Wilder's Legacy, and the Award in Context

Wilder's body of work continues to be a focus of scholarship and literary analysis, which often brings to light anti-Native and anti-Black sentiments in her work. Her books continue to be published, read, and widely used with contemporary children. ALSC recognizes the author’s legacy is complex and Wilder’s work is not universally embraced.

During the 2018 Annual Conference, the ALSC Board voted to change the name of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal to the Children's Literature Legacy Award. All past award recipients, including Laura Ingalls Wilder, have retained their honor.

Wilder’s books have been and will continue to be deeply meaningful to many readers. Although her work holds a significant place in the history of children’s literature and continues to be read today, ALSC had to grapple with the inconsistency between Wilder’s legacy and the association’s core values of inclusiveness, integrity and respect, and responsiveness through an award that bears Wilder’s name.

ALSC works within the context of our society as a whole, where the conversations taking place inform our work and help us articulate our core values and support of diverse populations.

Changing the name of the award should not be viewed as an attempt to censor, limit, or deter access to Wilder’s books and materials, but rather as an effort to align the award’s title with ALSC’s core values. This change is not a call for readers to change their personal relationship with or feelings about Wilder’s books, nor does it suggest that anyone stop reading Wilder’s books, talking about them, or making them available to children. The change, however, may prompt further critical thinking about Wilder’s books and the discussions that can take place around them.

One final note, the award’s name change does not affect nor negate past winners’ receipt of this honor for their “significant and lasting contribution to literature for children.”