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.
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.
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.
Highland Park, N.J.
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.