chapter  10
Our Home on Native Land: Adapting and Readapting Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie: Benjamin Lefebvre
ByBENJAMIN LEFEBVRE
Pages 22

Thirty years ago, my parents bought the “Complete Set of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House Books” for my older sister. She handed these books down to me after she outgrew them, and I have been reading and rereading them ever since. From Little House in the Big Woods (1932) and Little House on the Prairie (1935) through to These Happy Golden Years (1943) and the posthumous sequel The First Four Years (1971), the nine books that fi ctionalize Wilder’s childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood within the American settler culture of the postCivil War period have given me a reading pleasure that I experienced from few other childhood books. As a French Canadian boy growing up in the 1980s, I had nothing in common with the fi ctional Laura Ingalls in terms of nation, gender, politics, or historical moment, nor did I possess any ancillary knowledge of the places, communities, and events that Wilder’s books describe: isolated living in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, the tensions of settler-Native encounter in the “Indian Territory” of the Midwest, grasshopper plagues in western Minnesota, and community formation in De Smet, South Dakota. But I still have that boxed set: although it wasn’t intended for me, it soon became and has remained one of my most valued possessions from childhood.