Her books were read and re-read by thousands, if not millions of children across the world over the years, but it seems famous American author Laura Ingalls Wilder’s writing no longer fits with the modern way of life.
The Little House on the Prairie books are classics and although they have been at the hand of much criticism due to the negative stereotyping of Native Americans over time, a decision by the American Library Association (ALA) to strip Wilder of an award has left many in shock.
The racist context highlighted throughout series has led to the decision by a division of the association to remove Wilder’s name from its children’s literature award.
Stressing that they are not deterring people from reading the books, the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) has stated it is merely because her reflections of life throughout the 1800s and views of indigenous people are “outdated”.
“Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books have been and will continue to be deeply meaningful to many readers. Although Wilder’s work holds a significant place in the history of children’s literature and continues to be read today, ALSC 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,” ALA President Jim Neal and ALSC President Nina Lindsay said in a joint statement.
“Wilder’s books are a product of her life experiences and perspective as a settler in the America’s 1800s. Her works reflect dated cultural attitudes towards indigenous people and people of colour that contradict modern acceptance, celebration and understanding of diverse communities.”
However, this had led to the question, are we being too over the top with restrictions and changes to classic children’s books? And are these books really doing harm to children who for many years have loved reading both the true stories such as Wilder’s and the favourite fairytales?
In an article published by The Telegraph it was revealed some families have chosen not to read favourite’s such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella and Rapunzel to their children because they are “too scary”.
A shocking number of parents feared these stories would lead to nightmares for their children, with 20 per cent of adults saying they refused to read Hansel and Gretel because the children were left alone in a forest and half revealing they wouldn’t even read a single fairy tale to their child until they were five-years-old.
Then there was the name changes in Enid Blyton’s much-loved The Faraway Tree series with favourite characters Fannie and Dick changed to Frannie and Rick.