Little House on the Prairie author dropped from award for racist content

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A division of the American Library Association voted unanimously over the weekend to strip Laura Ingalls Wilder's name from a major children's book award because of the way she portrayed blacks and Native Americans in her popular "Little House on the Prairie" books.

The Laura Ingalls Wilder Award will become the Children's Literature Legacy Award for the 2018 award cycle.

The TV series of the same name, inspired by the books, ran from 1974 until 1983, and starred Melissa Gilbert as Wilder.

The ALSC is part of the American Library Association, founded in 1876.

"It continues to be a focus of scholarship and literary analysis, which often brings to light anti-Native and anti-Black sentiments in her work", the board said at the time. However, "her works reflect dated cultural attitudes toward Indigenous people and people of color that contradict modern acceptance, celebration, and understanding of diverse communities". That description was changed in later editions of the book.

Rather, they described it simply as "an effort to align the award's title with ALSC's core values".

Debbie Reese, a scholar and the founder of American Indians In Children's Literature, tweeted that the vote to change the award's name was a "significant and historic moment" but still only a step.

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

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It has since become a staple of children's literature in the USA and around the world, spawning multiple literary spinoffs, merchandise, and a wildly popular television series in 1974. But let's just take a minute to remember the bad way Wilder described the Native Americans her family encountered.

The book includes multiple statements from characters saying, "The only good Indian is a dead Indian".

But there was also pushback within the text.

The full body of Wilder's work in the end convinced the ALSC to make its decision, though.

Wilder was given the first award in 1954, and E. B. White and Dr. Seuss are two other famous recipients of the Wilder Award.

The ALSC first announced their intention to revisit the award's name in February, and chose to change it after a meeting over the weekend.

"Whether we love Wilder or hate her, we should know her", she wrote. The white settlers are clearly on the land of Osage tribe.

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