Laura Ingalls Wilder's Name Removed From Children's Book Award Over Her Portrayals of Native Americans and Blacks

Laura Ingalls Wilder, left, signing books in 1961.
Laura Ingalls Wilder, left, signing books. Getty

The award honors authors who have made substantial and lasting contributions to children's literature.

A division of the American Library Association has removed the name of Laura Ingalls Wilder from its prestigious award for excellence in children's literature because of racist descriptions of Native Americans and African-Americans.

The Association for Library Service to Children voted unanimously Saturday to strip the noted author's name. The award will now be called the Children's Literature Legacy Award, the group said in a statement. 

In 1954, Wilder was the honor's first recipient. It was created to commend books published in the U.S. that significantly impact children's literature.

Generations of girls have grown up reading the "Little House on the Prairie" series of books based on Wilder's own life in 19th Century middle America. 

The organization first said in February that it would be reviewing the author's work.

"Wilder’s legacy is complex and ... her work is not universally embraced," the group said in a statement at the time. "It continues to be a focus of scholarship and literary analysis, which often brings to light anti-Native and anti-black sentiments in her work."  

In remarks posted to its website over the weekend, the association said Wilder's writings included "stereotypical attitudes." Multiple characters in her books say, "The only good Indian is a dead Indian" and there are references to white men performing in black face at local gatherings.

Expecting backlash, the group's statement added that the move was not censorship.

"Changing the name of the award, or ending the award and establishing a new award, does not prohibit access to Wilder's works or suppress discussion about them," the lengthy posting reads. "Neither option asks or demands that anyone stop reading Wilder's books, talking about them, or making them available to children. These recommendations do not amount to censorship, nor do they undermine intellectual freedom." 

Twitter immediately lit up with posts questioning the move, including one by actor Rob Lowe.