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10 Facts About Laura Ingalls Wilder

Author of the Little House Books

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Image of Little House 9-book boxed set
HarperCollins
Generations of children have delighted in the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. In her books, Wilder shared stories based on her own life and provided a fascinating look at the daily life of a pioneer girl and her family in the latter part of the nineteenth century. As you'll see below, I have provided far more than 10 facts - more like 10 clusters of facts.
  1. The Ingalls Family - Laura Ingalls was born on February 7, 1867 near Pepin, Wisconsin, the daughter of Charles and Caroline Ingalls. Laura’s sister, Mary, was two years older than Laura and her sister, Carrie, was more than three years younger. When Laura was 8, her brother, Charles Frederic, was born. He died less than a year later. When Laura was 10, her sister, Grace Pearl, was born.

  2. A Real Pioneer Girl - Laura really was a pioneer girl, living in Wisconsin Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa and Dakota Territory while she was growing up. Her Little House books are closely based on her life, but they are not an exact account; they are historical fiction rather than nonfiction.

  3. Laura Grows Up - After she passed the test and received her teaching certificate at the age of 15, Laura spent several years teaching school. On August 25, 1885, when Laura was 18, she married Almanzo Wilder. She wrote about his childhood in upstate New York in her Little House book Farmer Boy.

  4. The Difficult Years - The first years of Almanzo and Laura’s marriage were very difficult and included illness, the death of their baby son, poor crops and a fire. Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about those years in the last of her Little House books, The First Four Years, which was not published until 1971.

  5. Rose Wilder - One joyous event in the early years was the birth of Laura and Almanzo’s daughter, Rose, in 1886. Rose grew up to be a writer. She is credited with helping to convince her mother to write the Little House books and helping with editing, although exactly how much is still somewhat in question.

  6. Rocky Ridge Farm - After several moves, in 1894, Laura, Almanzo and Rose moved to Rocky Ridge Farm near Mansfield, Missouri, and there Laura and Almanzo remained until their deaths. It was at Rocky Ridge Farm that Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote the Little House books. The first was published in 1932 when Laura was 65 years old.

  7. Laura Ingalls Wilder, Writer - Laura did have some writing experience before she wrote the Little House books. In addition to working on their farm, Laura held several part-time writing jobs, including serving for more than a decade as as a columnist for Missouri Ruralist, a bimonthly farm paper. She slso had articles in other publications, including Missouri State Farmer and St. Louis Star.

  8. The Little House Books - In all, Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote nine books that came to be known as “Little House” books.
    • Little House in the Big Woods
    • Farmer Boy
    • Little House on the Prairie
    • On the Banks of Plum Creek
    • By the Shores of Silver Lake
    • The Long Winter
    • Little Town on the Prairie
    • These Happy Golden Years
    • The First Four Years
  9. The Laura Ingalls Wilder Award - After four of the Little House Books won Newbery Honors, the American Library Association established the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award to honor authors and illustrators whose children's books, published in the United State, have had a major impact on children’s literature. The first Wilder Award was awarded in 1954 and Laura Ingalls Wilder was the recipient. Other recipients have included: Tomie dePaola (2011), Maurice Sendak (1983), Theodor S. Geisel/Dr. Seuss (1980) and Beverly Cleary (1975).

  10. The Little House Books Live On - Almanzo Wilder died on October 23, 1949. Laura Ingalls Wilder died on February 10, 1957, three days after her 90th birthday. Her Little House books had already become classics and Laura delighted in the responses of young readers to her books. Children all over the world, particularly 8 to 12 year olds, continue to enjoy and learn from Laura's stories of her life as a pioneer girl.

(Sources: Bio.com: Laura Ingalls Wilder Biography, Laura Ingalls Wilder Award Home Page, HarperCollins: Laura Ingalls Wilder Biography
Miller, John E., Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Woman Behind the Legend, University of Missouri Press, 1998)

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