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A Prairie Faith Book Review and Giveaway

Some might wonder how any writer could provide new insight to Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Little House books in 2024. So much has been said, but there's still more to be written in my opinion.  

But that's just what John J. Fry has done. His new book, A Prairie Faith: The Religious Life of Laura Ingalls Wilder releases February 6. 

This book examines the religious faith of Laura Ingalls Wilder. It's not the first either. But it is fresh, and it is deep. 

And I think we can all acknowledge that faith is a personal thing. It's between a person and God when we are discussing Christian faith, as we are here. But with the Little House books, I'm curious.

Laura Ingalls Wilder sprinkled faith-related topics through the Little House books. It always seemed to me that Christian faith was part of Wilder's life, but I wanted to know more, especially because Wilder did not write all faith-related ideas in a positive light in her books.

A Prairie Faith: The Religious Life of Laura Ingalls Wilder answers many of my questions. John J. Fry came to some conclusions I had also come to. I appreciate John's dedication to the study of Wilder and her faith in particular. 

And what a task! With Wilder keeping her faith rather private, John couldn't examine expansive thoughts found in diaries. But he did examine her life and actions--thoroughly. 

Without giving too much away, I will share that John J. Fry came to the conclusion that Laura Ingalls Wilder's faith was important but not central to her life. This is said in the foreword and throughout the book so I don't consider it a spoiler. Each chapter reinforces this idea through detailed research. We know that prayer and Bible reading were important to her throughout her life.

Unfortunately, we can't know the motivation behind some of Laura Ingalls Wilder's behaviors as related to faith matters. I feel that "issue" makes the study of some of a person's life a bit complex for us as readers. For example, Wilder didn't attend church services when traveling. (I don't recall if there are exceptions to this, but she was quite consistent.) 

I know only a handful of families who attend church while on vacation. From my own personal experience as a Christian, I haven't attended church services while traveling except when they were incorporated in the travel, such as when my family attended a church camp for about ten years as a family or when friends/family we visit overnight attend church. Recently I was with friends for a weekend writing retreat. We didn't attend a formal church service, but one person planned a message to share as well as worship music for Sunday. 

However, I understand John J. Fry's need to research, document, and evaluate all possible areas of Laura Ingalls Wilder's religious life and faith. He did this mostly through travel diaries, letters, interviews, and original manuscripts. His dedication to looking at Laura Ingalls Wilder as a whole person is evident. He was thorough.

This Laura Ingalls Wilder biography was a delight to read. I appreciate and recommend A Prairie Faith: The Religious Life of Laura Ingalls Wilder by John J. Fry. 

I'm grateful that Eerdmans Publishing is giving away one copy to a Wilder Companion reader. 

This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Stacey!

You have many ways to enter. Leave a comment for each entry. Include your email address at least once in case you win.
1. Subscribe (and confirm subscription) to,, and/or my newsletter. Leave a comment telling me you subscribed. Subscribe at Look around the blogs! (1 entry total)
2. Subscribe (and confirm subscription) to John J. Fry's blog. Look around! (1 entry)
3. Purchase my book The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion. Leave a comment telling the store or site where you purchased it. (1 entry)
4. Purchase/pre-order A Prairie Faith. Leave a comment telling the store or site where you purchased it. (1 entry) 


If you know someone who would appreciate this giveaway, please tell them about it!
The winner must live in North America and respond to my email within 48 hours or I will choose a new winner. Giveaway ends 11:59 pm on February 4, 2024.

Thanks so much for reading and entering this book giveaway!

Annette Whipple writes nonfiction books for children, including The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion: A Chapter-by-Chapter Guide which includes history, discussion, photographs, and 75 activities so readers can "live like Laura." Learn more about her books and presentations at


  1. I always wondered how often they attended church in Mansfield. I know they attended the Methodist church some but never formally joined any church, which struck me as odd. But I also wonder if that had to with Laura’s extreme frugality, or their poverty. Maybe they didn’t feel like they could afford to tithe.
    I never got the impression that Almanzo was anything more than culturally religious.

    1. Lots to think about even if we don't know their actual hearts!

  2. I completed # 1,2,3 above. I have enjoyed all your newsletters, facebook posts, and your LIW Companion book. I purchased that book from Amazon awhile back and let you know how much I was enjoying it. Susan in NC (susanlulu(at)yahoo(dot)com

  3. Love everything about Laura and her family , Rose ,etc. I will never get tired of learning .

    1. Stacey Smith,

  4. I subscribed to your monthly newsletter!