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

Controversy The board voted unanimously to remove Wilder's name at their annual meeting over the weekend due to her anti-black and anti Native writings

Controversy The board voted unanimously to remove Wilder's name at their annual meeting over the weekend due to her anti-black and anti Native writings

A division of the American Library Association voted to remove Laura Ingalls Wilder's name from a children's literature award.

The TV series of the same name, inspired by the books, ran from 1974 until 1983, and starred Melissa Gilbert as Wilder.

"Changing the name of the award should not be viewed as an attempt to censor, limit, or deter access to Wilder's books and materials, but rather as an effort to align the award's title with ALSC's core values", the association said. The ALSC says Wilder's work continues to be published and read but her "legacy is complex" and "not universally embraced".

The ALSC first announced their intention to revisit the award's name in February, and made a decision to change it after a meeting over the weekend.

In its letter to the ALSC, the LIWLRA noted that "no human is untarnished", and stressed that Wilder deserves continued recognition for supporting libraries and educational initiatives across America, and for representing "the ability of an individual to not only overcome a hard past and upbringing, but also to tell the story of those obstacles so that future generations may grow and learn".

"Her works reflect dated cultural attitudes toward Indigenous people and people of color", a statement from the Association said. That description was changed in later editions of the book.

The Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association released a statement defending Wilder's work.

An adult re-read reveals several characters, including Wilder's mother, saying things like "The only good Indian is a dead Indian", as well as romanticizing themes of American supremacy and manifest destiny.

Dr. Debbie Reese, an advocate of the change and founder of American Indians in Children's Literature, called the move a "significant and historic moment", but noted that "the backlash to the change is already evident".

While her father, as portrayed in the books, takes a more nuanced approach to Native Americans in some places, he also described one Indian as "no common trash" because "that was French he spoke". When one character, Mr. Scott, says it, Wilder wrote, "Pa said he didn't know about that".

Fraser, the Wilder biographer, wrote in her Post piece that the award's name itself was ultimately secondary to the continued value in assessing her work.

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

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