Little House in the Big Woods (Little House, No 1)

by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Paperback, 1971




HarperCollins (1971), Edition: 1, 256 pages


A year in the life of two young girls growing up on the Wisconsin frontier, as they help their mother with the daily chores, enjoy their father's stories and singing, and share special occasions when they get together with relatives or neighbors.


(2438 ratings; 4.1)

User reviews

LibraryThing member jrbeach
I first read the series in the late 1950's, and just recently re-read it. As an adult, I'm even more amazed by how difficult and precarious pioneering life was. I think the books are well written - not overly dramatic or sentimental. And since reading the giant book of elves and faries I've always
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been drawn to anything illustrated by Garth Williams
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LibraryThing member suzecate
Little House in the Big Woods, the first literary entry in Laura Ingalls Wilder's life, takes place during a year in the author's childhood in rural Wisconsin. The book reads better as a juvenile memoir than a novel; however, the simplicity of the narrative is well-suited to a view of pioneer life
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through a child's eyes.

Several chapters overflow with moral didacticism, especially within the stories told by Laura's Pa, Charles Ingalls extolling filial obedience, Sabbath decorum, and honesty in action as well as word. Some modern readers will take issue with the beating of children (that was hard for me to read), but Pa is presented by Laura as a gentler parent than his contemporaries and one who would rather impart "lessons" through stories.

If you liked this, check out Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink (also set in 19th-century rural Wisconsin), which I found to be better-written with a more interesting heroine.
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LibraryThing member AnnieHidalgo
The older I get, the more it seems to me that Laura Ingalls Wilder's books are a perfect example of how different life can seem from a child's perspective to that of an adult. I've always thought they were kind of an idealized example of the perfect childhood - simple, close to nature, structured
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yet still fun. And yet, how frustrated Ma must have been - she moves into the wilderness, when it seems like family and civilization are very important to her. They live in tiny cabins, in danger from bears and other wild animals...have a dirt floor at one point...her husband is the type of man who goes off to shoot some meat for the starving family, then avoids taking the shot at the last minute because he admired the wildlife and was too busy watching it... but the family does seem happy, despite this. More than anything, I guess, Wilder's books are an object lesson in the truism that life is what you make of it.
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LibraryThing member The_Hibernator
This is the first story of Larua as a 4-year old in a log cabin in the woods of Wisconsin. I've never read any of these books before, and honestly I can't even say whether I ever watched the TV show. So I didn't know quite what to expect. Whatever I expected, this wasn't it. This book is written
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with a slice-of-life narrative with no plot and very little dialog - it was kind of a passive story...or perhaps a string of memories/anecdotes that are connected in approximate chronological order.

Not that I'm saying I disliked it. It was really cute and a really quick read. I'm definitely going to continue with the rest of them. I'm also not entirely sure why this is considered a Christmas book. Yes, Christmas was included in the time-line, but it was about an entire year living in the little log cabin in the woods. I think the cutest part of the book was when Laura and her mother went out to milk the cow at night and mistook a bear for the cow. :) Laura's corn-cob doll was also pretty adorable.

I think it's interesting how many people care about whether this story was truly factual. I mean, of course it's not fully factual - apparently Laura was younger when she lived on the Prairie than when she lived in the woods in Wisconsin, but she switched the timeline around. I'm sure some of the memories she mentions are also not fully factual, but that's how family anecdotes are - they change with time and audience. This isn't an autobiography, this is a string of anecdotes for children.
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LibraryThing member skeeterbo
I liked it because the dad hunts, hunts, hunts some more! It was cool you could make a balloon out of something from a pig.
LibraryThing member john257hopper
I read this book and several of it successors as a child in the 1970s, but it is nice to re-read them as an adult with a different perspective. It is a perspective on a lifestyle very different from anything we have experienced, where Laura and her sisters, Pa and Ma live in the log house in the
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middle of nowhere, with very few interactions beyond occasional visits to and from various uncles, aunts and cousins, living their lives according to the seasons and the dictates of nature, and growing or making most of what they need to live. It provides a welcome contrast and escape from current reality. These editions are beautifully illustrated with the original Garth Williams illustrations.
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LibraryThing member EndsWell
Read this book out loud to my girls makes for a special bedtime ritual. Of course the first night I kept on reading after bedtime and finished it (shh! don't tell), but re-reading it is part of the fun.
LibraryThing member ovistine
I've read the Little House series many times over the years, and I was going to say that this is my first time listening to it, but it's not -- my dad read me the series when I was too little to remember him doing it. :) At any rate, this is an oustanding edition of "Little House in the Big Woods",
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read by Cherry Jones. It's unabridged, and Jones's narration is excellent. She even sings Pa's songs (there's a fiddle player to go with her), and she has a great voice for it! As for the book itself, it's the story of a little girl in the pioneer days (late 1800s) of the United States. When we first meet Laura and her family, they live in a little house in the big woods of Wisconsin. This book is particularly memorable for Laura's description of pig-butchering. One of the things I love about this series is that the way things were done is told so matter-of-factly that it seems quite reasonable that people could do them -- the fact that they have to live only off what Pa can catch or gather, that Pa builds all his own furniture, and that Ma manages to cook and make delicious foods with what little they have is astonishing by today's standards, but is the only way of life Laura's ever known. Every time I read this series, I want to go back and try being a pioneer myself. :) That said, I'm not giving up my microwave anytime soon! One caution: I was listening to this and -- well, there's a song in it that seems like something that came out of the pre-Civil War South. o_O I was rather boggled and couldn't believe it was in there and I'd never noticed it before (the last time I read this book was 2003 or so, so it's not like I have much excuse), but holy crap. (Maybe it was excised from my edition at the time; it was one of the newer ones.)
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LibraryThing member bratlaw
A book by a favorite author. I've reread this series so many times, the books are becoming very worn. Laura and her family, Pa, Ma, Mary, and baby Carrie live in the big words of Wisconsin near Pepin. Laura"s unique style of story telling is appealing to all ages.
LibraryThing member megadallion
Unfortunately, I didn't read this as a little girl. I really wish I had though because it was amazing. I can't believe I learned so much from a children's book - everything from how pioneers had to make houses and furniture to how they concocted cheese and candy. This gives an intimate view of what
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it was like to grow up in the pioneering days from the vantage point of a little girl, Laura. I'm looking forward to finishing the series.
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LibraryThing member DebbieMcCauley
Book 1 of 9 of The Little House Series. I must confess to never having read the ‘Little House’ books, only watching the television series when I was young. When I saw them in the ‘Waldorf Students Reading Guide’ I decided that it really was time to read the series and to my delight
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discovered that the Tauranga Library (where I work part-time as well as the Tauranga Rudolf Steiner School Library) had just purchased a set of the nine books with Garth Williams illustrations in colour. They are so appealing and inviting looking that I have ordered the entire set for the school library. Upon reading this book, I was struck by how much better it was than the television series. Laura Ingalls Wilder’s vivid descriptions of everyday pioneering life with Father, Mother, older sister Mary and baby sister Carrie, are so intriguing and different to how we live now. She conjures up the feelings of safety inside the solid log walls with Father’s gun and Jack the brindle bulldog on guard when wolves are howling outside. And we realise just how much work had to be done to prepare for survival through the bitterly cold winter to come. Its a great how to manual on pioneering life and covers such things as smoking venison, making cheese, making lead bullets, cleaning a gun, collecting and making maple sugar, threshing wheat, and what to do if you slap a bear by accident in the dark. ‘Much of the fascination of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s true stories of American pioneering life in the late nineteenth century resides in their accurate account of how things were made and managed’ (Saxby & Winch, 1994, p. 166). Good and respectful manners are always reinforced and the girls are always helping, ‘There was a great deal for Ma to do, and Laura and Mary helped her’ (Wilder, 2004, p. 17). But the whimsical images conjured up by the description of a simpler life, baking bread, churning butter, a sense of home, family and community are unbeatable. I just love this book and wish that I had discovered it twenty-five years ago!
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LibraryThing member punxsygal
A delightful re-read of the first of Ms. Wilder's series. I enjoyed the descriptions of all the work that was done-how to clean a gun, making cheese, cooking pumpkin, etc.
LibraryThing member mrsarey
This is the first story of Laura Ingalls and her family. It is a simple story of life in the Big Woods, from the way they get food to how they celebrate occasions.
LibraryThing member Crewman_Number_6
Of course this was a childhood favorite. I would dream about living in "Pioneer Days." I have read this series many times, and I think I appreciate it even more as an adult. I find it a very accurate and interesting portrayal of family life during that time period.
LibraryThing member hlselz
This book was REALLY good. Talks about Laura Ingalls Wilder's childhood growing up in the forest of Wisconsin. I loved reading about the simple pleasures her and her family enjoyed. Listening to music, getting candy, and playing outside in the snow where all joyful occasions. I also enjoy reading
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about how the family made their food, clothing, and other household items. Will read more of this series.
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LibraryThing member TrixieWang2005
One upon a time in the 1870’s, a little girl named Laura Ingalls lived in a log house in Wisconsin. She was the second oldest child in a family of five.
Little House in the Big Woods is a great novel to start you off on a series of adventures and romances. This book is number one in the Little
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House on the Prairie series.
It is all about a young girl living in the woods. She is miles away from any town and her family has to make and celebrate things on their own.
I enjoy Laura Ingalls Wilder’s writing because it is true about her life and she makes you feel as if you were living with her in that cozy little home, and this part of the book makes me feel that way: “The attic was a lovely place to play…Often the wind howled outside with a cold and lonesome sound. But in the attic Laura and Mary played house with the squashes and the pumpkins, and everything was snug and cozy.”
If you love reading about pioneering, read Little House in the Big Woods and the rest of the Little House on the Prairie series.
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LibraryThing member wordygirl39
When I was six, I started readng them. I am 39 and I'm still reading them. Laura's stories are far from being "children's literature"--a couple of years ago I read them all again from start to finish and I was so struck by the all the things Laura implies but never explicitly says: like, that her
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family's relationship with Charles (Pa) was much more complex and probably conflicted. Kids won't pick up on it--they'll read for other things. But, there's real darkness to these usually sentimentalized stories. Laura's family endured a lot of sorrow and her account of that pain is less sentimental than it is an attempt of a private woman to keep hidden as well she could the depression in her family.
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LibraryThing member jakea
This book is good for boys and girls, because of horses, one machine, and cows. Laura is a little girl, not as big as Mary. You absolutely have to read this book for yourself. Jake, age 9
LibraryThing member ddailey
Just as sweet and endearing as I remembered it from early childhood.
LibraryThing member seoulful
It is my pleasure to begin this series for the third time with another grandchild. This first story of the Ingalls family, living in the woods of Wisconsin, starts a saga of pioneer life in the late 1860s. There are wonderful descriptions of life on the farm accompanied by Garth Williams
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illustrations showing, for present day audiences, the old procedures for activities such as making maple syrup, greasing traps or threshing wheat. The Ingalls family is an example in showing the hard work, discipline and skills that were necessary to survive the rigors of isolated country life. A memoir of Laura Ingalls, this true-life story is probably the best-loved and most popular pioneer story for young adults.
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LibraryThing member LibraryLover23
Wonderful children's story about a young girl growing up in the woods of Wisconsin with her family. This is the true story of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her experiences growing up in the late 1800s. Great descriptions of everyday life, from Pa cleaning his rifle to Ma churning butter. Although it is
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a children's story and easy to read, it's still recommended for anyone, regardless of age, if only for a glimpse of life from another time.
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LibraryThing member selfcallednowhere
I only read through half of the Little House books with my mom when I was a kid, but I loved the ones we read, so I figured I should finally get around to reading through the whole series properly. This one was just as wonderful as I remembered, with so many details you really feel right back there
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with Laura. It made me want to write historical fiction set in the period.
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LibraryThing member ds119933
Little House in the Big Woods is about a pioneer family, the Ingalls, who live in the Big Woods in Wisconsin. The family consists of a Pa, Ma, and three little girls, Mary, Laura, and baby Carrie. It gives a narrative of activities and chores that were performed each day. There are also days that
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were set aside for making cheese or curing meat. This book is chalked full of memories that Laura has remembered, with a little embellishment.

I remember reading all of the books in the Little House series. In fact, this assignment has given me the chance to reread them all! I think that kids today are really spoiled and do not realize how little people had back in the “old” days. I enjoy reading the stories in the book(s) about Christmas time. How just little things meant the world to these girls, like when Laura received a rag doll and a pair of red mittens at Christmas. I could go on and on about this but I won’t. 

As extensions to this book, students would make a Venn diagram and compare themselves to Laura or their father or mother to Laura’s Pa or Ma. This will show the simultaneities and differences in the characters in the book to someone they know. One day after reading the chapter about when the family made butter and cheese, the students would make their own butter. This would be done in a group so each student will have a turn. We would then enjoy the product on fresh bread. This would be a great time to invite the Principal or even parents to share in this wonderful treat. Also a timeline or map could be made from Laura’s life and journeys.
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LibraryThing member tjsjohanna
I started reading this series to my kids this year. I had forgotten how many details Ms. Wilder includes about day-to-day living during pioneer times. I wish my kids were as well behaved as the Ingalls kids! By the way, my kids are fascinated by the daily life details.
LibraryThing member auntieknickers
A fine beginning to the Little House stories, written at a 5 or 6 year old's reading/understanding level.


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Physical description

7.75 inches


0064400018 / 9780064400015
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