Google The Unplanned Homeschooler: On the renaming of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

On the renaming of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award

This week brought the greatest controversy I have witnessed in the homeschool community since I started homeschooling nearly a decade ago. I am talking about the renaming of the Laura Ingalls Wilder award by the Association for Library Service to Children. The award is now named the Children's Literature Legacy Award, a title that the association feels better represents "its core values of inclusiveness, integrity and respect."



There was a lot of hysteria following the ALSC's announcement, including outrage that libraries would be pulling Wilder's books off the shelves, or that the edtions would be edited, or even that all books with a historical point of view that did not fit with today's values would be destroyed. While we should indeed resist a Fahrenheit 451-style world, I don't think that the renaming of this award merited so much panic.

 To be clear, I DO NOT believe in editing the work of historic authors to fit modern sensibilities - which is not what happened here. I believe that an author's work should stand as written unless they edit it themselves, on their own, before they die. We cannot and should not change the authentic voices of those who came before us, even if we disagree with what they had to say.

But I DO believe that when you know better, you should do better. And today, we know it is NOT okay to characterize Native Americans as non-people, for example. So maybe continuing to glorify an author who did so, by handing out annual awards named in her honor, is not the best example we can set for future generations. I agree with the decision to rename the award.

Our public libraries are, and should be, among the most inclusive and accessible entities in our society, and this award given to authors who have made "a significant and lasting contribution to children's literature" should reflect the values of inclusivity and respect.

 The decision to change the name of the award was respectful and inclusive to many, many readers, like my own kids who are Native American children and were uncomfortable and confused by Wilder's characterizations of minorities. It leaves her work and the honor she received by being the first recipient of the award intact, but changes the award to be better for the future. It was a positive step for all.