Little House on the Prairie

(Critical Guide to Censorship and Literature)

The Work

Little House on the Prairie is one of a series of books that Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about her own experiences as a child growing up on the Kansas prairie in the late nineteenth century. The family settles there in 1870 and proceeds to build a homestead, break sod, and plant crops, only to learn that their new, hard-earned home is actually on land belonging to the Osage tribe. The Ingalls return to Wisconsin before they are removed from their land by force.

This children’s classic continues to appear on banned book lists because of Native American objections to its themes and language. It focuses on the hardships endured by the pioneer family and ignores the sufferings of Native Americans. In addition, it contains such expressions as “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.”

A television series of the same name was broadcast from 1974 to 1983. Its characters and plots were adapted from Wilder’s books. The book regained popularity because of the television series; not surprisingly, its resurgence caused renewed complaints. In 1993, for example, Little House on the Prairie was banned in Thibodaux, Louisiana, and in 1994 it made the banned-book list in Sturgis, South Dakota.


Anderson, William. Laura Ingalls Wilder Country. New York: HarperPerennial, 1990. An illustrated history of Laura Ingalls Wilder, covering family history, the settings...

(The entire section is 542 words.)