A Little Happier: Laura Ingalls Wilder, and We Can Admit that the People We Love Aren’t Perfect.

I’m a huge fan of children’s literature. I’m in three children’s literature reading groups, and I read that literature all the time.

So naturally one of my favorite writers is Laura Ingalls Wilder. Her Little House books are masterpieces.

The passage I read can be found in The Selected Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder, in a letter from Laura Ingalls Wilder to Rose Wilder Lane, March 23, 1937:

You can see that all of this cost money. I would have no idea how much. I know Pa sent money home for doctor bills after he was working for the railroad. But Pa was no businessman, He was a hunter and trapper, a musician and poet.

Such a moving tribute to Pa — a wonderful, wonderful father.

If  you’d like to discover some great children’s literature, here’s a list of just a few of my favorites.

What are some of your favorite children’s books? I’m always looking for new suggestions.

Want to get in touch? I love hearing from listeners:


Happier listening!


    I love the Laura Ingalls Wilder books! Pa has always been one of my heroes. I really appreciate that she honors her parents without sugar coating the hard times their family went through.

  • Ameliateca

    The Lion’s Paw by Robb White. Read aloud by my (and I reckon, hundreds of other) fourth grade teacher when I was growing up in South Florida. Now that it has finally been reprinted, it is one of my go to book gifts for children.

    Encyclopedia Brown by Donald Sobol, the beginning of my love for detective novels.

    • Lisa Y

      I loved Encyclopedia Brown books when I was a kid and now my eight-year-old loves them too. They’re timeless fun!

  • Linda Johnson

    Freddy the Pig series by Walter Brooks. Freddy and his animal friends are smart, kind, and often wise. These were the first “real” books I ever read and I’m enjoying them again now on a kindle.

    • My son and I love the Freddie the Pig books. Glad others do too.

  • Lee Toth

    Would you consider making a list?

  • Julina S

    I have (slowly) been working on getting through the Newbery Award list – just the winners for now. I started with the first one (“The Story of Mankind”) and have made it to the late 90’s, I think – I haven’t come across a loser yet!!

    Like your list back from back in 2011, it spans a variety of genres and styles and appropriate ages. It’s interesting how multicultural many of the early winners are.
    Some of them can be hard to come by, but that’s what libraries (and interlibrary loan) are for.
    I also enjoyed (OK, was a little obsessed at the time) Marguerite Henry’s books in elementary school (her “King of the Wind” was one of the Newbery winners, incidentally…), and in junior high discovered L.M. Montgomery (of “Anne of Green Gables” fame, though my favorite is “The Blue Castle” – a Canadian, so not eligible for Newbery, but a classic nevertheless). Also on the list – William Sleator (sci-fi like “House of Stairs” & “Interstellar Pig”), Lois Lowry (a double Newbery winner for “Number the Stars” and “The Giver”), and Lloyd Alexander (The Prydain Chronicles – of which the last, “The High King”, was a Newbery winner – and the Vesper Holly novels).
    More recent favorites have been Margaret Peterson Haddix (“Just Ella” and The Shadow Children series), Gail Carson Levine (“Ella Enchanted” and the follow-up, “Fairest”), Susan Cooper (“The Dark Is Rising Sequence”, which includes, you guessed it, a Newbery winner), Terry Pratchett (specifically, “The Wee Free Men” and the Johnny Maxwell trilogy), Brandon Sanderson (“Alcatraz vs The Evil Librarians”), and Salman Rushdie’s “children’s” novels, “Haroun and the Sea of Stories” and “Luka and the Fire of Life”. Fair warning, though, those last 2 authors’ children’s books require a high tolerance for word play.
    In case you couldn’t tell, I am also a BIG fan of children’s and young adult literature.
    So have fun and thanks for asking!!

  • Mimi Gregor

    I’ve never seen the series, but I have read that, although they kept major plot points from the book, they were radically different. It stands to reason: books and TV/movies require totally different pacing, and should be treated as entirely different stories. I recommend reading the books. I reread them once in a while just to immerse myself in those simpler times.

  • Mimi Gregor

    It’s more of a YA series than kiddie lit, but Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs held me captive recently. The author collects old photos (most of which are truly bizarre) and writes the story around them, using them to illustrate the book. I’ve also read his sequel, The Hollow City, and there is a third book in the works. The first book is being released as a movie this year, or so I’ve heard.

  • Ashley T (Yuuki)

    The Search for Wondla is a beautiful and intriguing book by Tony DiTerlizzi – the illustrations are stunning! the first book is a little slow, but the second gets more interesting 🙂

  • I’m partial to children’s fantasy, and one that I fell head-over-heels in love with recently was “The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making” by Catherynne M. Valente. It’s beautiful and empowering and such fun!

  • Delta456

    Have you read “A Wilder Rose” by Susan Wittig Albert? A very interesting look at the writing of the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane.

  • Vanessa

    Esperanza Rising… A truly wonderful book

  • Heather T

    I recently read a newer book, Greenglass House by Kate Milford. Recommended!

  • Ralph Moody series of Little Britches. Anne of Green Gable Series. And of course Laura Ingalls series.

  • Linda

    “A Wrinkle in Time”, by Madeline L Engle

  • I love Laura Ingalls Wilder, Anne of Green Gables, Waltons, Dear America series, Downton Abbey, and the Christy series…my faves. <3

  • Anita

    The Secret Garden, Mandy (Written by none other than Julie Andrews!), the Railway children.