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5 Books like Little House on the Prairie: Young Pioneers

Jane Howarth itcher‘Little House on the Prairie’ isn’t even the first book Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about her unbelievable frontier childhood, but it’s the one that really made its mark. ‘The Courage of Sarah Noble’ (1954), ‘So Far from Skye’ (1993) and ‘Anne of Green Gables’ (1908) are three books like ‘Little House on the Prairie’ that young readers will want to explore. ~ Jane Howarth

Life on a Covered Wagon

I don’t think a 19th Century version of myself would have been brave enough to set out on a covered wagon and face all those dangers in pursuit of my dream. But that hasn’t stopped me being captivated by pioneer stories – that’s the wonder of books, right?

Vicarious pioneers, join me as we set out on trails across North America (and across the seas), starting with three true story-inspired tales.

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Books Similar to ‘Little House on the Prairie’…

‘Children on the Oregon Trail’ (An Rutgers Van Der Loeff, 1970)
Neal Stephenson book

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Travelling in a covered wagon, along with other settlers, the Sager family are full of hope. But then tragedy strikes, and John and his six younger siblings are left to fend for themselves…

If you followed ‘Little House’ through the family’s harder times, this story of another hard-won frontier dream might interest you. Prepare for an extra stack of heartbreak and setbacks…

Based on the journey of the Sager orphans, ‘Children on the Oregon Trail’ follows a group of children whose parents die part way along the route, leaving them to find their way across the country alone.

Similarity Match: 90%
Closer to the unvarnished side of ‘Little House on the Prairie’, ‘Children on the Oregon Trail’ opens up the frontier with another true story.

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‘The Courage of Sarah Noble’ (Alice Dalgliesh, 1954)

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Yes, Sarah, it is a wolf. But I have my musket, and I am awake…

Newbery Medals aren’t everything (there are a good few treasures that got away), but the recipients are usually a good bet – so let me introduce you to Alice Dalgliesh’s Newbery Medal winner, ‘The Courage of Sarah Noble’.

In 1707, a girl ventures into unsettled Connecticut, where her father has bought land. There, they learn to live in the wilderness and overcome the other settlers’ prejudice against the local Native American tribes.

This book isn’t problem-free, though – the writing style can be quite traditionally minded, so do keep that in mind.

Similarity Match: 80%
Fictionalised from the history of a New England town, ‘Sarah Noble’ doesn’t ring as true as ‘Little House on the Prairie’. But house-building, dangers in the woods and encounters with Native Americans will take you back to the same world.

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‘So Far from Skye’ (Judith O’Neill, 1993)

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The genuine desire to get a story heard and to capture for a new generation a way of growing up that was disappearing…

 

Is it ok if we switch continents for a while?

‘So Far from Skye’ is a young adult book like ‘Little House on the Prairie’ that turns real lives into incredible stories – it’s the perfect volume to progress to if you’re looking for a new world to explore.

Australian author Judith O’Neill’s first novel, ‘Jess and the River Kids’ (1985) journals her own childhood in the style of Laura Ingalls Wilder. But the author later turned her ancestors’ escape from the Highland Clearances, dangerous voyage and turbulent new life into a book’s closer in spirit to the prairie tales.

Similarity Match: 75%
Judith O’Neill brings Australian settlers’ family legends to life – but like ‘Little House’, these ghosts from the past show us a new land’s best, worst and unchangeable realities.

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If You Like ‘Little House on the Prairie’, You Will Like…

We’ve spent a long time wandering around history with these last books, but even though the heroines of our next books didn’t walk on real ground, their adventures should charm ‘Little House’ devotees.

‘Anne of Green Gables’ (L. M. Montgomery, 1908)

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For Anne to take things calmly would have been to change her nature. All ‘spirit and fire and dew’ she was…

Anne is sent to her new adopted home in Canada, but as with most of the book’s exploits, things don’t go according to plan. The family are expecting a boy, so the red-ponytailed girl is kind of a surprise.

I’ve always felt like the opening chapters take a while to get off the ground, so if you’re new to ‘Green Gables’, stick it out! I promise there’s a whole lot of mischief coming up (with chapters like ‘A Good Imagination Gone Wrong’, you know we’re in for some fun), alongside some poignant moments.

And whatever you take away from the eight-book series, ‘Anne of Green Gables’ offer so many opportunities for inspiration.

Anne’s life is a little more settled than Laura Ingalls Wilder’s – but only a little. You’ll love this fictional heroine and her adventures, those of her own making and the ones that life throws at her.

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‘Meet Felicity: An American Girl’ (Valerie Tripp, 1991)

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Felicity Merriman pushed open the door to her father’s store and took a deep breath. She loved the smell of coffee beans and chocolate, of pine soap, spice tea, and apples…

Walk straight into Pre-Revolutionary America with Felicity and her family, centring on Felicity’s love of horses and outdoor adventures in her new country.

Author Valerie Tripp loves describing Felicity’s surroundings, so you’ll feel like you can smell that pine soap and spice tea for yourself.

If you want to spend more time in 1774, check out Shailene Woodley as our spirited settler in made-for-TV movie ‘Felicity: An American Girl Adventure’ (Nadia Tass, 2005).

It’s got a lighter remit, but like ‘Little House’, this book throws you right into America’s past.

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The Prairie, the Big Woods… so Many Places to Explore

Where will your literary trail take you next? I hope these books will let you find the next staging post, but there’s so much out there.

Are there any books similar to ‘Little House on the Prairie’ you want to add to the bookshelf?

Hi, I’m Jane, BA (Drama, Film and TV) and MA (Cultural and Creative Industries). When I’m not writing about creative things, I’m designing or planning them. If you’re brave enough to risk an avalanche, look behind the stacks of books and DVDs and you’ll find me balancing a cup of tea, a handful of knitting and a cupcake.
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