Posted on July 27, 2018 at 1:30 PM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek
Many of our readers reacted with outrage over the decision to rename an award that previously honored Laura Ingalls Wilder.
We admit to having fuzzy memories of the questionable passages, and we weren’t alone.
Author Stephanie Stokes Oliver, who is black, wrote recently about revisiting her beloved copies of the Little House series after the name-change brouhaha broke.
The passages hadn’t seared themselves into her memories — in fact, she recalled happily finding the similarities between white pioneer Laura and herself — but their existence didn’t shock her.
After I dusted (Little Town on the Prairie) off and opened it gently, the first random page I flipped to depicted a drawing of Pa in a blackface minstrel show. The passage next to the sketch describes Laura trying to figure out if the “darky” playing the bones is Pa.
Oliver doesn’t want us to destroy any of Wilder’s work and will in fact keep her own collection, even as she supports the decision to change the award’s name.
For her, the books may have lost their nostalgic luster upon revisiting the “distasteful portrayals,” but they fit into the evolution of children’s literature into a more inclusive state. (A process she's watched as she raised a daughter in the 1980s and 1990s and as she now gives books to a young granddaughter.)
So, then, why rename the award?
Oliver turns to Maya Angelou for that: “When you know better, you do better.”