Life Lessons Learned From Laura Ingalls Wilder

Posted by Jenn Lawrence

This month we celebrate the birthday of author Laura Ingalls Wilder, an author whose books about pioneer life inspired generations of young girls.

As a young girl, I clearly recall receiving the boxed-set of the Little House books as a gift from my parents. I devoured the series within a matter of days, revisiting the series several times throughout my life. A reader at an early age, it wasn’t uncommon for me to devour a stack of books a week. Yet there was something about the Little House books that resonated within me, life lessons that remained with me throughout my teens and into my adult years.

Following are those life lessons.

Self-reliance: Simply put, do not rely on others to get things done or to seek out your wishes and desires. Only you are responsible for where life takes you.
Perseverance: When life gets difficult, don’t use the emergency exit. Keep holding on. If the Ingalls family would have caved to every test or obstacle in their way they would have never survived life on the prarie.
Hardship builds character: I admit it, when I heard my parents or an elder used these words, I would roll my eyes. Seriously!? Yet each time I reflected on the life led by the Ingalls family, I saw how each character was transformed by the situations life dealt them.
Adversity = Reality: Life isn’t easy. It is nearly impossible to get on one’s life without facing some difficulty. Rather than dwelling on that difficulty, get over it. Overcome it. Learn from it. The Ingalls family was dealt a tremendous amount of hardships, from drought to sickness and death. Instead of giving up, they grew stronger.
The Power of Women!: The one thing I cherish the Little House series for showing me is the strength and independence of women. I was born in the late 70s so I didn’t have to confront many of the struggles faced by women before me, but the tremendous strength, both physical and emotional, the Ingalls women showed proved to me that I really could do anything. I was just as strong as any boy my age, I could do anything I wanted. My gender could not hold me back from achieving my dreams.
Modern Life is Easy!: Have mercy! How many of us complained about doing chores as a child? I’m not talking particularly strenuous chores, but tasks such as cleaning one’s room, doing the dishes, etc.
The children in the Little House books works from dawn to dusk most days doing strenuous tasks like milking cows and toting water from the well. I didn’t want to admit it, but I learned early on that the menial chores I was required to do was nothing compared to what the Ingalls children did on a daily basis, without complaining.
Twenty years after reading the incredibly rewarding Little House series, these life lessons continue to resonate within me. As we celebrate Laura Ingalls Wilder’s birthday, take a moment to reflect on the Ingalls family and the lessons their struggles imparted in us all.

Jenn is a working mom who has mastered the art of balancing family life and her obsessive reading habit. Find her on twitter (@jennbookshelves) or over on her blog,