Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867-1957) wrote a series of children’s books which were inspired by her own childhood experiences growing up in a pioneering family and they have sold millions of copies around the world.
The first book Little House in the Big Woods was published in 1932 concentrates on Laura’s early childhood in the Big Woods of Wisconsin in the 1870s and is intentionally light in tone. As the series progressed and the character of Laura grew older, the themes grew darker as the Ingalls family faced many adversities. The second book, Farmer Boy, was published a year later and it concentrates on a particular year in the life of Laura’s husband, Almanzo Wilder. A further six books were published during Wilder’s lifetime: Little House on the Prairie (1935), On the Banks of Plum Creek (1937), By the Shores of Silver Lake (1939), The Long Winter (1940), Little Town on the Prairie (1941), and These Happy Golden Years (1943).
After Wilder’s death, a ninth book, The First Four Years (1971) was published and it tells the story of the early years of Laura and Almanzo’s marriage, however the manuscript was less polished than the others as it had been previously abandoned.
As the original books of Laura Ingalls Wilder continue to appeal to each new generation, a few authors have been inspired to flesh out the other characters in her stories. While most of these books have been aimed at the children’s market like Laura’s own books, there have also been a few written for adults.
The Rose Years
The Rose Years are a series of eight children’s books written by Roger Lea MacBride and were based on the life of Laura’s daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, who became an author in her own right. As heir to the estate of Rose Wilder Lane who had no children of her own, MacBride became the guardian of the Little House book series and was the first to produce a series of sequels. The Rose Years are based on the stories Lane told MacBride about her childhood on Rocky Ridge Farm.
- Little House on Rocky Ridge (1993)
- Little Farm on the Ozarks (1994)
- In the Land of the Big Red Apple (1995)
- On the Other Side of the Hill (1995)
- Little Town in the Ozarks (1996)
- New Dawn on Rocky Ridge (1997)
- On the Banks of the Bayou (1998)
- Bachelor Girl (1999)
The Martha Years
The Martha Years are a series of four children’s books written by Melissa Wiley based on the life of Laura’s maternal great-grandmother, Martha Morse, who originally came from Scotland. Starting in 1788, six-year-old Martha lives in a stone house in the Glencaraid where her father is the laird and the subsequent books follow Martha’s adventures as she grows up in the Highlands. The books are out of print and hard to find.
- Little House in the Highlands (1999)
- The Far Side of the Loch (2000)
- Down to the Bonny Glen (2001)
- Beyond the Heather Hills (2003)
The Charlotte Years
The Charlotte Years are a series of four children’s books written by Melissa Wiley based on the life of Laura’s grandmother, Charlotte Tucker, the daughter or Martha Morse who emigrated to the United States and married Lewis Tucker in 1799. Charlotte lives in Roxbury, near Boston, and the books follow her family as they live through the War of 1812 and the British blockade of Boston Harbor. The books are out of print and hard to find.
- Little House by Boston Bay (1999)
- On Tide Mill Lane (2001)
- The Road from Roxbury (2002)
- Across the Puddingstone Dam (2004)
The Caroline Years
The Caroline Years are a series of seven children’s books based on the life of Laura’s mother, Caroline Quiner, who grew up in the little town of Brookfield, Wisconsin, near the banks of Lake Michigan. The first four books, written by Maria D Wilkes, focus on Caroline’s early years in Brookfield about a year after the death of her father. The latter three books, written by Celia Wilkins, are set in Concord, Wisconsin, where Caroline first meets Charles Ingalls and dreams of being a teacher.
- Little House in Brookfield (1996)
- Little Town at the Crossroads (1997)
- Little Clearing in the Woods (1998)
- On Top of Concord Hill (2000)
- Across the Rolling River (2001)
- Little City by the Lake (2003)
- A. Little House of Their Own (2005)
Old Town in the Green Groves (2002)
Old Town in the Green Groves: Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Lost Little House Years is a children’s novel by Cynthia Rylant which focuses on the two year gap between On the Banks of Plum Creek and By the Shores of Silver Lake when the Ingalls family were running a hotel in Burr, Iowa. There has been much speculation as to why Laura Ingalls Wilder chose to leave out this period in her life but these were particularly painful years for the Ingalls family with the death of her baby brother Charles Frederick Ingalls. Reception to this book has been mixed as a result of the baby’s death being included as many fans feel it was a violation of privacy since Laura herself chose not to focus on it.
Mary Ingalls on Her Own (2008)
Mary Ingalls on Her Own is a young adult novel by Elizabeth Kimmel Willard which focuses on Laura’s older sister, Mary Ingalls, as she attends the Iowa College for the Blind and has to learn how to live independently. Out of print.
Farmer Boy Goes West (2012)
Farmer Boy Goes West is a children’s novel by Heather Williams which focuses on Laura’s husband Almanzo Wilder and is a sequel to Farmer Boy. The Wilder family move from their home in New York and settle in Spring Valley, Minnesota, however Almanzo yearns for the farm they left behind and struggles to settle in the town.
A Wilder Rose (2015)
A Wilder Rose by Susan Witting Albert is a fictional account of the mother-daughter relationship between Rose Wilder Lane and Laura Ingalls Wilder. The book is controversial as it supports the theory Rose was the real writer behind the Little House series and maintains Rose’s involvement was a long held secret.
Caroline: Little House Revisited (2017)
Caroline: Little House Revisited by Sarah Miller retells the Little House story from the point of view of Caroline Ingalls as the family moves away from the their little house in the Big Woods for a new life in Kansas. The journey is an emotional one for Caroline as she is pregnant with her third child and full of worries about what the future holds but is determined to meet it with her usual strength.