I stepped into the world of Little House on the Prairie as an 8 year old in a Tennessee library one school day when a kind librarian offered to help me find new books. When she learned I had never read the “little house” books (nor known they existed), she led me to a low shelf where I first glimpsed the colorful covers illustrated by Garth Williams. The pictures were so appealing I could hardly wait to look inside and begin. The librarian smiled. She said I was going to love these books.
As I started reading, I remember being amazed by the librarian’s wisdom—how had she known I was just the type of little girl for whom these books would be just right? Now I know that “Little House” books have been “just right” for countless children generation after generation. My husband loves them every bit as much as I do. He can hardly believe I didn’t learn about them until I was eight! His mother read through the series aloud repeatedly as her seven children grew up; and once married, he and I began to do the same, reading aloud to each other. Now we have a four year old and we are reading the series again. It only grows more wonderful.
In the Spring 2007 issue of a magazine I receive called The Old Schoolhouse there was an interview with Stephen Hines about some newly published collections of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s writings for a Missouri newspaper (written years before she began writing her books for children). I had not known that there had long been unfound writings and that Hines had later searched them out and compiled books of them. I made mental note to look these books up when I had chance (Writings to Young Women series published in 2006). But first I have started with Hines’ Little house in the Ozarks: A Laura Ingalls Wilder Sampler—The Rediscovered Writings (1993).
And I love these essays! I keep thinking that Laura was a woman after my own heart; I have to remind myself that she makes many people feel this way and that I am surely not unique. But it’s hard to fully convince myself! I am inspired and uplifted as I read. I am amazed by how many of her essays seem fresh and nowhere near as dated as they should be. And I wish her commonsense wisdom with deep value held for joys of family life and community and creative work were more widespread with people today.
I hoped to find glimpses of her faith—whatever it was—in these writings; but glimpses is all they are, in my opinion. Either she was too reserved to write in a deeper way of her faith in these public writings or she possessed a different sort of faith than than I hoped to find—one rooted more in a general Christian tradition of her upbringing than one tending toward intense appreciation for Christ as God-man who came to earth and made for Himself a whole new people.