If I’ve ever loved anything in my life it has been the Little House books. Last year, my mom gave me a new book, Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography, and I was once again able to connect with a kindred spirit from so long ago.
The book contains some early drafts of Little House in the Big Woods, and reading them just melts my heart. I intensely relate to the feeling of being a tiny girl in a big, vast world and being so eager to learn about it all. I just want to transport myself to that little cabin, even though in real life it probably smelled weird, had fleas and was dead boring during those long winter days.
I don’t even know how many times I read Little House on the Prairie. I remember my mom giving it to me one evening and telling me that it was a story she thought I would like about a little girl during the pioneer days. Right away, I fell in love with Laura and Pa’s adventurous spirits, and the thought of being able to explore the wild, undeveloped woods and prairies of early America.
As I grew up, we would often look back and laugh at some of the situations described which would now be considered highly inappropriate for a children’s book – Ma describing Indians as savages, Laura demanding that she wanted to have the Indian baby with the beady black eyes, the scene with Pa in blackface… (I had NO idea what that was about and didn’t even comprehend that it was a racial thing until like, 20 years later.) Not to mention the fact that they built their “little house” in Indian Territory. Of course, I wouldn’t understand any of these things until much later.
Those things never took away from my love of the stories or of the people in them. Times change, and people learn from past mistakes. I will always hold Laura Ingalls Wilder as one of my favorite storytellers and hope to follow in her footsteps with some books of my own someday.
What do you think? Average-Sized Ranch in the Suburbs doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, but I’m sure I’ll figure something out.