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Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Name Removed From Award Over Racism Concerns

Laura Ingalls Wilder

Flickr: Lorie Shaull,
Little House on the Prairie Book at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum, Pepin Wisconsin

Popular children’s book author Laura Ingalls Wilder will have her name removed from a major children’s book award, after concerns over potentially offensive racial depictions in her books, which were first published in the 1930s.

The board of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association, made the unanimous decision to remove the name of the author at a meeting in New Orleans on Saturday.

Effectively, the name of the prize was changed from the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award to the Children’s Literature Legacy Award.

The association reportedly said the vote “was greeted by a standing ovation by the audience in attendance.”

The first award ever was given to Wilder in 1954. The ALSC, which is based in Chicago, said her work continues to be published and read but her “legacy is complex” and “not universally embraced.”

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 19th century.

It has since become a staple of children’s literature in the U.S. and around the world, spawning multiple literary spinoffs, merchandise, and a wildly popular television series in 1974. The books have been widely credited with chronicling the experience of ordinary settlers eking a life in a rapidly growing nation.

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.

In the late 1990s, scholar Waziyatawin Angela Cavender Wilson approached the Yellow Medicine East School District after her daughter came home crying because of a line in the book, first attributed to Gen. Philip Sheridan but a common saying by that time: “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.”

Wilder, who was born in 1867 and died in 1957, has apologized for some of her thoughtless phrasings, even amended a line in “Little House on the Prairie” that read Kansas had ‘no people, only Indians.’ It now reads, ‘no settlers, only Indians.’

Some applaud the ALSC for taking measures to correct oppressive outdated racial attitudes, but other readers and critics argue that Wilder certainly had no ill intent and that her books — like all art, were merely a reflection of the social mores of their times. Such issues, of course, can lead to the greater subject of censorship as well.

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0 Comment

  1. Sam Thompson July 21, 2018

    If we keep removing history that we dont like how will we learn what not to do. He who does not learn from history is condemned to repeat history. Somebody smarter than me said that.

  2. Sandra Gutowski July 21, 2018

    Yup the racism is against whites

  3. Erica Lamothe July 21, 2018

    The award is still there so I don’t care

  4. Katie Mary Janusz-Kress July 21, 2018

    Is Mark Twain next??

    1. Harold Kines July 21, 2018

      Likely being his books are banned in school

  5. Ellen Evgenides July 21, 2018

    Don’t try to rewrite history

  6. Martha Steeves July 21, 2018

    Stupid liberal hypocrisy.

  7. Cory Sithspawn Presnell July 21, 2018

    Modern definitions of racism can not be accurately and intellectually honestly applied to older literature.

    Was there racist sentiments in the text? Sure.

    It was written at a time, about a time, that were far more overtly racist. So of course there’s going to be overt racism contained in the text.

    We learn from history. History can not learn from us.

    Juding *then* by *now’s* standards…is just juvenile.

  8. Carol Funk July 21, 2018

    That is so stupid

  9. Pat Ward July 21, 2018

    White Supremacy is too politicaly correct. History books and the Bible should be ban for racism.

  10. Gail Ladella July 21, 2018


  11. Peca Blanco July 21, 2018

    Are you serious? The award still there!!!

  12. Carla Cox July 21, 2018

    Like it or not, her books reveal truth about America in that era. And to judge them with today’s taboos is WRONG.

  13. Doug Bryant July 21, 2018

    We could be carrying this racist thing too far . There is not a man born who has zero prejudice. To recognize it and right the wrong is the hard part.

  14. Gary J. Weber July 21, 2018

    An dem crackers think day is da ony racists.

  15. Dellene Garlock July 21, 2018

    Makes no sense.

  16. Frank Cromis July 21, 2018

    P C is so stupid


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