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The Long Winter

(Little House #6)

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  76,198 ratings  ·  1,822 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, 422 pages
Published January 1st 2007 by HarperTrophy (first published 1940)
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Elizabeth I'm not in the Dakotas, but yes, the research says that Laura's first winter was as awful as described. It's called the long winter throughout the Uni…moreI'm not in the Dakotas, but yes, the research says that Laura's first winter was as awful as described. It's called the long winter throughout the United States. My understanding is there was a short growing season the following summer, and so the next winter, while not full of blizzards, was devastating as well.(less)
Cathryn She is 13 to 14. I am halfway through the book.

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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?
Miranda Reads
Sep 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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,
“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.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Cindy Rollins
Jan 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
BAM The Bibliomaniac
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
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.
Jul 24, 2016 added it
Shelves: read-in-2016
Title tells the entire plot.

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
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.
Jul 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
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
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
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
David 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
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
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 (BooksforMKs)
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!
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
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
Dec 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Paula Vince
The title speaks volumes. At the start, Pa Ingalls thinks he's prepared for once in his life. He's had a history of being knocked down by sudden disasters such as prairie fires, grasshopper plagues and Indian rampages. This time he's decided to heed four warning signs that the coming winter will hit hard.

1) Muskrats are building the walls of their homes super thick.
2) Birds are flying south as fast as they can.
3) A couple of freak early blizzards have struck in October.
4) An elderly Indian man w
Jul 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-07-july
Great tension in this installment. It feels less episodic than many of the other books. The horribly long winter and fear of starvation really pulls it all together.
Aug 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good reading for a summer heat wave.
Dec 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The title of this installment of the Little House series sums up the theme - The Long Winter. When Charles notices that the muskrats have built an exceptionally sturdy home for the winter with very thick walls he points out to Laura that animals know things through the environment that we humans no longer recognize. Other signs are pointing to a cold winter and when a Native American comes into one of the shops and communicates his predictions, it frightens the settlers and rightfully so. "Heap ...more
M.M. Strawberry Library & Reviews
To really enjoy this book, you need to read the others in this series. You COULD read it by itself, but it's not really written as a stand-alone book and should not be treated as so. If you've already read the preceding Little House books, then you should be familiar with this family and their circumstances as well as the time period they lived in, and the technology they had compared to us. I've read the negative reviews for this book and am surprised at some of the complaints, which didn't fee ...more
Carol Bakker
This book (with its siblings) is the bedrock of my reading life. I haven't revisited it for a few years; our 2017 Oregon winter made me eager to see, again, how the Ingalls made it through all those blizzards.

I started reading the print book, but the audiobook jumped into my hands when I visited the children's audiobook section in our public library. At first I was put off by the reader's voice: raspy and low, like the gravelly tones of a lifetime smoker. But her huskiness made Pa's voice so co
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Play Book Tag: The Long Winter / Laura Ingalls Wilder. 4.5 stars 5 12 Aug 29, 2019 07:50PM  
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101 Books to Read...: Little House 06 - The Long Winter 1 6 Jun 08, 2017 07:57PM  
THIS IS THE WORST BOOK EVER!!! 9 52 Aug 19, 2016 10:41PM  

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See similar books…
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 (1 - 10 of 11 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)
  • On the Way Home: The Diary of a Trip from South Dakota to Mansfield, Missouri, in 1894  (Little House #10)
  • West from Home: Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder, San Francisco, 1915  (Little House #11)

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 · 96 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.” 1301 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.” 60 likes
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