enjoyed a great deal of economic growth. The United States government was growing bigger as well as becoming more involved in foreign affairs (“Industrialization and Reform.”). By the turn of the century the era of big business had exploded and factories were built throughout the east and upper Midwest regions and by this time. This is also a time of mass immigration, where the majority of migrants came from countries throughout Europe. For some time, America would enjoy a great deal of economic growth until it entered the First World War in 1914 (“Industrialization and Reform.”). By the time Laura Ingalls Wilder began to write the country was in the middle of the Great Depression, which had happened because of the downturn in the stock market (“Depression and a World in Conflict.”).

  • “Depression and a World in Conflict.” Active USA Center AUC, n.d. Web. 10 June 2016.
  • “Industrialization and Reform.” Active USA Center AUC, n.d. Web. 10 June 2016. .
  • “The Irrepressible Conflict.” Active USA Center AUC, n.d. Web. 10 June 2016. .
  • “Laura Ingalls Wilder.” Famous Authors. Famous Authors, 2012. Web. 9 June 2016. .
  • Wilder, Laura I. Little House on the Prairie. New York: HarperTrophy, 1971. Print.