The American Library Association struck Laura Ingalls Wilder’s name from a prestigious book award over her work’s dated portrayal of other races.
“Her works reflect dated cultural attitudes toward Indigenous people and people of color that contradict modern acceptance, celebration, and understanding of diverse communities,” read a statement from the children’s branch.
“ALSC has had to grapple with the inconsistency between Wilder’s legacy and its core values of inclusiveness, integrity and respect.”
Ingalls’s “Little House” series, the first book of which was published over 80 years ago, has been a wildly popular choice for children’s reading since its first printing. The stories recount the author’s childhood as an early settler in America while her mother, father, and sisters traipsed farther into new American territory.
The 1970s television show based on the books reintroduced a younger generation to Ingalls’s stories.
Some of the depictions of early Native Americans, however, have sparked outrage in recent years.
A character also refers to them as “wild animals” who do not deserve to live on the land they occupy.
“Little Town on the Prairie” also makes a reference to “five black-faced men in raggedy-taggedy uniforms.”
The series faced a reckoning in 1998 when a third-grade girl from the Upper Sioux Reservation in Minnesota cried after her teacher read the part of “Little House on the Prairie” where a character says, “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.”
Her mother unsuccessfully fought to have the books taken off the school’s curriculum.
The Laura Ingalls Wilder Award will now be referred to as the Children’s Literature Legacy Award. The change was made over the weekend by the board of the Association for Library Service to Children.
The ALA insisted that the move is not an attempt to censor or prevent children’s access to the books.
“We hope adults think critically about Wilder’s books and the discussions that can take place around them,” ALA President Jim Neal and ALSC President Nina Lindsay said.
The award, which recognizes authors who have contributed gems to children’s literature, was first bestowed upon Wilder herself in 1954. Those honored with it since include Dr. Seuss and E. B. White. This year’s winner was Jacqueline Woodson, author of “Brown Girl Dreaming.”