Laura Ingalls Wilder's Name Pulled From Literary Award Over 'Stereotypical Attitudes' in Books

Caroline Fraser, author of "Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder", said that children should still read the Wilder books, despite the racial insensitivity. The ALSC says Wilder's work continues to be published and read but her "legacy is complex" and "not universally embraced".

It was followed by Little House on the Prairie in 1935, On the Banks of Plum Creek in 1937 and By the Shores of Silver Lake in 1939.

"This decision was made in consideration of the fact that 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", the association said in a statement.


For years, the American Library Association has given out a children's literature award named for Laura Ingalls Wilder. "Only Indians lived there", implied that Native Americans were not people-in response, the publisher then changed "people" to "settlers".

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

An editor at Harper's made a decision 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. But let's just take a minute to remember the terrible way Wilder described the Native Americans her family encountered.


The editor at Harper's who received the reader's complaint wrote back saying it was "unbelievable" to her that not a single person at Harper's ever noticed, for almost 20 years, that the sentence appeared to imply that Native Americans were not people, according to a 2007 biography of Wilder by Pamela Smith Hill.

Something readers may tend to forget is that Little House on the Prairie and the related books in the series are something of a hybrid in terms of historical fiction.

Throughout the series, multiple characters remark "the only good Indian is a dead Indian" and Wilder described one setting as a place where "there were no people". She wrote that they smelled of skunk, had hard, glittering eyes and came constantly to the little house demanding food and tobacco.


In changing the award's name, the library association attempted to navigate this tension. Fraser stated that Wilder's work "vividly, unforgettably ... still tells truths about white settlement, homesteading and the violent appropriation of Indian land and culture".

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