Readers write: Thoughts on Laura Ingalls Wilder, weather terminology, Russian-Finnish history

Letters to the editor for the Oct. 8, 2018 weekly magazine.

Emily Spartz/Argus Leader/AP
The book 'Laura Ingalls Wilder Pioneer Girl,' edited by Pamela Smith Hill, is displayed at the downtown library in Sioux Falls, S.D. in 2015.

Thoughts on Laura Ingalls Wilder

Regarding the Oct. 1 Mix column, “Changing views: Is ‘Little House’ romantic or racist?”: I just started reading [Laura Ingalls] Wilder’s autobiography “Pioneer Girl” and read Wilder’s series over and over again as a young girl. 

As a middle-age woman and educator, I have begun to unwrap the false cultural memory presented in history books and in narratives presented to me as a young girl. I was always fascinated by Wilder’s description of the native people in Kansas and always wondered what their story was. I think it is vital for educators to confront the one-
sided, white settler perspective in “Little House.” After all, the Ingalls family was encroaching on Osage land. 

A teacher could ask students to delve into Osage history and narratives. Compare stories. Talk about point of view and racist attitudes toward indigenous people at that time and now. Thank you for bringing this story to the forefront!

Carol A. Johnston

Harbor Springs, Mich.

Excellent article. Important points! I read, and read to my daughters, Wilder’s “Little House on the Prairie” series 70 and 40 years ago, respectively, but not to my granddaughters 10 years ago. I am an educator who has written about racism in books about Africans for almost 60 years. 

After I taught in Liberia for the Peace Corps, I realized we need to think about what children read and encourage critical thinking skills for any book.

Angene Wilson

Lexington, Ky.

While I appreciate the observations and sensitivity of those who, quite often rightly, perceive racism in historical writings, I also feel it is important that these works be left as is. What I suggest is to inform readers of the modern controversy surrounding these works and explain who we are, who we were, and how times and sensitivities have changed. Allow young readers to understand ignorance and how we must keep an open mind. Explanation is the key, I believe.

Jim Ledbetter Sr.

North Aurora, Ill.

Weather terminology

The Sept. 17 “In a Word” column speculates about alternative names for “Indian summer.” In Europe, it was once called St. Martin’s summer because it often ends around St. Martin’s Day, Nov. 11. Since this also happens to be Veterans Day, perhaps “veterans summer” would be a suitable name for it.

Amy Livingston

Highland Park, N.J.

Russian-Finnish history

I’d like a bit more on Czar Alexander II in the Sept. 10 Monitor Daily article “Finland used the swastika before the Nazis. Why do they still do so today?” I presume he did something friendly for the Finns, who were then living in a province of Russia.

Richard K. Ashford

Chevy Chase, Md.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.