The Association for Library Service to Children has stripped Laura Ingalls Wilder’s name from the “Laura Ingalls Wilder Award” for children’s literature. It will now be known as the Children’s Literature Legacy Award. “This decision was made in consideration of the fact that Wilder’s legacy, as represented by her body of work, includes expressions of stereotypical attitudes inconsistent with ALSC’s core values of inclusiveness, integrity and respect, and responsiveness.” – The Association for Library Service to Children
The Association, applying 21st century mores, has now decided that the Ingalls books are racist and bigoted.
Worse, Ingalls and Rose Wilder Lane — Wilder’s collaborator, editor, and daughter — have been associated with libertarian ideas (the horror).
The Little House books are a world in which commerce and devotion to family and community are essential ingredients in community life. It was private initiative, private commerce, and families that drove the settlement of the American frontier. Government officials, on the other hand, were largely invisible.
Granted, the series rarely invoked the violence that took place in removing the indigenous populations from the frontier, and race issues were largely ignored, which apparently was too much for the people at the Association for Library Service to Children to handle.
The Little House books re-cast the American frontier from the male-dominated narratives of the “traditional” Westerns, avoiding gun violence and government law enforcement officials. Instead, the Wilder books put a central emphasis on themes of commerce, family, women, children, education, and religious faith. Brawls in whiskey-soaked saloons were not part of the narrative structure.
Rather than a gunslinger, “Pa,” was rarely armed and accomplished his heroism through peaceful means. He was if anything only in service to his family — composed mostly of females.
Wilder did not buy into American life as one of “rugged individualism”, but offered that building a town or community of any sort requires community action.
It is through the action of several townspeople working together in The Long Winter that starvation is avoided.
Not perfect, but the Little House books still promote community, service, charity, and the role of women in American society.