Little House on the Prairie Summary 📖

‘Little House on the Prairie’ is part of the Little House series and the best-known of the many books. It describes what happens as the Ingalls family seeks out a new home in Kansas.

Little House on the Prairie

Laura Ingalls Wilder

Little House on the Prairie‘ is divided into twenty-five chapters and is over 300 pages long. The novel includes illustrations by Garth Williams. The book starts out with the family leaving their home and facing all the threats one might expect from the landscape. 

Spoiler-Free Summary

Little House on the Prairie‘ by Laura Ingalls Wilder is a beloved classic tale of frontier life. The story follows the Ingalls family, Papa, Ma, Mary, and Laura, as they travel to Kansas with the hope of building a home there. They struggle to make the journey, and when they get there, Pa works for months to build them a house. Even still, not all is well, and the family deals with threats from nature and surrounding Native American tribes. 

Plot Summary of Little House on the Prairie

Spoiler alert: important details of the novel are revealed below.

Little House on the Prairie is the third book in the “Little House” series. The book was published in 1935 and followed ‘Little House in the Big Woods and ‘Farmer Boy. It’s one of the earliest books that honestly depicts some struggles the family endures rather than taking a more idealistic approach to life. The novel begins with:

A long time ago, when all the grandfathers and grandmothers of today were little boys and little girls or very small babies, or perhaps not even born, Pa and Ma and Mary and Laura and Baby Carrie left their little house in the Big Woods of Wisconsin.

The novel follows the Ingalls family as they travel on the Kansas prairie with the hope of finding land to settle on that’s far from the “many people” in the Big Woods. This is emphasized by the fact that Laura could hear the sound of other people who weren’t her father, like the “echo of a shot that did not come from his gun.” There was also a lack of animals due to the number of people, something that made life much harder.

They traveled from the Big Woods in the winter when there was “thing snow o the ground” and the “air was still and cold and dark.” They make it across the Mississippi and a long way through the country to “Indian Territory.” The horses traveled are far as they could every day, emphasizing how truly taxing the trip was. The landscape stayed the same for a long time before they traded their horses for black mustangs. Their dog, Jack, is swept down a river in Chapter Two when they try to cross a creek. Jack turns up later that night when the family fears there are wolves in the area. 

They choose a spot to build their home along the creek, and Pa starts hauling logs to build the house. They get the house built with wolves proving to be a threat. 

Pa helps a neighbor build his home and lays a fireplace. Family life goes on like normal for a while. Pa starts digging a well and trades off work with another neighbor. They use a candle to check for poisonous gas until Mr. Scott decides not to and goes down into the well, losing consciousness. Pa helps him out of the well. 

Pa decides that, in the fall, he needs to travel to Independence to get supplies. During winter, the family celebrates Christmas with simple items and spends much of their time indoors. In spring, the threat from the Native Americans intensifies. 

Soon after, they learn that they’ve built their home three miles into Indian territory, and the government is not going to grant them land. They have to pack up and load, traveling north towards Independence. They travel along the creek before meeting up with a couple who has had their horses stolen. They stop for the night at a burned house and set up camp. The girls fall asleep while Pa plays the fiddle, and the novel ends. 


What is the moral of Little House on the Prairie?

The moral of ‘Little House on the Prairie is that family needs to stick together, no matter what. As they fight off the many issues they contend with in Kansas, and on the way there, the family sticks together and is able to survive. 

What is the theme of Little House on the Prairie?

The theme of the novel is perseverance in the face of conflict and danger. The Ingalls family deals with a lot but manages to get through it all and stay together. 

Why is Little House on the Prairie important?

Little House on the Prairie ‘is important because of its high relatability, even though it describes a physical setting and situations that most contemporary readers are never going to experience. 

Emma Baldwin
About Emma Baldwin
Emma graduated from East Carolina University with a BA in English, minor in Creative Writing, BFA in Fine Art, and BA in Art Histories. Literature is one of her greatest passions which she pursues on Book Analysis.
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