Little House on the Prairie

Classic pioneer drama is one for the books.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Episodes stress the importance and collective power of family, community, and the Christian faith. Some storylines also deal with serious matters, including death, illness, loss, and addiction.

Positive role models

Members of the Ingalls family model mutual respect and affection toward each other; the adult role models are patient, loving, and hard-working 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.

Not applicable
Not applicable
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.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this drama 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 storylines deal with serious matters like the plague and other epidemics, infant mortality, the death of a parent, and the threat of neighboring Native Americans. Parents may find themselves answering questions about American history and geography, which is just one great reason to watch this epic series.

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?


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

Families can talk about...

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

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  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 3 and 6 year old Written byloisj April 11, 2009
age 6+

Beware outdated content

I love having my kids watch this show because the themes are so innocent and because there's really no violence or sexual content. However, beware some outdated themes and ideas--I've found i have to watch with my kids and be ready to turn off the episode. For example, we watched an episode about an African American character, Joe Kagen, who was trying to get the townsfolks' "permission" to attend church (which takes some debriefing with young children to begin with). The two main male protagonists (Pa and Jonathan) were of course on the moral side of the episode's message, arguing on Joe's behalf, but Mrs. Olsen, the antagonist, was arguing against it. I was shocked to hear her begin spouting racist ideas such as "those people practice witchcraft, beat on drums, and EAT PEOPLE!" Then, as if that's not enough, her husband, who is supposed to be on the "right" side of the moral message, states that her view is ridiculous and "this is America, not Africa!" So not only do kids hear racist stereotypes that they might not otherwise hear, but then they're told that those things DO happen in Africa! So things like that, which were considered moral and "progressive" in 1979, are outdated, racist, and horribly ethnocentric by today's standards. Just beware the time lag!
Teen, 13 years old Written byKelandryOfTortall April 9, 2008
age 0+

Realllly good!

I love little house (and most other older shows). The episodes are really good, especially the newer ones, which seem to have more interesting plots. Must watch, especially for vintage-intolerant eleven-year-olds. :)))) xoxo KEL
Parent Written bymarz January 17, 2014
age 10+

The best tv series for kids

My 11 year old very sporty son surprisingly absolutely LOVES this series. This was unexpected because I actually bought it with his younger sister in mind. He laughs, cries and even yells at the screen! My husband and I can't help but watch and get involved in the shows as well. We both remember our favourite episode. My son was begging me to tell him what happened to certain characters in later episodes. My 8 year old daughter enjoys the series as well but I think it is better understood by 9-12 year olds. The values are timeless. You can't go wrong. Enjoy.


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