Laura Ingalls Wilder's name removed from children's book award

Commons

Ingalls was the first recipient of the award, which honors authors or illustrators whose books were published in the United States and had "a significant and lasting contribution to children's literature", in 1954 for her Little House on the Prairie book series. The ALSC said Wilder's work continued to be published and read but her "legacy is complex" and "not universally embraced".

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"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.

For years, the American Library Association has given out a children's literature award named for Laura Ingalls Wilder. "Only Indians lived there", Wilder wrote.

Harper's in 1953 made a decision to change "people" to "settlers" but other criticisms focused on her depictions of Native Americans and some African Americans.

"Changing the name of the award, or ending the award and establishing a new award, does not prohibit access to Wilder's works or suppress discussion about them".

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Until her death in 1957 she was beloved for the semi-autobiographical "Little House" children's books, fictionalised versions of her family's adventures travelling the western frontier in their covered wagon and its encounters with 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".

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".

"We believe it is not beneficial to the body of literature to sweep away her name as though the perspectives in her books never existed", they said.

"Whether we love Wilder or hate her, we should know her", she wrote. The characters of "Pa" and "Ma" are frequently furious and fearful of Indians, which while realistic to a point, certainly doesn't tell the entire story of history.

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