5 ways the Little House on the Prairie books stretched the truth


When you were younger, there was a high chance your parents struggled to get you to read anything that had words on it – let alone a whole children’s book to yourself! Ironically, most of us now crave fifteen minutes alone to catch up on our favorite crime thriller to find out who really dunnit. However, there was one book series in particular that you could read (or have read to you) as a child. Of course, we’re talking about The Little House on the Prairie Books. Written by Laura Wilder about her own family experiences, many take these books as fact rather than fiction. However, it seems as though there were times where Laura stretched the truth for dramatic effect…

The family didn’t always travel west

Nowadays, the Ingalls family and The Little House on the Prairie books are associated with traveling west on the North American continent, and constantly heading further into the woods. Yet, this isn’t exactly true. While they did often travel west, they also traveled back on themselves, as well as around the country in general. When they left the Little House in the Big Woods in Wisconsin, the Ingalls family moved to Kansas where they built their ‘little house on the prairie.’ However, they then moved back to Wisconsin, before moving to Minnesota, then to Iowa, and then they eventually settled in South Dakota.

5 ways the Little House on the Prairie books stretched the truth

Jack didn’t tag along with them

Throughout The Little House on the Prairie Books, Laura’s perfect pooch played a huge part in the Ingalls’ family story – and stuck by them until his peaceful death. Or did he? According to her autobiography, Jack did not follow his family across the country. In fact, he didn’t even leave Kansas. Rather than tagging along with the story, the real Jack was sold by Laura’s father in exchange for ponies and horses. It’s believed that she wrote Jack into the story to give him his own peaceful ending.

Mary didn’t lose her sight to Scarlet Fever

When it comes to the Little House on the Prairie book series, most of us remember the story of Mary Ingalls and how she lost her sight after contracting Scarlet Fever. While we took this as gospel, one medical specialist wasn’t too sure about her diagnosis. Amazingly, Dr. Beth Tarini has noted that Scarlet Fever cannot actually cause someone to go blind. Instead, she believes that the illness that took Mary’s sight was viral meningoencephalitis, but that Laura changed the illness to make the illness more accessible to a wider audience.

The Ingalls weren’t alone

Throughout the book series, it’s believed that the Ingalls struggled as one unit and that they managed to get through some of the harshest winters as a family – but this just isn’t true. In Laura Ingalls autobiography, she noted that the family had house guests share their home between 1880 and 1881. These visitors were called Maggie and George Masters – a couple that even welcomed a baby into the Ingalls family home. Many critics believe Laura kept out this little nugget to show her family in a stronger light.

5 ways the Little House on the Prairie books stretched the truth

Nellie Oleson wasn’t real

Every story needs a villain, and Nellie Oleson was this villain in The Little House on the Prairie. She teased Laura, and she even tried to steal Almanzo from her – but she was not actually one person. Instead, Laura created a single character from three other girls in her life, named Stella Gilbert, Nellie Owens and Genevieve Masters.

The Little House on the Prairie books are hugely popular, but does it make you feel differently about them now that you know they aren’t exactly true?