Dear Laura Ingalls Wilder,
I don’t entirely remember how my family came across your stories, but I do know that they had a large impact on my childhood. From about the time I was in first grade, my parents and I would read the books before bed and it didn’t take us very long to get through all of them. When my sister was old enough we reread the series with her and we fell deeper into the stories you created.
My family decided that we wanted to make your life more real to us and to be able to connect with you and your family by following the journey of your family We started this adventure with the place your life and stories began, in the Big Woods of Wisconsin. From there we traveled to Minnesota to see where the dugout was. Both of these places were very intriguing but DeSmet was where your stories really came to life. Our experience in DeSmet was more meaningful because there wa more to do and more connections to you. One of the sights on the land that I especially enjoyed was the cottonwood trees that were still standing after your Pa planted them over a hundred years ago. While we were staying on your homestead we also got to sleep in a covered wagon. I found this to be really fun as a kid but it also made me realize that you slept in a space that small and cramped for weeks at a time while you were moving and that all of your belongings had to fit into that little wagon along with the six people in your family. Another part of the DeSmet that really gave me a better understanding of your life was seeing a play about your life put on by the organization that runs the museum. Both my parents and I thought that the play was done really well and was very realistic. Eventually, we visited all seven sites where you and your family lived and we gained a greater appreciation for all the experiences you described through your writing.
Your books brought us closer together through story times before bed and travel across three summers and thousands of miles. While reading the books we laughed as well as cried with the characters because they became so real to us. This connection grew with the number of places we visited and the more we got to know you.
Not only did your stories connect me to my family and yours, but they gave me the opportunity to learn about and see new places that I wouldn’t have otherwise visited. I got to travel the country, meet new people, and experience new regions. If it weren’t for your books I might have gotten the opportunity to travel to the midwest twice and go to all the states that I did. On our journey we not only went to sites that related to you, but we also saw Mt. Rushmore, the Badlands, the Black Hills, bison, St. Louis, the Shenandoahs, the Great Smoky Mountains, and so much more. I have you to thank for writing these incredible stories and giving us the idea and drive to want to travel the country.
I would like to thank you for sharing the joys and sorrows of your life and allowing my family to come along for the ride. You helped my family see how your life was much more difficult than ours is and that we have a lot to be grateful for. Despite this we also found some difficulties and joys that were shared between our families including dealing with loss of family and friends as well as just having fun together as a family. We realized how great of an impact your writing had on so many people when we saw the large crowds of people at all of your homesteads. I know that without your stories my childhood would have been changed for the worse and I am eternally grateful for everything you gave my family.