Laura Ingalls Wilder's name removed from national book award

It follows concerns over racist depictions in her 'Little House on the Prairie' series.
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Laura Ingalls Wilder's name has been removed from a children's book award over concerns of how her writings depicted black people and Native Americans.

The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), which is part of the American Library Association, voted on Monday to change the name of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award to the Children's Literature Legacy Award.

Wilder's famous "Little House on the Prairie" books chronicled her youth growing up in late 19th Century Minnesota and Wisconsin.

But the ALCS has received complaints for years of how it depicts and dehumanizes native and black people, according to the BBC.

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The news organization notes one of her opening chapters started by describing a land with "no people. Only Indians lived there," which was changed from "people" to "settlers" by the publishing company in 1953.

Other passages refer to black characters as "darkies," while at one point one character says: "The only good Indian is a dead Indian."

The ALCS award, which recognizes "significant and lasting contribution to children's literature," was first given to Wilder in 1953 and named after her.

But in its statement on Monday, the ALCS said that while her books "will continue to be deeply meaningful to many readers," the ALCS "has had to grapple with the inconsistency between Wilder’s legacy and its core values of inclusiveness, integrity and respect, and responsiveness through an award that bears Wilder’s name."

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“Wilder’s books are a product of her life experiences and perspective as a settler in America’s 1800s," it continues.

"Her works reflect dated cultural attitudes toward Indigenous people and people of color that contradict modern acceptance, celebration, and understanding of diverse communities."

It says the name change is not an attempt to "censor, limit or deter access" to Wilder's works, "but rather as an effort to align the award’s title with ALSC’s core values."

"Updating the award's name should not be construed as censorship, as we are not demanding that anyone stop reading Wilder’s books, talking about them, or making them available to children," it adds. "We hope adults think critically about Wilder’s books and the discussions that can take place around them."

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