As you can tell, I never read this series when I was a kid. They sat there on the bookshelf, occasionally tempting me. But the couple of times I tried to pick them up, they just couldn't hold my interest. This is rather strange, since I read Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink repeatedly as a child, and they're essentially the same story. I've never seen the television show, either.
All this meant that it was high time I picked up one of the books in this series, and I'm oh-so-glad I did. Little House on the Prairie tells a simple story that is really not that simple. Life wasn't complicated by technology and social media. Each day passed slowly, living in the outdoors. But that's exactly what made it not so simple. Can you imagine living as the Ingalls family did? To pack everything on your wagon, leaving all the furniture behind - after all, you can simply make more. To build a house in a random spot from what you can find on the land. To hunt for each night's supper - otherwise, you won't eat. I guess I am truly a child of the twenty-first century, because I truly cannot fathom being totally self-reliant like that. Settlers who lived in this way just gained an awful lot of respect from me.
I'm sure Laura Ingalls Wilder's treatment of the Indians is a source for much controversy. We all cringe when we read, "The only good Indian is a dead Indian." And while that was an accurate portrayal of many settlers' feelings at the time, it isn't the opinion of Charles Ingalls and his family. Charles views Indians as individuals, as human beings - not savages, as his neighbors do. He offers them respect and peace. Which makes me wonder if this was really Charles' opinion at the time, or was this Laura trying to make her father look good in retrospect?
It took me much too long to truly discover this series. But now that I have, it won't be much longer before I add the rest of it to my repertoire. I just need to go get them from my childhood bookshelf, dust them off, and enter the world of Laura Ingalls Wilder.