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The Long Winter

(Little House #6)

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  80,276 ratings  ·  1,961 reviews
On the empty winter prairie, gray clouds to the northwest meant only one thing: a blizzard was seconds away. The first blizzard came in October. It snowed almost without stopping until April. The temperature dropped to forty below. Snow reached the roof-tops. And no trains could get through with food and coal. The townspeople began to starve. The Ingalls family barely live ...more
Paperback, 334 pages
Published 1971 by Harper Trophy (first published 1940)
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Noble Township Yes. The 1880's and 1890's were particularly hard in the midwest. We don't have "official" weather records for our part of the world for much more tha…moreYes. The 1880's and 1890's were particularly hard in the midwest. We don't have "official" weather records for our part of the world for much more than 140 years because we haven't been settled for much longer than that. The early pioneers were not bringing thermometers with them. But we do know for certain that in the period when western Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, and the Dakotas was first being settled, 1850's, 60's, and 70's, we had a period of North America warming. We know this from written reports of how the people and livestock lived at that time. For example, when my Great-great-grandfather settled about three miles from where I now live, he spent the first year, including winter, living in a three-sided shed, open to the south. His wall on the south side at night that first winter was his campfire. Now either the weather was much milder, or he was a lot tougher than any man alive today. The early cattle drives in the 1860's and 1870's could take place late into the fall and winter because the winters were open and cattle could continue to graze through the winter. Settlers in those years didn't have to put up hay because of year around open grazing as far north as the Dakota territories. Herds of cattle were driven up from Texas into Wyoming, Montanna, and the Dakotas because it looked like a sure way to make money. Then the 1880's hit. If you have read the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, particularly "The Long Winter", you know the settlers in that period of time were caught unprepared for the harsh winter weather. The 1880's and 1890's were noted for cold winters and terrible blizzards that wiped out herds of livestock and killed hundreds of settlers and natives who had been pushed onto reservations. When I was a child, there were annual reunions held by those who had survived the "School Children's Blizzard of 1888". Future president Teddy Roosevelt lost a fortune in the cattle business in North Dakota at that time. (less)
Cathryn She is 13 to 14. I am halfway through the book.

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Tatiana
This place is a double Hell Hole, compared to Plum Creek and its crickets. No amount of Pa's fiddle-playing can compensate for the fact that they all almost died of hunger and cold during this winter.

Remind me again, what was so bad about Big Woods in book one?
...more
Jess the Shelf-Declared Bibliophile
I think this one was my favorite so far in the series. There’s just something about reading of cold winter blizzards that is fascinating to me. I can’t wait to read about how the home is built on the land and putting up LOTS of food to better prepare them for the next winter!
Miranda Reads
Sep 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
I would have died ten times over if I lived during Laura's time

The whole family moves into town to weather the winter of 1800-1801 - and it's good thing they do. This was one of the harshest winters they would ever face. Snow soon piles over their windows and the bitter cold ensures that they cannot leave their houses. Their fuel runs out, their food consists of scraps, and Pa can no longer play the fiddle for his hands are stiff with cold.

Even in her toughest year, faced with bitter cold and st
...more
Diane
Dec 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was fitting that I read "The Long Winter" while visiting family in Minnesota. It was bitterly cold, the streets were packed with snow and the wind chill was below zero. As I read, I could hear the wind howling outside, and the harsh winter of 1880-81 didn't seem like that long ago.

Book six in the Little House series tells how the Ingalls family survived numerous blizzards while homesteading near De Smet, South Dakota. Pa first sensed that the season would be severe when he was harvesting hay
...more
Hannah
Gah, I love the Little House books, and none more than The Long Winter, the 6th in the series.

Although all of Laura Ingalls' books have a cozy, homey charm, The Long Winter brings with it a gritier, more menacing realism of what life would actually have been like for the American pioneer. Since it is a children's book, Laura keeps the threat light, but make no mistake, the threat of starvation is a serious and ever present danger to not only the Ingalls family, but all the residents of De Smet,
...more
Bren
“These times are too progressive. Everything has changed too fast. Railroads and telegraphs and kerosene and coal stoves -- they're good to have but the trouble is, folks get to depend on 'em.”
― Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Long Winter




I love anything Little House.
...more
Elizabeth
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cindy Rollins
While this is not the most compelling Little House book it is a very important part of the story. I cannot imagine a better
character building book. To live with the Ingalls through the long winter puts much of life's little frustrations in perspective.
When Laura says, "For shame, Grace," after months and months of suffering, and little Grace utters the first and last complaint of the whole book, belies our own time and culture. No, it is not compelling to be confronted with one's own weaknesses
...more
Philip
Eleanor and I just finished this up last night. A couple thoughts before she starts her review:

I saw a facebook post not too long ago in which the person was opining that they didn't live in the "Little House days." This was in regard to Christmas. They mentioned how Laura and Mary et al received only one or two presents and were thrilled and grateful to receive them. You know, that was a "simpler time."

Several days later, I saw that they were taking a trip to Disney for Christmas. And there wer
...more
Manybooks
Albeit that the sixth instalment of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series, although her biographical and Newbery Honour winning (from 1941) The Long Winter (about the harsh, relentlessly frigid and plagued by continuous blizzards winter of 1880/1881) reads intensely and with a rather prominent feeling of a vague but also ever-present fear that not only the Ingalls family but many residents of De Smet South Dakota could perhaps be facing actual starvation etc. (once it becomes ...more
Kelly
Title tells the entire plot.

Kathryn
Remarkable how Laura is able to write a captivating, moving novel essentially about being housebound for six months during a long, harsh winter of blizzards. Perhaps more remarkable, she is able to convey the drudgery, the monotony, the physical and emotional toll of those dark days without the book becoming a horror story or pity party. For example, moment they realize Pa can no longer play the fiddle because his fingers are too numb and tattered from the cold is utterly heartbreaking (the fidd ...more
BAM Endlessly Booked
Ok, this book officially scared the holy bejesus out of me! I hate winter!!! Absolutely abhor it. My job is considered "emergency personnel " so regardless of weather conditions I am expected to make my appearance. Laura suffered through SEVEN MONTHS of blizzards. Holy Christ! There was some serious deprivation happening in this small town of about 87 people. Wheat bread and potatoes with tea were the rations. I can currently claim multigrain bread and tons of tea as staples in my apartment, not ...more
Jen from Quebec :0)
Ever since I first read this series at the age of 9 or so, THIS one stuck out in my memory as a favorite. It just seemed so much more REAL than the others, even if, yes, they are all REAL stories. The Long Winter was indeed that, with 7 months of blizzards nearly freezing and starving the Ingalls family to death. As a kid, I liked it for the adventure of it all, as an adult I like it for the sense of realism- they actually nearly died! Starving, eating crushed up wheat, burning sticks of horse's ...more
Suzanne
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is not a series I can be subjective about - it is way too much a part of my childhood. And this particular book was one of my favorites. It has been cold here this week, but not nearly as cold as it was in the book, and I'm SO glad to have a heater and food! I love this story and the all of the endurance and ingenuity shown over the Long Winter. ...more
Andrea Cox
4 stars

This book is a great adventure! Though I didn’t appreciate a few word choices, the story was great and interesting and kept me hooked. This was a staple of my childhood, and it was great fun to revisit it now that I’m grown.
E.F.B.
Sep 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooked-it
Another excellent read. I'm excited that Laura has finally met the Wilders. :D With all the blizzards and the family being stuck inside for the majority of the book, the story could have easily gotten boring or repetitive, but as always the author kept things interesting even if it isn't as lighthearted as it once was. I also once again appreciated seeing how they dealt with things like blizzards back then. Such a stark contrast to when we get blizzards today and get freaked out if the power eve ...more
Dave Schaafsma
The family is finally done with this book, listening to Cherry Jones read it as we traveled over-the-rive-and-through-the-woods-to Grandmother's-house-we-go and over a few meals, even, and it was not always fun, sometimes tense, but on the whole it was good, as usual.

This one is mostly blizzards and near starvation from the South Dakota winter. Tedious, for a while, then realistically and impressively oppressive and frightening. They could actually have starved. They go months never eating in a
...more
Celeste
We live in troubled times. There is civil unrest and prejudice and unwarranted hatred plaguing our world, across borders and oceans and digital platforms. It’s easy to wish we could go back to simpler times, to an era where a man’s word was good and pollution was decades into the future.

But I have to tell you: nothing and nobody and not any amount of money could convince me to travel back in time to trade lives with Laura Ingalls Wilder.. Nope. I love, no, I adore Little House on the Prairie. T
...more
Matthew Hunter
Wow. Some free advice from Uncle Matt - don't choose The Long Winter as a read along with your toddler while at the same time reading Oryx and Crake. Atwood's dystopian nightmare's challenge enough. Throw in a claustrophobic account of near-starvation during a long, cold, blizzard laden winter and it's almost too much to bear in combination.

The Long Winter's unlike any of the other books in the Little House series. The sense of foreboding and doom is palpable in the early chapters. Pa can't quit
...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
I must have started and set aside a half-dozen books before I settled into The Long Winter. I'm finding it difficult to read in these uncertain times, but I saw Ruth recommending Long Winter on her blog A Great Book Study this week and I decided to give this book a try.

I'm very glad I did. If you are feeling worried and anxious, The Long Winter is a good book to read.

The Long Winter is the true story of the Ingalls family during a terrible season of blizzards that extended from October to late A
...more
Kelsey Bryant
It's amazing how Laura Ingalls Wilder makes you feel like you're right there in De Smet, South Dakota, experiencing the Long Winter with the Ingalls family. This book is an especially good read when the weather is cold! :)

I've noted this before, but I'll reiterate: Before I started rereading the Little House series, I was half afraid the books wouldn't live up to my memories of them as a young girl. But they certainly have, and if possible, I love them even more now because I recognize their qua
...more
Jonna Higgins-Freese
I read this first when I was young, and a few years ago started a practice of re-reading it every winter, whenever I start to feel sorry for myself because it's so cold and dark. Re-reading it as an adult, I'm impressed by how cheerful they remained in the face of tremendous adversity. I love her storytelling, which is so simple on the surface, but really complex enough to entertain both children and adults. I agree with one of Kim Stanley Robinson's characters in the Science in the Capitol seri ...more
Kailey (Luminous Libro)
This story can get depressing since there is so much cold darkness and disaster and privation. But man triumphs over nature, and I love how the Ingalls family support and encourage one another even in the difficult times. A wonderful story, beautifully written and very compelling!
Lydia
Feb 24, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was interesting. I enjoyed it but I didn't yearn to read more. It was very easy reading and I could've read it in three days...but i didn't. ...more
Rachel
Nov 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Any time I start to feel like my life is horribly hard, I need to reread this book. Covid and lockdowns and cancelled plans and no vacations are hard, yeah... but I'm not watching my kids slowly starve. I'm not twisting hay into sticks to keep my house just warm enough so that my family can starve instead of freeze to death. I'm not facing down day after day of numbing misery while trying to keep the spirits of my children from faltering.

I can barely imagine the kind of fortitude. I don't think
...more
Kressel Housman
Mar 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: kids 10 and up
Review #1 - The Little House series was so popular in my school in 1975 that after I’d finished Little House on the Prairie, the only book available in my school library was the sixth in the series, The Long Winter. At 400+ pages, it was the longest book I’d ever read, and it took me months. Kids in my class even commented about it. “It’s called The Long Winter because it’s long book.” And that was one of the more neutral comments. Much more typical was, “You’re still reading that?” And from the ...more
Luann
Wow! What a story. I'm almost glad that I never read this when I was younger. I don't think I would have appreciated the magnitude of what they had to live through. And it meant so much more knowing that the experiences described here were based on actual events. This definitely deserves its Newbery honor, and I'm VERY glad that I finally got around to reading it! I never thought any of the other books in the series would come close to eclipsing my love for Little House in the Big Woods which I ...more
Christina DeVane
Perfect nostalgic listen-to while I lay here in my weak and sickly state. It reminds me that my problems could be a lot worse, and to be thankful I’ve always had plenty to eat! This account is truly amazing; just when things seem they can’t get any worse, they do! It’s crazy to think of blizzards for 7 months, and the only way they knew was the Indian’s warning and the thickness of a muskrat house. We are blessed with all our weather viewings today. Man’s resilience and ability to endure was muc ...more
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4,067 followers
Ingalls wrote a series of historical fiction books for children based on her childhood growing up in a pioneer family. She also wrote a regular newspaper column and kept a diary as an adult moving from South Dakota to Missouri, the latter of which has been published as a book.

Other books in the series

Little House (9 books)
  • Little House in the Big Woods (Little House, #1)
  • Farmer Boy (Little House, #2)
  • Little House on the Prairie (Little House, #3)
  • On the Banks of Plum Creek  (Little House, #4)
  • By the Shores of Silver Lake  (Little House, #5)
  • Little Town on the Prairie  (Little House, #7)
  • These Happy Golden Years (Little House, #8)
  • The First Four Years  (Little House, #9)

Articles featuring this book

When the weather outside is frightful, your TBR pile is so delightful. To get into proper wintertime reading mode, we asked our Goodreads...
134 likes · 95 comments
“Laura felt a warmth inside her. It was very small, but it was strong. It was steady, like a tiny light in the dark, and it burned very low but no winds could make it flicker because it would not give up.” 1307 likes
“These times are too progressive. Everything has changed too fast. Railroads and telegraphs and kerosene and coal stoves -- they're good to have but the trouble is, folks get to depend on 'em.” 63 likes
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