I hope you’re sitting down as you read this, because I have some news that may surprise– nay, shock– you. It turns out Laura Ingalls Wilder did not have attitudes towards race that would be considered politically correct in the modern world.
If you were shocked by that, I guess you weren’t alone. Over the weekend, the Association of Library Service to Children (ALSC), which is part of the larger American Library Association decided that the annual Laura Ingalls Wilder Award will no longer carry that name.
Since the award’s namesake received the award herself in 1954, the award has honored “an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made, over a period of years, a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.”
The ALSC said:
Wilder’s body of work continues to be a focus of scholarship and literary analysis, which often brings to light anti-Native and anti-Black sentiments in her work. Her books continue to be published, read, and widely used with contemporary children. ALSC recognizes the author’s legacy is complex and Wilder’s work is not universally embraced.
ALSC works to promote excellence in literature for children that aligns with our core values of inclusiveness, integrity and respect, and responsiveness, as well as to our strategic plan. While we are committed to preserving access to Wilder’s work for readers, we must also consider if her legacy today does justice to this particular award for lifetime achievement, given by an organization committed to all children.
Meanwhile, they tried to make it not insulting to Ingalls Wilder by adding “As we undertake this work, we reaffirm the honor bestowed upon past Wilder Award recipients, whose life work contributes essentially to ALSC’s vision of engaging communities to build healthy, successful futures for all children.”
Fox News reports that this insanity was greeted by a standing ovation, because this is 2018. Apparently nobody considered that Ingalls Wilder was born in 1867 or that she apologized for and even amended some of the text in her own lifetime.
It will now simply be called the Children’s Literature Legacy Award, probably because every single person they could think of is problematic, or will be at some point in the future. Then again, so is the very concept of winning. Best just to do away with it altogether lest one of the other nominees be offended.