Did I ever get a bee in my bonnet this week! I am so fired up I could whomp a cast iron skillet upside the heads of whatever dimwits at the Association of Library Service to Children decided it was a good idea to drop Laura Ingalls Wilder from the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award. Shame on the ALSC for attempting to smear a stalwart of Americana in the name of social cleansing! Their actions are not only reckless, but positively Orwellian. I, for one, will not sit in silence.
What posthumously grievous sin did Laura (I’lI call her by her first name because she was my best literary friend throughout childhood) commit? According to the ALSC, she portrayed “stereotypical attitudes” in her body of work, the much lauded and beloved Little House series. Never mind that these “stereotypical attitudes” reflected the lives of the characters she placed in historical context. Never mind that these “stereotypical attitudes” exhibited in her other works made groundbreaking progress in the publishing field for women. Never mind that these “stereotypical attitudes” are judged, defined, and censured through a sociopolitical lens well over a century beyond the very setting Laura captured in her work.
In fact, the ALSC feels so socially advanced that they UNANIMOUSLY VOTED to strike Laura’s name from the longstanding award that honored her work. So, Gentle Reader, I’d like to share with you some of these “stereotypical attitudes” that the ALSC has thunderously applauded themselves for shielding contemporary American (and I would presume international) children from. You might want to make sure your own modern-thinking children can’t see this next part. I’d hate for them to be scathed by such literary tripe as:
“Every job is good if you do your best and work hard. A man who works hard stinks only to ones who have nothing to do but smell.”
“Suffering passes, while love is eternal. That’s a gift that you have received from God. Don’t waste it.”
“The real things haven’t changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong.”
“As you read my stories of long ago I hope you will remember that things truly worthwhile and that will give you happiness are the same now as they were then. It is not the things you have that make you happy. It is love and kindness and helping each other and just plain being good.”
Instead of using the segments of Laura’s stories that deal frankly with a child’s perspective of Westward Expansionism as teachable moments to show how our nation has evolved, for better or worse, the ALSC has chosen to vilify her entire body of work because scenes are included which depict the mores of the times in which the narrative is set. This is poppycock!
What’s next, the redaction of sentences from American Literary Canon that don’t reflect our postmodern sense of tolerance? Away with Thoreau! Away with Whitman! Don’t even look at e.e. cummings! Forget the March sisters! While we’re at it, we might as well eradicate LM Montgomery from neighboring Canada. We’d hate for the rebellious sensibilities of Anne Shirley to seep into the collective consciousness of our children.
Gentle Reader, if you’d like to learn more about the actions of the ALSC, you can start here: www.foxnews.com/us/2018/06/24/laura-ingalls-wilders-name-pulled-from-library-award-over-stereotypical-attitudes-in-her-popular-books.html
If you’d like to do something about it, here’s an organized effort: https://www.thepetitionsite.com/492/603/619/reinstate-laura-ingalls-wilders-awardnow/?taf_id=57146585&cid=fb_na#bbfb=862623637
You could even contact the ALSC: http://www.ala.org/alsc/feedback
I have been using the hashtag #layofflaura as another way to protest what I see as a ludicrous decision. You are welcome to use it, too, if you’d like. As you can tell, I’m madder than a wet hen on a Monday about this. I got that phrase from my grandma. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter, whether or not you agree. Just remember, we don’t cuss or act the donkey around here.
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