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heartlikealion

Laura Ingalls & portrayal of POC

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Whatever the intent of the author, children internalize norms, values, and messages. I don't think a reading diet heavy on old books with those old norms is harmless. It's not whitewashing or erasing history- it's protecting our kids. A deliberate, guided exposure to those books as history can be beneficial, and most well written kids books can be enjoyed at older ages. So while I enjoyed Little House as a 6-7 yr old, I'm not doing any harm by holding it off for my kids until maybe 12-14 when we can discuss the issues. We can't say that we read those books and didn't turn racist- it's not so overt, but who knows how much books and stories like that have contributed to the implicit bias and systemic racism that is present in our culture. We can't know. 

 

 

4 hours ago, StellaM said:

Yeah, very dangerous waters. 

The books don't need to be banned. Although I agree with the renaming of the award, I do think this will lead to a back door banning of them in schools. I really hate the idea that librarians might even consider book banning, but yeah, this is what happens when you don't stick to the middle path.

I don't think removing books from a school library is equal to banning. I think it reflects that some books should be read with context and sensitivity and a school library is often for free choice reading. Kids read those books with no guidance- no context or adult discussion, and there's no chance for parental guidance. In a public library, parents presumably take their kids and can be aware of what their kids are reading if they care to provide guidance and context. I would 100% be opposed to an unedited Doctor Doolittle in a school library, but I don't think it needs to be banned from everyone. If it's on the shelf of a public library, then fine. 

3 hours ago, Farrar said:

Well, I sure did! But I'm a weirdo who is strangely into all the YALSA and ALSC awards. ? It's possibly I've livestreamed them, like watching the Tonys. 

Since it's a lifetime achievement award, I'm not sure who it would be right to name it after if they chose someone. Beverly Cleary won it in 1975. She's still alive (which, holy crap). I'd be good with putting it in her honor.  But I'd have to think about it more. I do sort of care. But it's not high on my agenda.

Hmm, but Beverly Cleary also wrote some not so child friendly books and some people would be opposed to her name on a children's award because of that. You can't really win! My bad...mixing her up with Judy Bloome.

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2 minutes ago, Paige said:

Whatever the intent of the author, children internalize norms, values, and messages. I don't think a reading diet heavy on old books with those old norms is harmless. It's not whitewashing or erasing history- it's protecting our kids. A deliberate, guided exposure to those books as history can be beneficial, and most well written kids books can be enjoyed at older ages. So while I enjoyed Little House as a 6-7 yr old, I'm not doing any harm by holding it off for my kids until maybe 12-14 when we can discuss the issues. We can't say that we read those books and didn't turn racist- it's not so overt, but who knows how much books and stories like that have contributed to the implicit bias and systemic racism that is present in our culture. We can't know. 

 

 

I don't think removing books from a school library is equal to banning. I think it reflects that some books should be read with context and sensitivity and a school library is often for free choice reading. Kids read those books with no guidance- no context or adult discussion, and there's no chance for parental guidance. In a public library, parents presumably take their kids and can be aware of what their kids are reading if they care to provide guidance and context. I would 100% be opposed to an unedited Doctor Doolittle in a school library, but I don't think it needs to be banned from everyone. If it's on the shelf of a public library, then fine. 

Hmm, but Beverly Cleary also wrote some not so child friendly books and some people would be opposed to her name on a children's award because of that. You can't really win!

 

If a school library is the only library a child has access too - and that's the case for plenty of children - then removing the books from school libraries is a de facto ban.

Book banning - formal or informal - is unequivocally wrong.

 

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20 minutes ago, Tibbie Dunbar said:

What does that mean?

 

r/******* is how reddit forums are named. I've been gone for a few days, but when I checked WTM today the tone seemed more like reddit than WTM. Name-calling, coarser than usual language, etc. Maybe it's been a rough weekend?

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22 minutes ago, Paige said:

 

Hmm, but Beverly Cleary also wrote some not so child friendly books and some people would be opposed to her name on a children's award because of that. You can't really win!

 

I'm curious--what are some non-child friendly Beverly Cleary books? I want to read them! I'm imagining a delicious mix of quaint and saucy. lol

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I'm sorry, why WOULDN'T the fictional Ma character have been racist as all get-out? 

It's ridiculous imo. 

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Maybe I missed it, but I haven't seen the annotated Pioneer Girl recommended on this thread. It's LIW's first version of her life story, and this particular version is heavily footnoted (is that a word?) with lots of details about the people, places, and events about which Wilder wrote. It's a great starting point for those who wonder how the Little House books differ from her actual life story, and is a bit less political than Prairie Fires, which I did see recommended. Another good resource is Little Squatter on the Osage Diminished Reserve, which describes the circumstances surrounding the "settlement" of Kansas. 

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53 minutes ago, StellaM said:

 

If a school library is the only library a child has access too - and that's the case for plenty of children - then removing the books from school libraries is a de facto ban.

Book banning - formal or informal - is unequivocally wrong.

 

 

I do think we need to take into account that this is an ALA award.  If there's an organization that has been more vocal on the idea of intellectual freedom, and against censorship and book banning than the ALA, I don't know what it is.  It seems very unlikely to me that changing the name of this award is some slippery slope towards the ALA advocating banning the Little House books.  

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4 minutes ago, Daria said:

 

I do think we need to take into account that this is an ALA award.  If there's an organization that has been more vocal on the idea of intellectual freedom, and against censorship and book banning than the ALA, I don't know what it is.  It seems very unlikely to me that changing the name of this award is some slippery slope towards the ALA advocating banning the Little House books.  

 

I hope not.

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2 hours ago, StellaM said:

 

If a school library is the only library a child has access too - and that's the case for plenty of children - then removing the books from school libraries is a de facto ban.

Book banning - formal or informal - is unequivocally wrong.

 

We can agree to disagree. Some books don't belong in kids' hands at all. Some books are fine in kids' hands with parental guidance depending on the kid. Would you really be ok with an original text Dr Doolittle in the hands of an unsupervised child who picked it off the shelf for free reading time during his or her school's library time? When I was a kid we could read any book in the library- I think the assumption is that all those books should be appropriate and the community standards should guide book selection. There's TONS of really good books we could put in a school library and limited funds so there's always going to be discretion applied to what books to buy. 

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2 hours ago, mellifera33 said:

 

I'm curious--what are some non-child friendly Beverly Cleary books? I want to read them! I'm imagining a delicious mix of quaint and saucy. lol

Oops...I was thinking of Judy Bloome...

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5 minutes ago, Paige said:

We can agree to disagree. Some books don't belong in kids' hands at all. Some books are fine in kids' hands with parental guidance depending on the kid. Would you really be ok with an original text Dr Doolittle in the hands of an unsupervised child who picked it off the shelf for free reading time during his or her school's library time? When I was a kid we could read any book in the library- I think the assumption is that all those books should be appropriate and the community standards should guide book selection. There's TONS of really good books we could put in a school library and limited funds so there's always going to be discretion applied to what books to buy. 

 

 Yes. 

I don't believe children, in general, need to have their reading supervised*. I don't think any books are dangerous, even ones which may be inappropriate. I don't believe a child reading LH books unsupervised is dangerous or inappropriate, nor do I think it needs adult intervention.

*caveat for pornography, which obviously shouldn't be accessible to children.

But yes, happy to agree to disagree. 

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You can't read it all. I don't believe in keeping kids from books they find and want to read for the most part (obviously some books contain sex or violence that young readers aren't ready for, but children's books in general). However, I'm not going to suggest or read aloud or assign for school books that I don't think will benefit my kids. Why would you do that? Like, why would you say to a kid, here's a good book for you to read (thinking to yourself, this book is the worst, it teaches terrible lessons!). That makes zero sense to me. OF COURSE we're always picking and choosing books. Now, if my kid found a book on the shelf and I thought, that book is the worst, it teaches terrible lessons, I might say, gee, I don't love that book. But if the kid says, I want to read it anyway, okay, great, then I just need to be ready to discuss. How in the world is that CENSORSHIP? Or even "soft" censorship? Like, do you purposefully assign for school books you think are horrible just to prove you're not censoring them? Do you never re-evaluate your book lists just to be sure you didn't "censor" anything? Assigned reading for schools changes - if you kept it static, that would also be a form of censorship - censorship of newer books. This is just bonkers to me. The word censorship has an actual meaning. Not choosing to suggest, assign, and read aloud books is not censorship when you're not preventing kids from accessing books in general.

But also... I don't think any of the LH books need to be censored. But should libraries carry books that are basically anti-Africa propaganda, repeatedly calling black people "children" and saying they can never advance beyond that they need to be civilized by whites and shelve them with the children's books for kids to find and read independently? Because there are GA Henty books like that. There are older children's books like that. Those books belong on adult shelves for research and not in the hands of children. And I'm fine saying that. I mean, good grief. I'm okay with saying this picture book in this version doesn't belong on shelves for children. Is that censorship? Yes! And it's a good thing:

Lbs.jpg

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2 hours ago, Paige said:

We can agree to disagree. Some books don't belong in kids' hands at all. Some books are fine in kids' hands with parental guidance depending on the kid. Would you really be ok with an original text Dr Doolittle in the hands of an unsupervised child who picked it off the shelf for free reading time during his or her school's library time? When I was a kid we could read any book in the library- I think the assumption is that all those books should be appropriate and the community standards should guide book selection. There's TONS of really good books we could put in a school library and limited funds so there's always going to be discretion applied to what books to buy. 

 

I don't have a problem with kids reading books with all kinds of different ideas and ways of thinking.  Whether it's racism or sexism or something else.  Kids main influence is their parents, and the people they meet and talk to, and their own experience and introspection.  Books, they read in that context.  

In fact I think reading widely, particularly books from very different cultures or other times - the latter in a way being the most different you can get - is protective against falling prey to bad ideas. Including the ideas of your own time, your own parents and community, your own inherent biases.  There is no way you can read widely, even as a kid, and not notice that people thought about things differently and had really conflicting values.  

The biggest danger for most people is not taking up some bad idea fro the past, it's taking up the bad ideas from the present, the ones we barely even notice are ideas at all.  

I also really wonder when I read threads like this - am I the only one who read books with these kinds of ideas and came to the conclusion that there was something off about them?  Heck, I remember reading Noddy books when I was pretty small and thinking that the Golliwogs looked an awful lot like black persons and that her depiction of them as baddies was not very nice - I thought that even though I had a now very non-pc doll of that type that I was very attached to and knew nothing about the history of those kinds of images.  I still liked the stories, but I never thought I was supposed to take everything in them as the God-given truth.  And if I didn't question them at 8, what are the chances I still wouldn't at 12 or 20?

There is a sense of ideas as pollution that seems inherent here, and people as unable to discern value.

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6 hours ago, Bluegoat said:

 

I don't have a problem with kids reading books with all kinds of different ideas and ways of thinking.  Whether it's racism or sexism or something else.  Kids main influence is their parents, and the people they meet and talk to, and their own experience and introspection.  Books, they read in that context.  

In fact I think reading widely, particularly books from very different cultures or other times - the latter in a way being the most different you can get - is protective against falling prey to bad ideas. Including the ideas of your own time, your own parents and community, your own inherent biases.  There is no way you can read widely, even as a kid, and not notice that people thought about things differently and had really conflicting values.  

The biggest danger for most people is not taking up some bad idea fro the past, it's taking up the bad ideas from the present, the ones we barely even notice are ideas at all.  

I also really wonder when I read threads like this - am I the only one who read books with these kinds of ideas and came to the conclusion that there was something off about them?  Heck, I remember reading Noddy books when I was pretty small and thinking that the Golliwogs looked an awful lot like black persons and that her depiction of them as baddies was not very nice - I thought that even though I had a now very non-pc doll of that type that I was very attached to and knew nothing about the history of those kinds of images.  I still liked the stories, but I never thought I was supposed to take everything in them as the God-given truth.  And if I didn't question them at 8, what are the chances I still wouldn't at 12 or 20?

There is a sense of ideas as pollution that seems inherent here, and people as unable to discern value.

 

Uh yeah. This has happened before, but happened again recently as well, where someone who knows me relatively well got upset when they found out that I love Gone With The Wind. As if by reading the story, I would begin emulating the ideas and values of the main characters. And, I mean, these people KNOW I talk about feminism and civil rights (favorably LOL) until the cows come home. It's so weird to deal with because of how simple-minded it is. As if input=output, with no mind in the middle digesting the ideas.

I am actually one of the stricter people I know afa limiting what my kids read. Controlling for garbage and twaddle. It's NBD to guide your particular child to or away from certain things as you see fitting depending on maturity, likely effect, etc. 

But that^^ isn't what I am hearing people say. I am hearing people say that kids shouldn't read books which show that people were racists in the past. Except, perhaps, non-fiction? Or is it you can only have a racist character if they get their comeuppance? 

I gotta tell you.... I've met some little white kids that could do with a more realistic exhibition of "domestic" racism in their literature recently. 

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1 minute ago, OKBud said:

 

Uh yeah. This has happened before, but happened again recently as well, where someone who knows me relatively well got upset when they found out that I love Gone With The Wind. As if by reading the story, I would begin emulating the ideas and values of the main characters. And, I mean, these people KNOW I talk about feminism and civil rights (favorably LOL) until the cows come home. It's so weird to deal with because of how simple-minded it is. As if input=output, with no mind in the middle digesting the ideas.

I am actually one of the stricter people I know afa limiting what my kids read. Controlling for garbage and twaddle. It's NBD to guide your particular child to or away from certain things as you see fitting depending on maturity, likely effect, etc. 

But that^^ isn't what I am hearing people say. I am hearing people say that kids shouldn't read books which show that people were racists in the past. Except, perhaps, non-fiction? Or is it you can only have a racist character if they get their comeuppance? 

I gotta tell you.... I've met some little white kids that could do with a more realistic exhibition of "domestic" racism in their literature recently. 

 

I find this fiction vs non-fiction thing interesting - I've always fond that it's fiction from a particular that is much better at giving a sense of how people thought and felt and conceptualized.  

It seems to be the case that a lot of criticism of novels, plays, films etc on the left is now is centered around them being "problematic."  It reminds me of when my kids want to get their story in first, in hopes that it will tilt the argument in their direction, they want to make sure I use their lens to see the incident. 

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15 minutes ago, Bluegoat said:

 It reminds me of when my kids want to get their story in first, in hopes that it will tilt the argument in their direction, they want to make sure I use their lens to see the incident.

ha. What you need to know about the dent in the van, Mom, is what I have to say. Timmy? Timmy is just full of nonsense today ? 

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7 hours ago, Farrar said:

 

But also... I don't think any of the LH books need to be censored. But should libraries carry books that are basically anti-Africa propaganda, repeatedly calling black people "children" and saying they can never advance beyond that they need to be civilized by whites and shelve them with the children's books for kids to find and read independently? Because there are GA Henty books like that. There are older children's books like that. Those books belong on adult shelves for research and not in the hands of children. And I'm fine saying that. I mean, good grief. I'm okay with saying this picture book in this version doesn't belong on shelves for children. Is that censorship? Yes! And it's a good thing:

Lbs.jpg



I don't believe libraries should forcefully censor, but the way most libraries work in modern times is that at least once every two to five years, an audit of done of all the books in the library.  Our old one went away from 10 year audits when they made the shift to bar codes and computerized databases.  During this audit, books are searched for and pulled that have very low check out rates.  The books are set aside to determine whether they still have value to add to the shelf or if they have fallen out of public favor and the space is needed for new ones (I got rid of a whole bunch of Sweet Valley High books that hadn't been checked out more than twice since 2001).

Books like Little Black Sambo or other 'culturally significant' books might be replaced with an annotated version or an updated version like the one illustrated by Bing which brings more humanity to the story instead of characterizing. It might be tossed instead, having outlasted its time in modern culture.  But since the public pays for the library, the library does its best to offer materials regardless of their employees' personal taste.  I'm rather glad, too, even though I would have done anything to have 3 feet of shelf space that was taken up by H.R. Pufinstuf. ?

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14 hours ago, mellifera33 said:

 

I'm curious--what are some non-child friendly Beverly Cleary books? I want to read them! I'm imagining a delicious mix of quaint and saucy. lol

 

Now someone is going to be inspired to write naughty fan fiction about Henry and Beezus and it will be the Hive’s fault.

(actually it probably exists, but I am NOT searching for it!)

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13 hours ago, Paige said:

 

Hmm, but Beverly Cleary also wrote some not so child friendly books and some people would be opposed to her name on a children's award because of that. You can't really win! My bad...mixing her up with Judy Bloome.

 

 

I'm over here imagining Judy Blume themes written in Beverly Cleary style, lol. 

10 hours ago, StellaM said:

 

 Yes. 

I don't believe children, in general, need to have their reading supervised*. I don't think any books are dangerous, even ones which may be inappropriate. I don't believe a child reading LH books unsupervised is dangerous or inappropriate, nor do I think it needs adult intervention.

*caveat for pornography, which obviously shouldn't be accessible to children.

But yes, happy to agree to disagree. 

 

 

You don't think it's bad that a Native American child casually might flip open LHothP and read, "The only good Indian was a dead Indian"? More than once?  They might or might not go on to read that Pa doesn't agree with this saying, but that's scant comfort imo, as is giving historical context to an 8-yr-old who just read that people wish they were dead. 

School libraries have an aura of authority, I do think they are fundamentally different from public libraries. Libraries do not endorse or condemn the books on their shelves, but 3rd-graders really don't get that. I think that when  we tell children how great it is to read books, and you take them to pick books from a selection the school has purchased, and then maybe the teacher says, "I used to love that book!" they, yes, it can be a big deal when that book tells a child that they are not people (LHotP, The Secret Garden, too many others to list).

To be clear, I don't have a completely set idea on exactly how these books should be handled, but I'm more and more coming to the conclusion that they should, in some manner, be handled and not just on the shelf. We can't just assume that children of privilege are going to notice and reject the sometimes subtle racism rather than absorbing it, or that the children the racism is aimed at aren't harmed by it. My instinct has always been 'the more books, the better' and I've generally thought that you fight the racism with context and information and more inclusive books. But that racism was never aimed at me, never aimed at my children, and really, it's easy for me to have that opinion. I'm trying to be better at listening to the people more directly affected.

If pornography is inherently harmful to children, it's not a crazy idea that being told they aren't people is also inherently harmful. 

 

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Quote

 

If a school library is the only library a child has access too - and that's the case for plenty of children - then removing the books from school libraries is a de facto ban.

Book banning - formal or informal - is unequivocally wrong. 

 

 

I don't know what it's like where you live, but over here, libraries are not bigger on the inside. I wish! They have limited shelf space. It is literally not possible to include all the books. Choices simply HAVE to be made.

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17 hours ago, StellaM said:

 

That is exactly what it implied. You're not the first person to be crudely called a troll by that poster in the last 24 hours. She seems to be having a bad day. 

Rise above.

 

No, actually, she is the first and only person I've said is being deliberately obtuse. (I haven't used the word troll, but putting words in other people's mouths is certainly not acting in good faith.)

Quote

I can't get into conspiracy theories around the books being written explicitly to brainswash young children into racism. That's just nuts. 

 

Good thing that exactly nobody said this.

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1 hour ago, katilac said:

 

 

 

You don't think it's bad that a Native American child casually might flip open LHothP and read, "The only good Indian was a dead Indian"? More than once?  They might or might not go on to read that Pa doesn't agree with this saying, but that's scant comfort imo, as is giving historical context to an 8-yr-old who just read that people wish they were dead. 

 

 

As a person from some racial backgrounds that many others wish were dead, I don’t think that the primary problem comes from reading that in a book. Nor that reading it in a book would be likely to be the first instance of discovery of the fact. I think it might be worse to have all portrayals in books depicting an unreal sugar coated view of how ones race was / is viewed   And then that does not fit with personal experience creating cognitive dissonance  

I think the bigger question would be does the book cause more negative results , negative stereotypes in real life by how it affects people. Does it cause people to wish people of ones race were dead(or sent to reservations or concentration camps or locked up in jail...) 

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6 hours ago, OKBud said:

 

Uh yeah. This has happened before, but happened again recently as well, where someone who knows me relatively well got upset when they found out that I love Gone With The Wind. As if by reading the story, I would begin emulating the ideas and values of the main characters. And, I mean, these people KNOW I talk about feminism and civil rights (favorably LOL) until the cows come home. It's so weird to deal with because of how simple-minded it is. As if input=output, with no mind in the middle digesting the ideas.

I am actually one of the stricter people I know afa limiting what my kids read. Controlling for garbage and twaddle. It's NBD to guide your particular child to or away from certain things as you see fitting depending on maturity, likely effect, etc. 

But that^^ isn't what I am hearing people say. I am hearing people say that kids shouldn't read books which show that people were racists in the past. Except, perhaps, non-fiction? Or is it you can only have a racist character if they get their comeuppance? 

I gotta tell you.... I've met some little white kids that could do with a more realistic exhibition of "domestic" racism in their literature recently. 

 

I think there's a difference between a book about characters in the past with racist attitudes and a book with racist characterization. If the white characters believe and act as if non-white characters are inferior that's historically accurate or "just how it was." If the non-white characters are consistently written as incompetent, childish, dim-witted, etc., that's something else.

To put that another way, are the non-white characters treated as full persons by the book is a different (and for this conversation more important) question than whether they are treated as full persons by the other characters in the book.

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17 hours ago, StellaM said:

 

If a school library is the only library a child has access too - and that's the case for plenty of children - then removing the books from school libraries is a de facto ban.

Book banning - formal or informal - is unequivocally wrong.

 

 

I actually think that the school library is a great place for a kid to encounter a book like LH.  In the schools where I've worked, someone is checking out the books in the library, so they'll have a chance to notice what the kid is checking out, and make a comment or set up a conversation.  The librarian can say "Oooooh, Little House on the Prairie.  I hope you enjoy it.  You should know that there are some racist ideas in there . . . " or the librarian can say to the teacher, "X checked out the Little House book" and at the next reading conference, the teacher can ask the child about it or comment on it.    Then the child can make a decision, skip it, read it and talk to a trusted adult, or read it and ponder it on their own, but it will be an educated decision.  
 

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4 hours ago, Daria said:

  In the schools where I've worked 

 

 

You've worked at some really good schools! 

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5 hours ago, Daria said:

 

I actually think that the school library is a great place for a kid to encounter a book like LH.  In the schools where I've worked, someone is checking out the books in the library, so they'll have a chance to notice what the kid is checking out, and make a comment or set up a conversation.  The librarian can say "Oooooh, Little House on the Prairie.  I hope you enjoy it.  You should know that there are some racist ideas in there . . . " or the librarian can say to the teacher, "X checked out the Little House book" and at the next reading conference, the teacher can ask the child about it or comment on it.    Then the child can make a decision, skip it, read it and talk to a trusted adult, or read it and ponder it on their own, but it will be an educated decision.  
 

Yeah, I checked out “Red Azalea” as a freshman, and I appreciated very much that the teacher I checked it out from brought up some of the sexual and cultural themes as a warning so I wouldn’t be caught off guard, and then could read it with a bit more understanding of WHY those things made the account such a big deal against the backdrop of communist China.

 

Same thing with “Gods Go Begging”. Absolutely fantastic book, and I’m glad I was told ahead of time of some of the controversial content.  I deeply enjoyed both books despite the difficult and countercultural topics, and highly recommend them both (they’re now on my short list of favorite books).  But being given a heads up before starting was wonderful.

 

Also super glad I gotta warning of the sadness in “The Boof Thief” so I could brace myself and not fall into a depressed, heartbroken heap with the abruptness of it all.  

 

 

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The only other thing I will add to this thread is that LHOP is what got me reading.  I have very clear memories of being in second grade and walking into the little basement school library of St Adelberts and passing all the 4th graders walking out with their chapter books.   

I wanted THOSE books and the librarian didn’t think i was at that level yet.  But I insisted so she took me to that section and pulled out “The First Four Years”.  She DID warn me that it was a little strong.  I didn’t care so that was the only book I checked out.  Next week on library day I returned it and the librarian kind of quizzed me to see if I had actually finished it.  Then she basically gave me free reign of the library.  I had read all of them, except Farmer Boy, by the end of second grade.  

My oldest hated to read in early elementary.  Her gateway was Harry Potter   Harry Potter horrified the neighbor girl that DD would play with because, you know, witchcraft.  

My DH never really had a gateway series   I mean, he did read for fun but has never really had a LOVE for reading.  I want my kids to LOVE reading.   Even if it’s controversial topics that get them there   

 

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Late to the party so this has probably been said, but I have some perspective as my kids are indigenous American.

I think it's wrong to try to erase history, including the way people thought and wrote historically.

As with so many - frankly just about all - historical literature, real life has to be mentioned, and it's a good opportunity to discuss issues from the "far away, long ago" perspective in preparation for their better understanding the here and now issues.  The fact that Pa and Ma had different opinions on things is also positive from the perspective of encouraging kids to think.

My indigenous American kids have read/heard the LH books and they like them.  We also read Tom Sawyer though it contains the N word and quite a few other things that wouldn't fly today.  Also Little Men with its patronizing view of black people, and Robinson Crusoe  with his treatment of "savages."  And so on.  I don't see the point of pretending these attitudes weren't prominent in various times and places.

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I would also point out that kids should have heard of conflicts between settlers and Native Americans (as well as racism in general) before they are old enough to read the LH books.  If not, then the LH books should be a springboard to those important discussions.  It's such a basic part of US history.

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3 hours ago, SKL said:

I would also point out that kids should have heard of conflicts between settlers and Native Americans (as well as racism in general) before they are old enough to read the LH books.  If not, then the LH books should be a springboard to those important discussions.  It's such a basic part of US history.

 

 

idk, they are easy enough for many 5/6 yr olds, I'm sure many kids in kinder haven't had a solid grounding in history yet, they are quite an easy read. 

I agree that such books can be a springboard to important discussions. I've been reading a few different articles about the general subject of race issues in children's books, and one problem often mentioned is that LHotP and others are often seen as a fun read-aloud for classrooms, and the context and discussion simply aren't there. Even when they are, the children are often simply too young to tease out the nuances. They will all recognize "the only good Indian is a bad Indian" as a bad thing to say easily enough, but third-graders aren't going to go much beyond that (as a group, I'm sure many individual children might).

Then there are the legitimate feelings of the students most concerned. I think that Huckleberry Finn is a great work that brilliantly skewers racism and religious hypocrisy, and I chose to read it with my kids. But I'm a white mom with white kids who will never have the experience of being one of the few black kids sitting in class, hearing the n-word 200+ times. That's a concern that at least needs to be considered, particularly when brought up by the kids themselves. 

It's tough to decide on the best course of action. One district requires teachers to take a special training course in order to teach HF, and that seems like one good part to a workable solution. For LHotP, moving it to higher grades might be a good start, and some training would not go amiss there, either. 

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I read them all when I was in elementary.  The Indian stuff was not in the Big Woods IIRC (that was the first book and the one I read in KG).  When the Indian stuff did come up I was very aware that Ma and Pa disagreed, and also that Laura very much tended to relate to her Pa over her Ma.  When I read that I came away agreeing with Pa that the "Indians" were equals and their concerns were rational; IIRC he moved the family because of that.

I don't expect an old book to be PC, but I think maybe the reason this series was highly regarded was that it did bring out these kinds of issues in a way children could digest them.  Maybe it's today's readers who are missing the point.

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On 7/8/2018 at 8:58 AM, Arctic Mama said:

I can’t think of any unredeemingly racist great books off the top of my head..?

Genevieve Foster

Amber in SJ

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I have never seen that cover of  LIttle Black Sambo.

 the illustrations of all the ones I have ever seen are of an Indian family form India- Always made sense to me as  that is where tigers are

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On 7/8/2018 at 4:29 AM, Tanaqui said:

There's a lot to criticize about the LH books, starting with the nonstop racial bigotry (I don't think her mother ever misses a chance to intone that the only good Indian is a dead Indian) and moving through the part where details were carefully edited to promote objectivism to kids (yes, really).

You can undoubtedly find details here: https://americanindiansinchildrensliterature.blogspot.com/search/label/Little House on the Prairie

 

Yes, we read these but it was in a "we are going to be discussing the racial and cultural issues raised by some of these topics".   Rose Wilder's ideological editing is fascinating.  

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18 hours ago, Tanaqui said:

 

I don't know what it's like where you live, but over here, libraries are not bigger on the inside. I wish! They have limited shelf space. It is literally not possible to include all the books. Choices simply HAVE to be made.

 

Also, discarded library books are often made available for families to keep.  We attend a homeschooling program part time that has a library.  The librarian culls a lot because it's a small space.  It all ends up on the free table and parents can take it home should they choose to do so.  Removed books aren't getting burned up.  

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On 7/8/2018 at 8:58 AM, Arctic Mama said:

Which books are you thinking of, exactly?  I can’t think of any unredeemingly racist great books off the top of my head..?  I’m all about compare and contrast when it comes to literature, especially using it a historical source.  I think that’s very important to see both sides of that discussion if possible.  

3

Just because someone thinks a children's book has objectionable content doesn't mean they aren't thoughtful about including a range of ideas and sides to a discussion. 

We use Oak Meadow and are heading into 4th grade.  I will admit I decided to skip Heidi for racism issues.  I also passed on The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in my planning because I find it beyond tedious and sexist. I've ordered the Native American storybook so I have plenty of time to pre-read to check it for accuracy and quality.  We decided to read The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper (she studied with Lewis and Tolkien) instead of The Lion Witch and the Wardrobe and, after consulting a librarian, I swapped in My Side of the Mountain for Heidi.  I don't feel like teaching either of those books.   We have all of C.S. Lewis's children's books rattling around here and I could probably ferret out an old copy of Heidi on one of their bookshelves.  They can read them, or not, at their leisure.  I am not teaching them though.  There are too many books out there to teach them all, choices must be made.  One of the advantages of homeschool is, of course, the ability to design or tweak one's curriculum.  

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On 7/10/2018 at 12:13 AM, SKL said:

I read them all when I was in elementary.  The Indian stuff was not in the Big Woods IIRC (that was the first book and the one I read in KG).  When the Indian stuff did come up I was very aware that Ma and Pa disagreed, and also that Laura very much tended to relate to her Pa over her Ma.  When I read that I came away agreeing with Pa that the "Indians" were equals and their concerns were rational; IIRC he moved the family because of that.

I don't expect an old book to be PC, but I think maybe the reason this series was highly regarded was that it did bring out these kinds of issues in a way children could digest them.  Maybe it's today's readers who are missing the point.

 

The line about there being no people, only Indians was on the first page of Big Woods. It was edited out in later editions, though. Now it's only trees and wild animals.

 

Edit: I was wrong. The line that was change did was in the second book. It's very similar to the passage in Big Woods, and I had conflated the two.

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Hold on, Heidi is racist ? Isn't it just cows and cheese and straw beds ? It's a long time since I read Heidi.

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9 hours ago, SKL said:

 When I read that I came away agreeing with Pa that the "Indians" were equals and their concerns were rational; IIRC he moved the family because of that.

 

 

He moved the family because federal troops would have forcibly removed them otherwise. Whatever his thoughts on the Osage, he moved because he was forced to, and he had zero problems with white settlers taking over native lands. The character talks openly about whites taking over native land, and how that's just the way it is; to imply that he took their concerns into account or considered them actual equals is to romanticize the character far beyond what Wilder herself did. 

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I admit there are many classics I never read so I do appreciate the heads up on sexism, racism, etc. We checked out a copy of The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe but I am rethinking that one after this thread. I still want to buy ds the illustrated Hobbit. I hope that one isn’t so bad. 

The main reason I bought more LH books is because ds said he liked Little House in the Big Woods. I saw lots of references to LHBW (even on Gilmore Girls) and wrongly assumed the series was more favorable. 

I actually watched a LH Christmas movie recently lol I know they don’t have the same staff or w/e. 

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I too am struggling to remember any racism in Heidi.  I read it as a kid, again as an adult in English and German, and read it to my kids a couple years ago.  What did I miss?

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Again, I think it's a bad idea to censor books just because they contain historically accurate portrayals of racism or any other ism.

I don't understand why they are singling out the LH books either.  I mean find me an old book in Western literature that mentions different races without some racist tone or other.  And let's not get started on sexism.  Or religious world views.  Or how about what would now be viewed as accepting of child abuse.

You'd have to ban practically all books written before the current living generations.

And while we're at it - why don't similar standards apply to music?

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37 minutes ago, katilac said:

 

He moved the family because federal troops would have forcibly removed them otherwise. Whatever his thoughts on the Osage, he moved because he was forced to, and he had zero problems with white settlers taking over native lands. The character talks openly about whites taking over native land, and how that's just the way it is; to imply that he took their concerns into account or considered them actual equals is to romanticize the character far beyond what Wilder herself did. 

It's been a while obviously since I read the books (I still think Pa's character was more moral than you give him credit for), but -

Can't you see how "that's just the way it is" is an invitation to kids to question why that's the way it is and whether it should be?

Do people nowadays just read the words on the page and not think further?

Give kids a little credit.

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11 minutes ago, SKL said:

It's been a while obviously since I read the books (I still think Pa's character was more moral than you give him credit for), but -

Can't you see how "that's just the way it is" is an invitation to kids to question why that's the way it is and whether it should be?

Do people nowadays just read the words on the page and not think further?

Give kids a little credit.

 

 

My post is clearly in response to yours (I quote it) and is in reference to why the Ingalls did or did not leave their settlement. My post says absolutely nothing about how kids might react to what Pa says; that's an incorrect conflation on your part. 

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7 minutes ago, SKL said:

Again, I think it's a bad idea to censor books just because they contain historically accurate portrayals of racism or any other ism.

I don't understand why they are singling out the LH books either.  I mean find me an old book in Western literature that mentions different races without some racist tone or other.  And let's not get started on sexism.  Or religious world views.  Or how about what would now be viewed as accepting of child abuse.

You'd have to ban practically all books written before the current living generations.

And while we're at it - why don't similar standards apply to music?

Because the award name had to do with the author of the LH books. 

I own 3 of her books. Ds can read them if he wants but as far as assigning for our reading list, I may want to choose something else that I’d have no qualms about YKWIM? Anyone know if there is objectionable material in Farmer Boy? 

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27 minutes ago, SKL said:

 

And while we're at it - why don't similar standards apply to music?

I can't enjoy some of the music I listened to with my parents as a child anymore. I used to love it for the nostalgia and warm fuzzies, but he sexism in a lot of 50s and 60s music makes it uncomfortable now that I'm old enough to hear it. I don't mind songs that I didn't know were about sex when I was a kid, but I'll turn the channel for songs that are not so veiled celebrations of domestic violence or sexual control. 

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