Laura Ingalls Wilder's name has been stripped from a prestigious book award

28 June, 2018, 09:17 | Author: Austin Daniel
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In a March Washington Post piece, Caroline Fraser, a biographer of "Little House on the Prairie" author Laura Ingalls Wilder, wrote that "her work and its reception are more complicated than we may once have believed, shedding light on the myths that white Americans have woven about the past".

The Association for Library Service to Children unanimously voted this weekend to rename the "Laura Ingalls Wilder Award" the "Children's Literature Legacy Award" due to negative depictions of Native Americans and African-Americans in Wilder's books. Most notably, the repeated injection of the racist adage, "The only good Indian is a dead Indian", has been sharply criticized. "Only Indians lived there", implied that Native Americans were not people-in response, the publisher then changed "people" to "settlers". Wilder was presented the first award in 1954, after which it was named for her and presented every five years between 1960 and 1980, every three years between 1980 and 2001, every two years between 2001 and 2015 and annually since then. Now the name of the award is the Children's Literature Legacy Award, The Post reported.

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. In 1952, she apologized amid criticism for the opening sentences of "Little House on the Prairie", which state, "there were no people".

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Elsewhere in the book, Osage tribe members are sometimes depicted as animalistic, notes the critic Philip Heldrich: In one scene, Wilder describes them as wearing a "leather thong" with "the furry skin of a small animal" hanging down in front, making "harsh sounds" and having "bold and fierce" faces with "black eyes". The semi-autobiographical books followed the trials and tribulations of her real-life family, the Ingalls, as they survived pioneer life in the American West.

Her first book, The Little House in the Big Woods was published in 1932 when she was 65. The ALSC, which is based in Chicago, said her work continues to be published and read but her "legacy is complex" and "not universally embraced". The award, reserved for authors or illustrators who have made "significant and lasting contribution to children's literature", will no longer be called the "Laura Ingalls Wilder Award".

LINDSAY: It is precisely because people should be reading and discussing Wilder's work that we recognized that we needed to change the name of the award.

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