Association Removes Laura Ingalls Wilder's Name from Award

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First published in 1932, Wilder's "Little House on the Prairie" series was written for children, recounting the author's experience growing up on the Midwestern frontier in the late 19 century.

The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association, announced over the weekend that it voted to strip Laura Ingalls Wilder's name from a major children's book award.

"The ALSC stated though, that her books "[include] expressions of stereotypical attitudes inconsistent with ALSC's core values" based on Wilder's portrayal of black people and Native Americans. "Only Indians lived there", implied that Native Americans were not people-in response, the publisher then changed "people" to "settlers". Wilder was presented the first award in 1954, after which it was named for her and presented every five years between 1960 and 1980, every three years between 1980 and 2001, every two years between 2001 and 2015 and annually since then. But she also says your average 8-year-old shouldn't have to read the "Little House" books without some background. But let's just take a minute to remember the very bad way Wilder described the Native Americans her family encountered.

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The associations stressed that the action "should not be viewed as an attempt to censor, limit, or deter access to Wilder's books and materials" or be seen as "a call for readers to change their personal relationship with or feelings about Wilder's books".

Elsewhere in the book, Osage tribe members are sometimes depicted as animalistic, notes the critic Philip Heldrich: In one scene, Wilder describes them as wearing a "leather thong" with "the furry skin of a small animal" hanging down in front, making "harsh sounds" and having "bold and fierce" faces with "black eyes". Defenders of the books have also pointed out that the fictional child version of "Laura" actually questions her parents' racism in the books on more than one occasion.

The character who is Laura Ingalls's mother, Caroline Ingalls, is not subtle in her hatred of the Native Americans, saying repeatedly she doesn't like them, before she has even encountered them.

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Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867-1957) as a schoolteacher, 1887. Although Wilder's books continue to be widely read, the organization says her "legacy is complex" and "not universally embraced".

"Each generation revises the literary canon".

"But no white American should be able to avoid the history it has to tell".

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