Little House on the Prairie

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Little House on the Prairie TV Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Classic pioneer drama is one for the books.

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 19 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 39 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Episodes stress the importance and collective power of family, community, and the Christian faith. Some story lines also deal with mature matters, including death, illness, loss, and addiction. Themes include empathy, humility, and self-control.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Members of the Ingalls family model mutual respect and affection toward each other; the adult role models are patient, loving, and hardworking and inspire their kids to be the same. One regular character is African-American, and the town residents never show a hint of prejudice toward her (perhaps a bit anachronistic, but a great example to follow). Native Americans are usually portrayed as peaceful, although some white characters use derogatory terms for them. Roles tend to be gender-based, but this accurately reflects the time period.

Violence & Scariness

At least one gun usually is prominent and accessible in each home, and the men use them for hunting or -- more rarely -- self-defense. Physical punishment is the norm in some households, and children who break the rules often face their father's belt.

Sexy Stuff

Budding romances sometimes are mixed into the plot, but, as was customary during the time in which the series is set, there's very little outright flirting and nearly no physical contact. Occasional episodes deal with issues such as rape and sexual assault, but these are rare.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The main adult male character smokes a pipe. When alcoholism or drug use is portrayed, the consequences are always severe. Heavy drinking is usually limited to men in saloons.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Little House on the Prairie is set on the American frontier in the late 19th century, so aspects of daily life may seem foreign to younger viewers who lack historical understanding. The Ingalls family is a model of mutual respect and affection. Some story lines deal with serious matters such as the plague and other epidemics, infant mortality, the death of a parent, and the threat of neighboring Native Americans. Though the bulk of the show's content is gentle and controversy-free, occasional episodes touch on more serious subjects, from sexual assault to racism. Parents may find themselves answering questions about American history and geography, which is just one great reason to watch this epic series.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byCasey B. July 11, 2017

A gem

Little House is a series that still holds up today! Although filmed in the 70's and early 80's the show has a timeless quality
For those who grew up... Continue reading
Adult Written byBrittReviews December 30, 2018

Favorite show

. This show is mostly wholesome and family friendly. I would very much suggest screening the episodes before watching with young children because some episode... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byAva Perry June 18, 2020

Important life lessons told in the best way possible

I love this show much more than I could ever express in words. I started watching Little House on the Prairie when I was about 9 and I've loved it ever sin... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bymtcnmaddux December 15, 2018

Teaching moments

The lessons are taught through entertaining plots and good characters- even some taught by hated characters; showing there is a good side to everyone. Christia... Continue reading

What's the story?

LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE is set in the late 19th century and centers on the Ingalls family, who live in the growing pioneer town of Walnut Grove, Minnesota. Hardworking farmer Charles Ingalls (Michael Landon) and his wife, Caroline (Karen Grassle), rely on their devotion to each other and their family to see them through the daily trials of early settlement life. Cooperation and generosity are essential to everyone's survival in such a small, isolated town. Together the residents endure harsh weather, plagues, and droughts that threaten their livelihood.

Is it any good?

This series is an ageless TV classic that ought to be on every family's watch list. Based on Laura Ingalls Wilder's autobiographical books, Little House on the Prairie originally ran on NBC from 1974 to 1983. Thanks to syndication and DVDs, it continues to provide quality family entertainment. On sheer entertainment value, the show sets the standard with rich characters, intuitive acting, and interesting story lines. But its truest merit lies in making historical TV so enriching and entertaining to watch.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about American pioneers like the characters in Little House on the Prairie. What challenges did they face? Could you have persevered the way they did? How were their lives different from ours today? How were they the same?

  • Families also can compare the series to Laura Ingalls Wilder's original books: What do the books and the show have in common? How are they different?

  • How do the characters on Little House on the Prairie demonstrate empathy, humility, and self-control. Why are those important character strengths?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love history

Character Strengths

Find more TV shows that help kids build character.

Themes & Topics

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