During the mid 1970’s to early 1980’s, one of the most popular television shows was “Little House on the Prairie”. It was a family-friendly show that focused on life in the mid-west during the period after the civil war. It featured one main family who was loosely based on the series of books written by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Even though the writer was the recipient of literary awards, these books were recently pulled from school library shelves.
Along with the banning of these classic books, the award that was once named after this formerly beloved author has been renamed. The Association of Library Services to Children voted overwhelming to rename the ‘Laura Ingalls Wilder Award’ to the ‘Children’s Legacy Literature Award’ after complaints about the negative references to both Native Americans and African-Americans that the author employed at the time to more accurately portray life during those times.
This was the latest in a rash of protests against classic books in the effort to make schools conform to the politically correct mindset of the culture. Unfortunately, in the effort to ban reading material that some find objectionable, the children whom educators and parents claim to be shielding from hurtful or negative expressions, are actually being denied the opportunity to think for themselves and grow in compassion. The banning of books is essentially attempting to stop children from learning about the differences that existed in the past that still shape how people from other regions and cultures see the world around them.
It is true that some references to race or culture can be hurtful to those at whom it is directed. However, rather than scrubbing all mention of these terms or slang expressions, it may be more advantageous to students to learn why these references are so offensive to others. Children who have a broader view of life and more exposure to different cultures and vocabularies can then more accurately gauge how such language can be harmful. Students who learn about both the positive and negative aspects of history and culture are better equipped to ensure that past mistakes are never repeated.
Along with allowing children to be exposed to controversial literature, both parents and educators can help children learn that negative terms do not define who or what one is or can be. Children who have the tools to overcome racism or intolerance will make better leaders in both society and business since they will have developed deeper empathy and compassion for those who come from vastly different backgrounds.
The secret to a more cohesive society where hatred and bigotry have no foothold is to truly educate the upcoming generation using a wide variety of literary and fine art resources. Children who learn more about how older generations overcame such obstacles may develop better policies to ensure that future generations will not face the type of hatred and injustice that still prevails in the world today — in spite of the banning of once-cherished books.
Writer Bio: Angela Mose
I am a mom of 7 who has successfully homeschooled for 20 years. I was married for more than 25 years and have recently started my life over. I have a passion for writing and music and when the two can be combined, it is utopia. A Maryland native, I am planning to relocate north in the near future and will continue to strive to learn and experience new things on a regular basis. I am fortunate enough to be able to work from home while exploring new ways to increase my knowledge and skills and help improve the lives of those around me.