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Little slight on the prairie? Book group removes Laura Ingalls Wilder's name from a national award

Posted: Mon, Jul 2, 2018 9:13 AM

The Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, has voted to change the name of the "Laura Ingalls Wilder Award" to the "Children's Literature Legacy Award."

ALA President Jim Neal and ALSC President Nina Lindsay released a statement which said, "Laura Ingalls Wilder's books have been and will continue to be deeply meaningful to many readers," but then added, "Wilder's books are a product of her life experiences and perspective as a settler in America's 1800s. Her works reflect dated cultural attitudes toward Indigenous people and people of color that contradict modern acceptance, celebration, and understanding of diverse communities."
The two concluded, "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.  This change should not be viewed as a call for readers to change their personal relationship with or feelings about Wilder's books. Updating the award's name should not be construed as censorship, as we are not demanding that anyone stop reading Wilder's books, talking about them, or making them available to children. We hope adults think critically about Wilder's books and the discussions that can take place around them."

In 1876, when Laura was nine years old, the Ingalls family left Walnut Grove, Minnesota, after suffering through two years of grasshopper plagues. They traveled to Burr Oak to help manage the Masters Hotel, owned by their friend, William Steadman, also from Walnut Grove.  The Masters Hotel is the only childhood home of Laura Ingalls Wilder that remains on its original site. It is registered on the National Register of Historical Places.