There are certain symbols in our culture and history that evoke an intensely American feeling. Apple pie, Memorial Day, and baseball are all great examples of that. The Little House on the Prairie book series written by Laura Ingalls Wilder is another distinctly American symbol. It recalls a time in American history when brave men and women left their homes in search of the American dream for themselves and their families. Now, one group of progressive librarians has decided to vilify this great American literary treasure.
The American Library Association has decided to strip Wilder’s name from the coveted “Laura Ingalls Wilder Award.” Instead, it will be called the “Children’s Literature Legacy Award.” In a statement on the change, the ALA said that they felt the change was necessary because “Wilder’s books are a product of her life experiences and perspective as a settler in America’s 1800s. Her works reflect dated cultural attitudes.” The ALA claimed that the books are patently racist, but tell that to the millions of Americans who cherish them. This is a clear leftist attempt to remove from our society those books that tell the inconvenient truth of American history.
One must wonder what “dated cultural attitudes” the ALA really had issue with. Could it be the patriotic overtones that permeated Wilder’s work? One of the most famous quotes from Little House on the Prairie paints a strong picture of the sentiments held by the settlers of that day. “The stars and stripes were fluttering bright against the rain, clear blue overhead, and their minds were saying the words before their ears heard them.” Wilder unabashedly connects the settlers to the dream they were chasing after, the American dream.
We should not punish authors for giving an accurate historical portrayal of American life. This scrubbing of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s name from her award is not only an insult to her, it is an insult to the millions of Americans who have learned more about their own history through her writings. Every generation of Americans should learn the lessons of history taught by Laura Ingalls Wilder in her books.