June 25 (UPI) — A division of the American Library Association voted to remove Laura Ingalls Wilder’s name from a children’s literature award.
The Board of the Association for Library Service to Children voted unanimously on Saturday to rename the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award as the Children’s Literature Legacy Award due to the author’s portrayal of Native Americans and African Americans in her books.
“Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books have been and will continue to be deeply meaningful to many readers. Although Wilder’s work holds a significant place in the history of children’s literature and continues to be read today, ALSC has had to grapple with the inconsistency between Wilder’s legacy and its core values of inclusiveness, integrity and respect, and responsiveness through an award that bears Wilder’s name,” the ALA said.
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.
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. Only Indians lived there.”
“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 ALA said. “ALSC works within the context of our society as a whole, where the conversations taking place inform our work and help us articulate our core values and support of diverse populations.”
The ALA added the decision to change the name was made “after much consideration and fact-finding” and has “has no reflection on past winners or their achievements.”
“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. “We hope adults think critically about Wilder’s books and the discussions that can take place around them.”