Little House on the Prairie® was a childhood favorite. When I was asked to bring the series into my home for review, it was a no-brainer. There are so many benefits of watching Little House on the Prairie® with your kids. Of course, the “Little House” books are a fabulous series to read with your kids as well. My kids no longer ask for cartoons or their other favorite shows during our allotted TV time. Little House on the Prairie® has been requested each time since we began watching season one.
* The Little House on the Prairie® movie and the Legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder movie was provided at no cost to me.
As I was planning to watch Little House on the Prairie® Season 1 with my kids, I questioned myself. Although I remember it being a great show growing up, I also remembered hard topics. I questioned whether this first season would be OK or if it would be too hard for the kids to watch. They are age 4, 6 and 7. I decided that I would watch every episode with them, and if I felt uncomfortable moving forward I would stop. We are through Episode 8, and I have yet to turn it off.
Yes, there are hard topics that are addressed, but I still see the benefits of watching this with the kids, and I will explain why.
Benefits of Watching Little House on the Prairie® with Kids
- There are Great Moral Lessons – The character traits that are promoted in Little House on the Prairie® are the same qualities I am trying to teach my kids by using my character development series. Hover over my character tab to see all 52 traits we work on throughout the year. As I was watching, I saw certain topics addressed directly, which included: perseverance, diligence, respect, obedience, kindness, virtue, generosity, honesty, helpfulness and optimism just to name a few. Other traits are woven in throughout the stories. As I am trying to teach my kids about integrity, the episodes we watched only supported what we are trying to instill in them.
- There are Hard Topics – Some might see the hard topics addressed as a turn off. I see these as a great teaching opportunity. The world is a hard and challenging place. It is so great to be able to push pause on the video and discuss these hard topics in a safe environment where I can be their number one teacher. I can ask them what they think, and we can delve into the issues more. I can follow up with them on any questions they might have. For example, in the earlier episodes, the Ingalls family runs into issues with the Native Americans. One tribe tries to burn them out of their original home. My kids automatically pinned the Ingalls as in the right. We were able to discuss it. Was it right for settlers to head on over and just start claiming land as their own? Other hard topics included alcohol problems, death, physical dangers crossing the land, and kids dealing with physical deformities. These are all topics I know are healthy to talk about with the kids. Part of me wants to take my kids and live in a bubble somewhere. What happens in this world can be scary, and we just want to protect our kids. That said, we are called to be in the world but not of the world. I can’t shy away from the hard topics because I want to shield the kids and keep their world a happy-go-lucky place. Yes, I need to protect them and do it with care and concern. That said, I am comfortable being the one who gets the privilege of exploring these topics with them. I don’t want be live in fear but empower them to think critically about topics. There are a lot of adventurous and intense moments in some of the episodes. The one moment that may scare smaller kids is in episode 5 when a man gets blown up. He is standing there one moment and then you see an explosion, and he is gone. I just wanted to give that warning for kids that might be sensitive to seeing that.
- The Little House on the Prairie Offers a Christian Perspective – Not many shows that you are going to find on TV today offer such a strong Christian perspective to life. The re-iteration of Christian concepts and Bible passages that I’m trying to teach in my home is fabulous. Following a family who is willing to talk about their faith as they walk through this life together is not only a good example for the kids but for me. In regards to the truths about God, the Bible says, “Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” – Deuteronomy 11:19. The Ingalls demonstrate this throughout the show.
- Influence Positive Role Playing – Children are greatly influenced by television. My son liked to watch some of the super hero and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle shows. However, after a few incidences of hitting kids, I said no more. His actions were being influenced. It was all in play. He was saying he was getting the bad guys, but it’s not what I wanted to see. In contrast, after watching these Little House on the Prairie episodes, my daughters were running around with “bonnets” on their head and slates in their hands. It’s been all prairie play around here, as you can see in the pictures above.
- It’s Family Bonding Time – These shows are something that you, as an adult, are going to enjoy watching as well. We have a Friday Fun Day at our house, and it always involves pizza and movie night. There is no reason why we can’t make screen time bonding time as well. When you are intentional as a parent, activities take on new meaning. It is a special time that creates memories and traditions.
- It Teaches Positive Life Lessons – As I was watching the last few episodes with my kids, I just had to write down a few great Little House on the Prairie® quotes. I wish I had been doing it all along because there are little pearls in every episode. Here are a few quotes I loved:
“You mustn’t be afraid to hurt because that’s a part of life. Hurt is something to measure happiness by. It’s like valleys and mountain peaks. Without them both, the world would be flat and uninteresting.”
“One of the biggest mistakes people make is trying to change themselves so that somebody else will like them. In a way, it is a kind of lie. Deep down inside us there is trueness telling ourselves who we really are.”
“She’s poor. She has no happiness inside.” (In reference to Nellie, the most financially well off child in town).
The Ingalls can teach your family great life lessons as well. You are going to really enjoy sitting down to read the books or watch the show with your family. The website https://littlehouseontheprairie.com has all the resources you need to bring the beloved stories into your own home. What I also get to tell you about is the big Little House on the Prairie® giveaway. You could win a prize pack valued at $164 that includes the first four seasons of the newly remastered TV series, the best selling Pioneer Girl autobiography (packaged with an exclusive Pioneer Girl tote bag!), and the recently released documentary about Laura Ingalls Wilder. Good luck with the giveaway!
I too bought the series thinking it instilled wholesome Christian values, but I find there are a number of episodes, which go against Christian values. In the episode “Injun Kid” Laura seems a native american boy praying and says something like “that is just how he prays to his God” and that its all right. In the episode I just watched entitled “Be My Friend” Mr. Ingles has just given permission to Laura to skip church to go hunt for her friend that sent a letter down the creek. In “Be My Friend” the father is also shown to be a Christian, but too serious and cruel. This has also been the way Christians are depicted in other episodes such as the episode of the woman preacher who can’t read (I forget the title). I also don’t really like my sons to watch violence, which some episodes have; nor shooting at people, which other episodes have as well. There are also episodes that celebrate revenge and many episodes where both Pa and Ma speak very poorly of the Olesons (not to mention Laura and Mary), which seems to be in conflict with Ephesians 4:29
I think there are some wholesome episodes (especially at the start of the series), but I recommend that Christian parents pre-screen episodes.
Pre-screening episodes is always good advice. Some of those incidents you point out I see as great teaching opportunities. You can discuss the sin nature of all the characters. None of us is perfect, and for me, it’s a great time to discuss Ephesians 4:29 and explain that the Ingles are going to mess up as well because they have a sin nature. We can encourage our kids to avoid acting a certain action while also continually pointing them back to the Lord’s grace when do mess up – like the Ingles do at times. I am pretty conservative about what I let my kids watch. I’m not going to let them watch a sex scene and then say, “OK, so that’s what we don’t do before marriage.” However, I’m comfortable letting some of these kind of examples through so we can really talk about the issues and temptations they will face in life. Like you said, pre-screening and watching with the kids is great. Each parent is going to feel convicted about different components and can prayerfully consider how to tackle these things within their home. I appreciate your thoughts and the time you are taking to be intentional with your kids!
I just PVR’d some Little House on the Prairie episodes from cable. My 10 and 12 year old boys really enjoy the show. I love the values it teaches children as you’ve mentioned in the article something which is hard to come by in modern tv. As a parent watching the show the stories touch my heart and I usually shed a sentimental tear or two. As for the Christian perspective we are very much an agnostic family with an open mind so it doesn’t really deter from the story for those families that do not follow any religion but still abide by the golden rule and a strong moral compass.
Thanks for weighing in Pamela. I agree with you, and I absolutely love watching them alongside my family. It is such a great starting point of really good conversations about the values you mentioned – and also the hard things that can enter into life. I haven’t purchased season 2 yet, but you are inspiring me to go for it. My kids loved the first season. Thanks so much!