Laura Ingalls Wilder's name removed from book award over racism concerns

Laura Ingalls Wilder's name removed from book award over racism concerns

The book's opening chapter has Pa, who was modeled after Wilder's own father, discussing his desire to go to unoccupied land where "there were no people".

And where "there were no people. Only Indians lived there", Wilder wrote.

An editor at Harper's chose to change the word "people" to "settlers" in 1953, though that did little to silence critics who characterized such wording as racist, according to The Washington Post.

Now, after years of complaints, the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, says it voted Saturday to strip Wilder's name from the award. Columbus Day is now Indigenous Peoples' Day in some places.

Despite the tremendous success of the semiautobiographical series, the Chicago-based American Library Association over the weekend made a decision to rescind Wilder's Medal for Excellence in Children's literature, a prestigious designation in the children's literary world.

Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867-1957) as a schoolteacher, 1887.

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It will now be called the Children's Literature Legacy Award.

The ALSC said in a statement: "Wilder's legacy, as represented by her body of work, includes expressions of stereotypical attitudes inconsistent with ALSC's core values of inclusiveness, integrity and respect, and responsiveness". They simply are no longer naming their highest award after Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Her books depicted her family's adventures traveling the Western frontier and also were adapted into a TV series, "Little House on the Prairie". But, as many teachers and scholars have pointed out for years, the books are riddled with historical errors, most of which are connected to United States policy toward native Indians. Previously, the organization had noted the "anti-Native and anti-Black sentiments" in Wilder's writing.

Some applaud the ALSC for taking measures to correct oppressive outdated racial attitudes, but other readers and critics argue that Wilder certainly had no ill intent and that her books - like all art, were merely a reflection of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.

"It would be easy to take these books off the shelf, to say that they - like many books of their time - were steeped in white supremacy and racism and therefore they do not belong in our canon", James Noonan, a research affiliate with the Justice In Schools project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, wrote on the university's website.

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