EVERYONE Has Read This but Me - The Catch-Up Book Club discussion

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[ARCHIVES] FOR FUN > Laura Ingles Wilder's name removed from children's lit award

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message 1: by Catie (new)

Catie Currie | 97 comments Does anyone have any thoughts about this? I can't believe I didn't notice any of this when I was reading the Little House books as a kid.
://www.vox.com/platform/amp/culture/2018...


message 2: by Laura H (new)

Laura H (laurah30) | 570 comments I think there are many books out there that make us feel uncomfortable in the 21st century because they confirm the white privilege bias. I hope the lesson from this is that we can have some empathy for the person reading these “beloved books” from childhood who does not see themselves fairly represented. I hope that teachers are considering what is being read in class and whether it reflects the diversity within the classroom and whether it is promoting inclusivity. There are so many great books out there - we don’t have to cling to old favourites that contribute to negative stereotypes and make people feel like they don’t belong. That’s not what good literature is about.


message 3: by Maurita (new)

Maurita (mauritajoyce) | 13 comments Laura very well said!


message 4: by Jacqueline (new)

Jacqueline Great literature is about telling a story and Laura is telling her story. It wouldn’t be her story without telling it exactly how it was when she was young. With the racism included. You can’t learn about how things were if you stop reading the books just because they are uncomfortable to you now. Or if you ban them.

Books like these still need to be taught at school. There needs to be discussion in class about the attitudes of people in the past and how far we have come (or haven’t) in the meantime. The books present an opportunity to learn from history. And to discuss the current attitudes to race. The ideal and what is actually happening out there.

History happened and you can’t ignore it just because it wasn’t “inclusive”. Sometimes I believe people go too far with what they get outraged and offended at. You can’t change history. You can only learn from it.


message 5: by Laura H (new)

Laura H (laurah30) | 570 comments Jacqueline wrote: "Great literature is about telling a story and Laura is telling her story. It wouldn’t be her story without telling it exactly how it was when she was young. With the racism included. You can’t lear..."

To be clear, I did not say the book should be banned. Nor would I call it great literature. What I am suggesting is that we should step back and look at these things from the perspective of impact on our students and the communities in which we live.

If you wanted to teach about bias using this book as an an example, I could support that. But forcing students to read books that hold on to negative stereotypes such as "the only good Indian is a dead Indian" is not the way to go. Think of the impact of that commentary on our students - it's hurtful, it's racist. It doesn't belong in today's classrooms. It doesn't belong in today's society.
Students should feel safe and included in their classrooms. There are lots of great books out there so choose something else.

So let's learn from our history and show some discernment when selecting quality literature for our classrooms.


message 6: by Jacqueline (new)

Jacqueline You may not have said to ban it but many would if it doesn’t conform to their views.

I still believe that these books need to be recognised and taught from an historical viewpoint. Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn are no different. Many of the classics show the -isms of the time. It does not make them less worthwhile as learning tools. Or works of literature.

I would wholeheartedly agree with you about a book written now set in the modern day using the stereotypes but books written then about things that actually happened to the writer......that’s a completely different thing. Even books written now about that time in history showing peoples attitudes to other races have a valid place. You cannot erase history no matter how much you try.

Yes people should be taught to be nice to everyone and that everyone should be included and that no race is more privileged than another but I’m pretty sure reading Little House is not going to make them into bigots. Especially if they have great teachers helping them with the differences from throughout history.

But I can see that my sore texting thumb would only get sorer (app on an iPhone) and you would still believe that I am wrong....and I believe that not reading what things were like in the past and what people actually thought is no way to move on.


message 7: by DebsD (last edited Jun 28, 2018 12:20AM) (new)

DebsD | 7 comments Nobody is suggesting banning, or not teaching, or even not reading the LIW books. Her name has been removed from a children's literature award (note: the award has not been removed from her books - it has simply been renamed for future award winners). I think that's entirely appropriate and the right decision. Here's part of the statement from the Association for Library Service to Children, who manage this award:

“ALSC has had to grapple with the inconsistency between Wilder’s legacy and its core values of inclusiveness, integrity and respect, and responsiveness through an award that bears Wilder’s name,” ALSC said in its announcement, adding that its decision to remove Wilder’s name from the award was not in any way censorship.

“We are not demanding that anyone stop reading Wilder’s books, talking about them, or making them available to children,” the statement says. “We hope adults think critically about Wilder’s books and the discussions that can take place around them.”



message 8: by Renee (new)

Renee (elenarenee) I guess its changed for the same reason Confederate statues are being taken down.

I think it is important to remember our past. That means all of it. We learn by example. If all the examples are cleansed will we progress? Only time will tell


message 9: by Chrissy (new)

Chrissy eckert We can remember our past without glorifying the negatives.

I fully agree w/ Laura: "If you wanted to teach about bias using this book as an an example, I could support that. But forcing students to read books that hold on to negative stereotypes such as "the only good Indian is a dead Indian" is not the way to go. Think of the impact of that commentary on our students - it's hurtful, it's racist."


message 10: by Jacinta (new)

Jacinta | 62 comments I think one of the things that makes literature so important is that it allows us to experience the world through someone else's eyes. This shift in perspective teaches us emotional intelligence and empathy (some of the reasons I give my students when they inevitably ask why they have to learn about fiction when they'll "never need it again"), helping us to understand why other people have different opinions or values than we do. That includes biases; I believe it's helpful for people of all ages to understand why another person might hold a view we consider abhorrent. We can't make the world kinder or more accepting unless we understand where the hate is coming from.

There is no perfect time in history when all people accepted and loved one another without reservation (today included!). Instead of pretending that we can make history prettier by renaming it, we should just approach it with thoughtfulness. For example, read Gone with the Wind, but read Native Son, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, or The Bluest Eye as well. Take a walk in someone else's shoes. :)

*Full disclosure: I have never read any Laura Ingalls Wilder, so I can't speak to her work directly. I do agree with Jacqueline, though, in pointing to books like Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.


message 11: by Erin (new)

Erin It seems ridiculous to me. The Little House books were written about Laura's experience growing up in the times she lived in.

Maybe the book and publishing world should focus more on the hiring of diverse people in editing and other roles, instead of changing the names of awards.


message 12: by Jenna (new)

Jenna | 48 comments I agree. I think while offensive to today’s pc society, it needs to be remembered that they were written in the past using that society’s viewpoints.
Sorry but there are a ton of books out there written in an pc past that are offensive in today’s culture. But if we don’t remember an d learn from the past, we’ll never advance/improve & we’ll repeat our mistakes.
If offended, don’t read it.


message 13: by Gil-or (readingbooksinisrael) (last edited Jun 30, 2018 11:48AM) (new)

Gil-or (readingbooksinisrael) (meirathefirst) | 109 comments Jacqueline wrote: "Great literature is about telling a story and Laura is telling her story. It wouldn’t be her story without telling it exactly how it was when she was young. With the racism included. You can’t lear..."

I have to disagree about the teaching in school. As a Jew if I had been sat in a school in a non-Jewish country with a non-Jewish teacher and we had learned books with anti-Semitism I would have felt scared and alienated. It's more important to make sure Native kids feel safe than to hear Laura's story.

Obviously I don't believe it should be banned but my point stands.

You probably don't know this, but a lot of Jewish kidlit talks about incidents like that. Where a teacher reads an anti-Semitic passage from a book, or declares that Xmas is a national holiday, or classmates play a game where they pretend to be Nazis. The books talk about how unsafe kids feel when these incidents happen and talk about how they're wrong and how the kids can deal with them and their feelings from them.

Anyways, I'm definitely going to try to get the Birchbark books.


message 14: by Jenna (new)

Jenna | 48 comments you make some good points.
i didn't realize it was a part of a schools cirriculum.
personally, i never read the books. i did watch the tv show in syndication when i was a kid.
i think if presented to children, then it should be stressed that the books are a product of their time and x...so&so...etc. is what is wrong with that viewpoint.


未知生焉知死 Anvil | 5 comments "Where a teacher reads an anti-Semitic passage from a book, or declares that Xmas is a national holiday, or classmates play a game where they pretend to be Nazis. The books talk about how unsafe kids feel when these incidents happen and talk about how they're wrong and how the kids can deal with them and their feelings from them."

I'm from S. Korea where X-mas is an official national holiday and no one gets triggered, feels offended by it even though majority of S. Koreans are non-christians (Buddhists, non-religous people etc...). Seriously, what is wrong with an Amercan teacher declaring X-mas is a national holiday in the U.S which has been a Chritian country for hundreds, is a country founede by mostly Christians? Do Jews really feel offended by it there? Wow, the minorities in the U.S are really like that? Just wow. Mind boggling.... even to me being a Dawkins like aggressive atheist.


Gil-or (readingbooksinisrael) (meirathefirst) | 109 comments Moot wrote: ""Where a teacher reads an anti-Semitic passage from a book, or declares that Xmas is a national holiday, or classmates play a game where they pretend to be Nazis. The books talk about how unsafe ki..."

America is not supposed to be a Christian country.

I phrased what I meant to say wrong. Not a national holiday, but a cultural holiday, that all Americans celebrate Christmas and if you don't, well then.

Not offended, alienated.


message 17: by Calypsa (new)

Calypsa | 14 comments I honestly don't understand that tendency of Associations and other organisations these days to remove names of differents prestigious positions, like awards, simply because something in their work, or something in their personal life, unrelated to their work, offends some people. As lots of people already mentioned, there's a historic reference to get in Wilder's books, but the point is very far from this. Actually, Wilder related her past, but did she ever show any signs of racism herself, as an individual. Her books, being classics, great litterature or not, haven't changed status as time passed. People changed. Society changed. The books haven't and the reason the award was named after Wilder shouldn't have changed either since her books are and were classics at the time her name has been given to the award,

Society tries to please too many people by means that are unrelated to the reality of things, and it makes me sad. The name of the award has nothing to do with the content of the books Wilder wrote, it is in recognition of the importance of the author in children litterature and history.

I understand the concern of people towards the impact the books might have on children if introduced to them inadequately, but I don't understand why people have to try and remove the name of an unjustified offender from its righfully deserved place.


message 18: by STEPHEN (new)

STEPHEN MACPHERSON | 71 comments I would categorize myself as a liberal, I would say I lean left on most issues, however, this is where liberals lose their credibility. Instead of completely erasing Wilder's name from the award, embrace it, while acknowledging that her writings are now deemed culturally unacceptable. As Americans, we should face our past insensitivities instead of a complete erasure (as liberals tend to do), or attempt to change the narrative (as many on the right tend to do). Let's face it warts and all.


message 19: by Ranette (new)

Ranette (ranette1) | 0 comments I taught her books on the Ute Indian Reservation in Utah. The students, mostly Ute, were surprised by the prejudice in the book, but as we discussed it, they can to see how this was part of the times.
They also confronted the dislike some of them felt for whites in our area. It helped all of us to be kinder to each other. Taking award-winning books of shelves or removing the award is foolish, just as any banning of books was years ago.

Let' discuss these books with fairness and diplomacy. Kids are smarter than you think and much can be learned from them.


message 20: by Catie (new)

Catie Currie | 97 comments I just feel like, first of all, the ALA can do whatever they want with their own award. If they feel like something goes against the organization's principles, they have every right to remove it from their award. Renaming the award is a far cry from banning the books. Also, I don't believe it's unreasonable to not want to hold up a racist book as a gold standard. Awards should be named after books that, at the very least, don't show racism and other types of hatred without also demonstrating that they're wrong. There's a difference between a main character participating in or enjoying a minstrel show without any kind of realization or growth that it's wrong and a retelling of mistakes made in the past with a clear indication that it was a problem. If it was made clear through narration or dialogue or reprecussions of some kind in the story, there wouldn't be an issue. The issue is not that the books are telling a history that should be erased, it's that it's showing the horrible issues of the day in a good light, as if it's normal and ok. We don't keep reading outdated textbooks for a reason, they don't reflect what we understand to be true anymore.


message 21: by Jenna (new)

Jenna | 48 comments Calypsa wrote: "I honestly don't understand that tendency of Associations and other organisations these days to remove names of differents prestigious positions, like awards, simply because something in their work..."

U make some great points.


message 22: by Laura H (new)

Laura H (laurah30) | 570 comments Catie wrote: "I just feel like, first of all, the ALA can do whatever they want with their own award. If they feel like something goes against the organization's principles, they have every right to remove it fr..."

I agree, Catie - well written!


message 23: by STEPHEN (new)

STEPHEN MACPHERSON | 71 comments Ranette wrote: "I taught her books on the Ute Indian Reservation in Utah. The students, mostly Ute, were surprised by the prejudice in the book, but as we discussed it, they can to see how this was part of the tim..."

I agree with your point that kids are smarter than we give them credit for...


message 24: by STEPHEN (last edited Jul 24, 2018 01:05PM) (new)

STEPHEN MACPHERSON | 71 comments I recently read a quote from EL Doctorow concerning Harriet Beecher Stowe that relates to this subject (this is paraphrased): Stowe's portrayal of Black stereotypes in Uncle Tom's Cabin- Doctorow calls Stowe's stereotyping the tortuous progression of a culture, where even the most well meaning of people still succumb to the stereotypes of the era- In a way, it is the growing pains of the culture, or, again paraphrasing Doctorow, the hideous customs of the culture in its apparent condemnation.


message 25: by Catie (new)

Catie Currie | 97 comments But the lack of malicious intentions doesn't suddenly make it a story that's not scary or, at best, uncomfortable, to a significant portion of the children who are being forced to read it in schools. The language doesn't change based upon whether or not Wilder knew better.


message 26: by STEPHEN (new)

STEPHEN MACPHERSON | 71 comments It's more about the culture reflecting America's slow progression toward becoming more inclusive. The stereotypical portrayal of Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin shows that, although Stowe abhorred slavery, she still was not ready to completely accept freed slaves into her society. We cannot ignore the past to make it more comfortable. All I'm saying is be honest- It is more insensitive to attempt to "clean" history.


message 27: by Catie (new)

Catie Currie | 97 comments It's not "cleaning" history though. It's choosing books that accurately depict the time period without the narrator condoning the abhorrent practices. I wouldn't really care if it was a book we were requiring high schoolers or college to read, the part that makes me upset is that it's being read to young children. Kids' minds are very different to those of adolescents or adults, they're more black and white, less able to think on their own, and more easily frightened. If we were giving these to discerning adults, it wouldn't be a problem. They would be able to pick out the problems and just enjoy the rest or at most just be disgusted and move on. Kids get legitimately upset and scared when they hear that they should be dead based on their heritage, adults can say "that's a horrible, bigoted thing to say" and move on.


message 28: by STEPHEN (new)

STEPHEN MACPHERSON | 71 comments However, it is pretending this this person never existed because she said something offensive. To remove Wilder's name is to simply say that we don't want to face the parts of our history that were uncomfortable. It's a slippery slope toward censorship. Wilder's books are not made for young children. They would be placed in the same category as YA books. Again, we need to give children the benefit of the doubt-- and answer their questions honestly.


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