In another example of political correctness gone awry, the American Library Association decided to drop Laura Ingalls Wilder’s name from a prestigious children’s literature award. According to the statement, the author, as represented by her “Little House” series, “reflect dated cultural attitudes towards indigenous people and people of color that contradict modern acceptance, celebration and understanding of diverse communities.”
Oh, please. If we are to go by that criteria, we might as well toss out an entire canon of classics including Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn — though I notice no one is renaming “The Mark Twain Prize for Humor” given annually to celebrities and rarely to actual writers.
Laura Ingalls Wilder started publishing her series of Little House books in 1932. Her first, Little House in the Big Woods, was followed with six more into the 1940s. The series told the saga of the family struggles as they pioneered the woodlands and prairies of America during the 1870s and 1880s, from Wisconsin to Minnesota to South Dakota to Iowa. The narration is from the perspective of a child named Laura, from the time she is five to seventeen.
Imagine their journey, the infernal deprivation and hard work, crops ruined by storms and grasshoppers. Or the long winter, with temperatures below zero, twisting hay into kindling before sitting to a scanty meal of potatoes and bread. Not all settlers could take it. Nor, I venture, could you or I. Instead, Pa played the fiddle, singing “Where There’s a Will There’s a Way.”