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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
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.
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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?
- Premiere date: September 11, 1974
- Cast: Karen Grassle, Melissa Gilbert, Michael Landon
- Networks: Hallmark Channel, Syndicated
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Adventures, Book Characters, Friendship, Horses and Farm Animals
- Character Strengths: Empathy, Humility, Self-control
- TV rating: TV-G
- Available on: DVD, Streaming
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.