Little House on the Prairie: The Most Influential Book I Ever Read

Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of Little House on the Prairie, as a girl

Little House on the Prairie: The Most Influential Book I Ever Read

Melina Druga
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Authors often are asked, “What was the most influential book you ever read?” or “Which author inspired you?”  I was an avid reader throughout my youth and young adulthood, graduated with a degree in English, and Edith Wharton is my favorite author.  However, the most influential book was Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

The book and the series by the same name instilled in me a love of history.  It is a love that has not faded over the years, but instead has grown stronger.  By extension, the series made me ponder what life was like in previous eras.  Without that curiosity, I probably wouldn’t be writing historical fiction today.

The Little House on the Prairie Series

Caroline and Charles Ingalls
Caroline and Charles Ingalls

The first book in the series, Little House in the Big Woods, was released in 1932.

The series is semi-autobiographical.  While it is based on Wilder’s life, she did gloss over much of the hardship pioneers faced – barely mentioning her brother’s death, for instance – fictionalized some events and created composite characters based off multiple people.

In the first several books, Wilder made herself older in order to explain having a recollection of events.

The series also isn’t without controversy.  In recent decades, it has been criticized for its depictions of minorities, especially Native Americans, and its comments about the American government.

A television series loosely based on the books debuted in 1974 and ran until 1983.

Other Books I Loved in my Youth

What were some of the other books I enjoyed in my youth?

In elementary school, the popular books were the Bernstein Bears.  Everyone had a collection.  We later moved on to the Amelia Bedelia and Babysitters Club series.

Later, I became more interested in literature than pop fiction and read the Anne of Green Gables series.  But I was still attracted to pop fiction, reading a number of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine books.

I also read a fair amount of nonfiction, especially books on astronomy and dinosaurs.

What books were some of your favorites in your youth?  Leave a comment below.

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Most kids have an active imagination. My imagination has stayed strong into adulthood, and I’ve funneled that creativity into a successful writing career. I write history, both fiction and nonfiction, because although your school history classes may have been boring, the past is not. My goal is to bring the past to life in all its myriad of colors.
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