John Larrysson Column: Summer Story Chapter 1 Part 1 - Introduction
The Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

This summer, I will read to you from a book called The Little House in the Big Woods, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Each chapter in this book stands on its own. It is about a little girl who grows up in the American wilderness about a hundred and fifty years ago. (A wilderness is a wild place without buildings, cities or streets.) At the time America was an undeveloped (poor and without modern industry) country without modern factories, electricity, roads or cars.

To make reading easier I will add definitions or notes in brackets after the first time less common words are used. So there will be many bracketed notes at the beginning and few at the end. I will only make minor changes to the original text to use UK spelling or to simplify meanings. If you like the book, I will tell you where to get a copy at the end of the summer.

[audio 1]

Chapter 1 Part 1

Once upon a time, long ago in America, a little girl lived in the Big Woods1 of Wisconsin (a place in America), in a little grey house made of logs (whole tree trunks).

The great, dark trees of the Big Woods stood all around the house, and beyond them were other trees and beyond them were more trees. As far as a man could go to the north in a day, or a week, or a whole month, there was nothing but woods. There were no houses. There were no roads. There were no people. There were only trees and the wild animals who had their homes among them.

[audio 2]

Wolves lived in the Big Woods, and bears, and huge wild cats. Muskrats (small hairy animals that live in rivers) and mink (a small hairy animal whose fur is used for coats) and otter (thin small hairy animals that live in rivers) lived by the streams (small rivers). Foxes had dens (animal homes) in the hills and deer roamed (walked) everywhere.

To the east of the little log house, and to the west, there were miles upon miles of trees, and only a few little log houses scattered  (spread at random) far apart in the edge of the Big Woods.

So far as the little girl could see, there was only the one little house where she lived with her Father and Mother, her sister Mary and baby sister Carrie. A wagon track (dirt road) ran before the house, turning and twisting (not straight) out of sight in the woods where the wild animals lived, but the little girl did not know where it went, nor what might be at the end of it.

The little girl was named Laura and she called her father, Pa, and her mother, Ma.2 In those days and in that place, children did not say Father and Mother, nor Mamma and Papa (Mummy and daddy or mum and dad are more common in Hong Kong), as they do now.

[audio 3]


1. The name "Big Woods" would not normally be capitalised, however the author treats a few common nouns, such as "Butchering Time", as if they were proper nouns because the story is told from a child's perspective.

2. After the first chapter, I will revert to using mother and father so as not to confuse the readers who start with one of the other stand-alone chapters. At first we were only going to present the first chapter as an introduction to the book. However it was popular enough that publishing chapter two the next summer became necessary. It continued to be very popular and each summer another chapter was published. Over a decade later we are finishing the book.

The Little House in the Big Woods

Chapter 1 - Part 1: Introduction

Chapter 1 - Part 2: Wolves in the Night

Chapter 1 - Part 3: Venison

Chapter 1 - Part 4: Smoked Meat

Chapter 1 - Part 5: Food for Winter

Chapter 1 - Part 6: Butchering Time

Chapter 1 - Part 7: After Butchering Time

Chapter 1 - Part 8: Winter

Chapter 1 - Part 9: Winter Night

Chapter 1 - Part 10: About the Author & Where to Find the Book

Chapter 2 - Part 1: Winter Days and Winter Nights

Chapter 2 - Part 2: Jack Frost

Chapter 2 - Part 3: Laura and Mary Helped Mother with the Housework

Chapter 2 - Part 4: Churn on Thursday

Chapter 2 - Part 5: The Best Time of All

Chapter 2 - Part 6: Her Father Began to Play his Fiddle and Sing

Chapter 2 - Part 7: Father Told Stories

Chapter 2 - Part 8 - The Story of Grandfather and the Panther

Chapter 3 - Part 1: Introduction (The Long Rifle)

Chapter 3 - Part 2: Making Bullets

Chapter 3 - Part 3: Cleaning the Gun

Chapter 3 - Part 4: Loading the Gun

Chapter 3 - Part 5: Where and Why to Keep a Gun

Chapter 3 - Part 6: The Story of her Father and the Voice in the Forest Part 1

Chapter 3 - Part 7: The Story of her Father and the Voice in the Forest Part 2

Chapter 4 - Part 1: Christmas in the Forest

Chapter 4 - Part 2: Making a Gift for his Wife

Chapter 4 - Part 3: Christmas is Coming

Chapter 4 - Part 4: Children Make Pictures in the Snow

Chapter 4 - Part 5: Prince & the Blue Dress (part 1 of 3)

Chapter 4 - Part 6: Prince & the Blue Dress (part 2 of 3)

Chapter 4 - Part 7: Prince & the Blue Dress (part 3 of 3)

Chapter 4 - Part 8: Christmas Morning

Chapter 4 - Part 9: Santa Claus Only Gives Presents to Children

Chapter 5 - Part 1: Sundays

Chapter 5 - Part 2: The Weekly Bath

Chapter 5 - Part 3: Being Quiet

Chapter 5 - Part 4: The Story of Grandfather's Sledge and the Pig (part 1 of 4)

Chapter 5 - Part 5: The Story of Grandfather's Sledge and the Pig (part 2 of 4)

Chapter 5 - Part 6: The Story of Grandfather's Sledge and the Pig (part 3 of 4)

Chapter 5 - Part 7: The Story of Grandfather's Sledge and the Pig (part 4 of 4)

Chapter 5 - Part 8: Sunday Music

Chapter 5 - Part 9: Birthday Spanking

Chapter 6 - Part 1 - Introduction (Two Big Bears)

Chapter 6 - Part 2 - Getting Ready to Go

Chapter 6 - Part 3 - Milking Sukey the Cow (1 of 2)

Chapter 6 - Part 4a - Milking Sukey the Cow (2 of 2)

Chapter 6 - Part 4b - Review Questions: Milking Sukey

Chapter 6 - Part 4c - Answers for Review Questions

Chapter 6 - Part 5 - Her Father Has Not Come Home

Chapter 6 - Part 6 - The Story Of Her Father And The Bear In The Way (1 of 2)

Chapter 6 Part 7a - The Story of Her Father and the Bear in the Way (2 of 2)

Chapter 6 Part 7b - Review Questions: The Bear in the Way

Chapter 6 Part 7c - Answers for Review Questions

Chapter 6 Part 8 - Evening with Father

Chapter 6 Part 9 - When idiots see a bear: Hey let's feed the real live teddy bear!

Chapter 7 Part 1 Introduction - Maple Syrup

Chapter 7 Part 2 - The snow is melting

Chapter 7 Part 3 - Sugar Snow

Chapter 7 Part 4 - Grandfather prepares to make maple syrup

Chapter 7 Part 5 - Grandfather harvests maple syrup

Chapter 7 Part 6 - Why is it called a sugar snow?

Chapter 7 Part 7 - Delaine Dress

Chapter 8 Part 1 - Going to Grandmother and Grandfather's House

Chapter 8 Part 2 - Grandmother and Grandfather's House

Chapter 8 Part 3 - The Wildman

Chapter 8 Part 4a: Made themselves pretty – Hair

Chapter 8 Part 4b: Made themselves pretty - Corsets

Chapter 8 Part 5: Made themselves pretty – Dresses

Chapter 8 Part 6: Competition - The Babies on the Bed

Chapter 8 Part 7: Dancing

Chapter 8 Part 8: Grandmother is the Best Dancer

Chapter 8 Part 9: The Syrup is Ready

Chapter 8 Part 10: Maple Sugar

Chapter 9 Part 1: Spring Has Come

Chapter 9 Part 2: Baby Animals

Chapter 9 Part 3: How to Curl Your Hair and Get Ready to Go to Town

Chapter 9 Part 4: Riding to Town

Chapter 9 Part 5 - What a Town Looks Like

Chapter 9 Part 6 - The Store

Chapter 9 Part 7 - Shopping

Chapter 9 Part 8 - Lunch Beside the Lake

Chapter 9 Part 9 - Going Home

Chapter 10 Part 1 SUMMERTIME


Chapter 10 Part 3 Curls and Aunt Lotty

Chapter 10 Part 4 You Must Never Hit Your Sister

Chapter 10 Part 5 Summer Work

Chapter 10 Part 6 Making Cheese

Chapter 10 Part 7 Green Cheese

Chapter 10 Part 8 Old Grimes

Chapter 10 Part 9 Honey Tree

Chapter 10 Part 10 How Her Father Got The Honey Away From The Bear

Chapter 11 Part 1 HARVEST

Chapter 11 Part 2 Work in the Farm Fields

Chapter 11 Part 3 Why Does Charley Scream?

Chapter 11 Part 4 What Happened to Charlie?

Chapter 11 Part 5 "It served the little liar right."

Chapter 12 Part 1 Making Hats

Chapter 12 Part 2 Sewing the Hats

Chapter 12 Part 3 Gathering Nuts

Chapter 12 Part 4 Pumpkin Pies

Chapter 12 Part 5 The Threshers Have Come

Chapter 12 Part 6 The Wonderful Threshing Machine

Chapter 12 Part 7 Working the Wonderful Machine

Chapter 12 Part 8 Dinner with the Threshers

Chapter 12 Part 9 Finished Threshing

by John Larrysson

[email protected]

A native English speaker who has been teaching practical English in Hong Kong for more than a decade.

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