The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder

The Long WinterI like to reread The Long Winter in January or February – after the holidays and during that long stretch when winter feels most cold and bleak to me. It tells the story of how Laura Ingalls and her family survived the harsh winter of 1880-81, enduring seven months of near constant blizzards in their little house in town in the Dakota Territory. Through this winter, the Ingalls family is together but cut off from all supplies (the trains can’t run) and often even cut off from their neighbors living yards away. The Long Winter tells of stories that I cannot even imagine; like how, when the first blizzard hits, Laura and her classmates must leave the schoolhouse and make their way home not a mile away, yet all the while the threat of being lost out on the prairie is imminent, for they cannot see in front of them and apart from their little prairie town there is nothing for miles and miles. It tells of the kind of resourcefulness Laura’s family displays, making kindling out of twisted bunches of hay when there is no firewood to be had. And it tells of how Laura’s family manages to create moments of joy throughout the dark months, making a pie out of green pumpkins and celebrating a festive Christmas with what little food and treats they have, song, and stories.

I love this book because I am inspired and comforted by the way Laura’s family never compromise their love for each other or their dignity during some of the harshest circumstances, and I always close the book with new resolve to meet life with courage and joy. And as with all of the Little House books, I relish in the details of a way of life so different from my own – so that if the need should ever arise, I now know to make a lamp with a button, a little grease, and a bit of cloth.

Recommended as a family read-aloud, preferably by the fireside of a cold winter’s evening.

Posted by: Parry

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