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Is Laura Ingalls Wilder Different in The First Four Years?

Little House fans, both young and old, are often surprised at the final book in Laura Ingalls Wilder's series, The First Four Years. It's different than the first eight Little House books.

Laura, the main character, seems dramatically different at the beginning of The First Four Years than she did during These Happy Golden Years. With Laura’s changes, the tone—or feeling—of the story changes, too. Compare the two stories...

These Happy Golden Years: Laura is optimistic in These Happy Golden Years. She trusts Almanzo, especially as a farmer and horseman. In earlier Little House books Laura was happy to help Pa with farm work. Ma might have preferred that Laura not work in the fields. Yet, Laura helped care for the animals and worked in the fields during harvest when she didn't have to.

The First Four Years: In the opening pages, the character named Laura in The First Four Years said she didn’t want to marry a farmer. She was concerned about the hard work of farming and lack of financial stability. (There's more later, but this is a start.)

In an earlier blog post, I explained why The First Four Years is so different than the other Little House books. I want to remind readers that The First Four Years wasn’t written as part of the Little House series. It was a new story. Like the other books, it was somewhat fictionalized.

We don’t know if Laura Ingalls Wilder changed the main character’s view and tone for something her adult readers would like or if it reflected her personal experience and feelings.

Happy Trails!
~ Annette

Annette Whipple is a nonfiction children's author. Learn more about her books and presentations at

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