In The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales, child psychologist Bruno Bettelheim describes both the characteristics and the purpose of great children’s literature:
Laura Ingalls Wilder’s series of Little House books have held the attention, enriched the lives, and stimulated the imaginations of children for nearly a century. In all of American literature, only a handful of charactersHuck, Jo, Holden, Dorothy, and Laura, the eponymous heroine of Wilder’s novels-can claim such an intimate, first-name hold on millions of readers over multiple generations. Little House in the Big Woods, which debuted in 1932, has never been out of print. It has been translated into dozens of languages, including Hebrew, Farsi, and Japanese. Wilder’s work launched Ronald Reagan’s favorite television series, created a cottage tourist industry, generated reams of biographical and critical analysis, produced countless commercial spinoffs, and even renamed highways across the Midwest.