Actress Melissa Francis Cassandra Cooper played Ingalls Toilet on the Moor. It came as a shock when the American Library Association took the name Laura Ingalls Wilder away from one of their most prestigious awards. Francis questioned the group’s decision, arguing that Wilder’s work provides an important historical context without being sexual.
Laura Ingalls Wilder’s work reflects ‘dated cultural ideas’
In 2018, the American Library Association renamed the Laura Ingalls Wilder award to the Children’s Literacy Legacy Award. This honor recognizes authors and illustrators whose books have made a significant contribution to children’s literature.
Changing the name meant “removing the honor from [the] insensitive cultural paintings in [Wilder’s] books, ”according to the New York Times.
“Wilder’s books are the result of her life experiences and her vision as an American settler in the 1800s,” said Jim Neal, the society’s president.
“Her work reflects old-fashioned cultural attitudes towards Indigenous peoples and people of color that run counter to the acceptance, celebration and modern understanding of diverse communities,” said the president of the children’s department. Nina Lindsay.
Wilder ‘s books and the Toilet on the Moor series is still popular with many. So Francis was surprised to learn about name change.
Melissa Francis Opposes American Library Association Rule to Alter Children’s Literacy Legacy Award
During a 2018 interview with FOX News, Francis promoted her book, Lessons from the Prairie: The Amazing Mysteries to Happiness, Success, and (Sometimes Just) Survival I Learned on America’s Favorite Show. She also considered changing the name of the Children’s Literacy Legacy Award.
“It’s amazing how equal women are in the books,” Francis said. She continued to defend Wilder’s work, adding:
To their own physical injury, [women] endangering lives and rejoicing right next to the men.
The women explained [in the books and the series] working outside the home, they sell things – this was written by a woman, and [the American Library Association is] states that the book represents old-fashioned cultural ideas.
Melissa Francis says that ‘Little House on the Prairie’ and the autobiography of slaves provide the same historical context
Racism was a major factor in the society’s desire to change the name of the award. As pointed out in a New York Times article, there are several references to racism in Wilder’s books. In the 1935 edition of Toilet on the Moor, characters believed in the idea that “a dead Indian is the only good Indian.” Native Americans have also been described as “wild animals.”
In the 1941 release Small Town on the Moor, Wilder describes a minstrel show with “five black men in raggedy-taggedy costumes. ”
But in Francis’ view, these are historical accounts that deserve to be shared. In her interview, Francis referred to another book on the society’s “list of winners” – Growing up in slavery: stories of young slaves as told to themselves.
“I bet there are some old-fashioned ideas about culture in that book too,” Francis said. “[This] that is why we have read these historical accounts – to educate ourselves about our culture, where we came from, mistakes we have made in the past, [and the] the strengths of our establishment. ”
Melissa Francis doesn’t think ‘Little House on the Prairie’ is sexual
Francis also addressed the idea Toilet on the Moor to be sexist. Considering the book was written by a “strong female author” and contains a number of “strong female characters,” Francis questioned how the work could be.
“The ‘Me Too’ movement is about women not getting jobs in Hollywood,” Francis said reasonably. “[Little House on the Prairie] it’s like a women’s project, if you look at Laura Ingalls Wilder writing about her family, about her mother’s life on the border. ”
Ultimately, the society did not change the name of the prestigious award to limit access to Wilder ‘s work.
“The name of the renewal award should not be construed as censorship,” Neal and Lindsay said in a statement (via the New York Times). “We are not asking anyone to stop reading Wilder’s books, talking about them, or being available with children. We hope that adults think critically about Wilder ‘s books and the conversations that may take place around them. ”