In Defense of a Great Children’s Writer!

As an English teacher, a writer and a critical thinker, I was shocked to hear that Laura Ingalls Wilder has been posthumously deprived of a great honor bestowed upon her in 1954. The Laura Ingalls Wilder Award has been changed to The Children’s Literature Legacy Award for no justifiable reason! It was said that there were”stereotypical attitudes” in her books.

This famous and beloved author wrote about the world in which she lived. The main characters in her books represented her own family, who treated neighbors of different races with fairness, respect,and often deep friendship and love. In contrast, other characters often represented in their attitudes other facets of the 19th century rural society, in which Mrs. Wilder lived.

We can’t and shouldn’t even try to erase history, but instead, we should try to learn from it! The attitude and actions of people from that time were often at odds with people like the Ingalls, but in writing about a previous era, the one in which Mrs. Wilder lived, the author had to be truthful in depicting the societal attitudes of that time. Then, she could oppose the prejudices, as she did, by contrasting them with the Ingalls family, who fought prejudice in various ways and defended those who were persecuted.

It seems as though those who want to discredit Mrs. Wilder by taking away an honor that she deserves, do not understand what she was trying to express by contrasting the kindness and compassion of the Ingalls towards all people against the backdrop of a society in which there were racism and other types of intolerance. We have moved on as a society since then with attitudes of acceptance, tolerance, respect and love, but that does not give us the right to erase parts of our history.

Let us not erase it but continue to learn from it and never make the same mistakes again in both attitude and actions!

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