Little House & the Big Controversy
I feel the need, as a writer, to weigh in on the latest controversy surrounding the American Library Association's decision to strip Laura Ingalls Wilder's name from the Assoc. for Library Service for Children's literature award. If you haven't heard about this, here is an article about it from NPR: ARTICLE
I love the Little House books. So much so that as a little girl, I wanted to don a little gingham dress and bonnet, climb into the nearest covered wagon and head out west to live just like Laura Ingalls did. I loved and was inspired by the stories when I was young, and I read them to my daughters twice over. I'll always love them for what they are, an unsentimental depiction of life in the American West, when it took courage and fortitude and strong family bonds to survive. Having said that, I also acknowledge that some of the attitudes in the books are very much "of their time," and when reading to my daughters I felt the need to point this out, as in, this was wrong, and we know better now.
Having said that, I have no problem with the ALA and the Association for Library Service to Children changing the name of the award. It's not censorship, it's merely changing the name of an award to be all inclusive, and to reflect our society at the current time in a way the former name did not. No one is suggesting censuring or banning Wilder's books. The decision wasn't made lightly. It's not about changing history. It's not even about the books really, it's about the award, and if the name doesn't reflect the spirit of the award, then it only makes sense to change it.
So, I hope people continue to read these books, read them to their kids, and have discussions and teaching moments about what's absolutely wonderful and what's just plain wrong about them, and about the time in our history they portray.