or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Natural Living › The Mindful Home › Arts & Crafts › Books, Music, and Media › Can We Talk About the Controversy of Little House on the Prairie.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Can We Talk About the Controversy of Little House on the Prairie.

post #1 of 221
Thread Starter 
And I’m talking more about the books than the TV show….

But anyone that is familiar with the books will recall the pretty blatant disrespectful attitude towards Native Americans (“Indians”) that Laura Ingalls had. Truly, she talked of being fearful, and either said outright or implied about the “savagery” and such of the “Indians.”

So do you think it is appropriate for children to read these books, given this clear lack of respect?

I say yes. Laura wrote from *her* viewpoint, and as flawed as we may find it, that was the common thought toward Native Americans in that time of history. I would use that as a learning and discussion tool w/ my kids, and am hoping that DS will have interest in reading these books someday, so we can talk about this together.
post #2 of 221
Quote:
Originally Posted by karina5 View Post
And I’m talking more about the books than the TV show….

But anyone that is familiar with the books will recall the pretty blatant disrespectful attitude towards Native Americans (“Indians”) that Laura Ingalls had. Truly, she talked of being fearful, and either said outright or implied about the “savagery” and such of the “Indians.”

So do you think it is appropriate for children to read these books, given this clear lack of respect?

I say yes. Laura wrote from *her* viewpoint, and as flawed as we may find it, that was the common thought toward Native Americans in that time of history. I would use that as a learning and discussion tool w/ my kids, and am hoping that DS will have interest in reading these books someday, so we can talk about this together.

Yes, I don't think we can shield our kids from the somewhat skewed thinking in the past... but we can use our progess (well, kinda) as society as a learning tool.

IMO
post #3 of 221
At the time that she lived, that was truly how she felt. Taken in context the books can teach a child a little bit about history from a child's perspective. I wouldn't call them racist because she wrote her own experiences as a child. JMHO, but I loved the books and the show and hope that my children will enjoy them as well.
post #4 of 221
Quote:
Originally Posted by karina5 View Post

I say yes. Laura wrote from *her* viewpoint, and as flawed as we may find it, that was the common thought toward Native Americans in that time of history. I would use that as a learning and discussion tool w/ my kids, and am hoping that DS will have interest in reading these books someday, so we can talk about this together.
I agree.
post #5 of 221
I can't think of a book I would forbid my child to read, short of pornography. Discussing a book is the best part!
post #6 of 221
No. I don't think it's appropriate. Children do not have the experience and analytical skill to find learning about the author's perspective a 'learning experience.' Those kinds of attitudes are too prevalent in our society, without enough counterbalance, for that to be the case.

Children will simply accept the racism as factual and internalize it. Not good. We have not come far enough to be able to read this sort of thing to our children and know it will be looked upon with the critical eye it warrants.

I think it's one thing if you have done *lots* of learning already about racism and the genocide perpetuated upon Aboriginal peoples. But for too many of us, this is not the context within we would read these stories to our children.
post #7 of 221
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThreeBeans View Post
I agree.
Me too. I love those books! I hope ds will too.
post #8 of 221
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by thismama View Post
No. I don't think it's appropriate. Children do not have the experience and analytical skill to find learning about the author's perspective a 'learning experience.' Those kinds of attitudes are too prevalent in our society, without enough counterbalance, for that to be the case.

Children will simply accept the racism as factual and internalize it. Not good. We have not come far enough to be able to read this sort of thing to our children and know it will be looked upon with the critical eye it warrants.

I think it's one thing if you have done *lots* of learning already about racism and the genocide perpetuated upon Aboriginal peoples. But for too many of us, this is not the context within we would read these stories to our children.
thismama, when I was a child I read the books and was deeply bothered by the attitude in the books, even though I loved Laura Ingalls.

Don't you think it depends on the age and maturity of the child?
post #9 of 221
Quote:
Originally Posted by RBinTEX View Post
I can't think of a book I would forbid my child to read, short of pornography. Discussing a book is the best part!
Honestly I think reading about sex would not be as damaging as reading about unexamined and unacknowledged, and therefore insidious, racism.

I wouldn't want my child reading pornography either, but I would place these kinds of books with overtly racist messages in a similar or more dangerous category.
post #10 of 221
Hmm. Laura is such a sympathetic, appealing character that I think it might be hard for kids to kind of emotionally distance themselves from her persepectives and viewpoints.

I remember really wishing I could BE Laura.

So I think it would depend on how sophisticated my kid's understanding of literature was. Like, not all books are even pretending to tell the truth, every book has an angle, no book can really tell the whole story at once.

I think I'd have to start with some Native American friendly books so they don't begin with that negativity, instead of letting them read LHOTP and then trying to "undo" that damage when me and the kids got around to it.

I get a lot of really inappropriate literature/items about Alaska Native stereotypes from well-meaning family members... "look at the cute Eskimo boy in the igloo!" type of thing... and I can't imagine raising kids here and letting that be the foundation for their knowlege about AK Natives.

I don't want to set them up for that, and they try to paint a more truthful picture later. Especially when there's a lot of negativity already surrounding them in the culture.

To me, the LHOTP thing is really very similar. I can still vividly recall scenes from the series-- Laura Ingalls Wilder didn't suck as an author, and those images are still vivid in my memory fifteen years after my last reading.
post #11 of 221
Quote:
Originally Posted by thismama View Post
No. I don't think it's appropriate. Children do not have the experience and analytical skill to find learning about the author's perspective a 'learning experience.' Those kinds of attitudes are too prevalent in our society, without enough counterbalance, for that to be the case.

Children will simply accept the racism as factual and internalize it. Not good. We have not come far enough to be able to read this sort of thing to our children and know it will be looked upon with the critical eye it warrants.

I think it's one thing if you have done *lots* of learning already about racism and the genocide perpetuated upon Aboriginal peoples. But for too many of us, this is not the context within we would read these stories to our children.

I don't know - I remember reading them at about 8 years old and being horrified by the racism I was reading. It led to lots of talks with my mom about it. Perhaps since my mom had already talked to me about how my Gpa was 1/2 native but denied that half of his culture because he didn't want t dela with racism, etc, I "got" it more than other kids would. I don't think I would let my 6 year old read them on his own, but I think I would read them with him and discuss them.
post #12 of 221
Quote:
Originally Posted by karina5 View Post
thismama, when I was a child I read the books and was deeply bothered by the attitude in the books, even though I loved Laura Ingalls.

Don't you think it depends on the age and maturity of the child?
Perhaps. I think it also depends on what else the child has been taught about racism and Aboriginal peoples. Which, all too often, is not enough to provide appropriate context for the ideas in these books.

Negative messages about Aboriginal peoples, and other peoples of colour, are all around us. Why expose our children to more? Really. Makes no sense to me.
post #13 of 221
I read those books over and over, and it's Ma who blatantly speaks against the Indians, then Pa counters with examples of their helpfulness, and we get to hear what Laura is thinking. They seem to give her a shiver of fear, but she wants to adopt the papoose she sees, and the family all acknowledge that they are alive because of the Indian who spoke French (can't remember his name) talking the tribes down from slaying all the settlers.

There are many things in the books that open up good discussions (the family use shaming and whipping as disciplinary methods, for starters) and I like any book that starts a conversation.
post #14 of 221
Quote:
Originally Posted by thismama View Post

Children will simply accept the racism as factual and internalize it. Not good. We have not come far enough to be able to read this sort of thing to our children and know it will be looked upon with the critical eye it warrants.
I disagree. I started reading the Little House books at age 5 and I remember even then thinking that Ma was silly to be so mean to and afraid of the Natives. What the parent communicates to the child about racism is way more important than a story book.
post #15 of 221
I'm trying to think about what impact that attitude had on me, as a 6/7 year old kid. That's when I read most of her stuff, and I actually lived in an area where there was a lot of outward antagonism between Native Canadians and everyone else...they took over a park...

I honestly don't think I even noticed it. I've never thought of natives as savages or whatever. I think a kid will know it's a story about a long time ago, and it's not right. I'd go over the language, though, and explain that we don't use the word Indian anymore.
post #16 of 221
Quote:
Originally Posted by thismama View Post
No. I don't think it's appropriate. Children do not have the experience and analytical skill to find learning about the author's perspective a 'learning experience.' Those kinds of attitudes are too prevalent in our society, without enough counterbalance, for that to be the case.

Children will simply accept the racism as factual and internalize it. Not good. We have not come far enough to be able to read this sort of thing to our children and know it will be looked upon with the critical eye it warrants.

I think it's one thing if you have done *lots* of learning already about racism and the genocide perpetuated upon Aboriginal peoples. But for too many of us, this is not the context within we would read these stories to our children.

I read all of them as a child and I knew even at that age that the feelings she had towards Native Americans was not a good way to feel but she was a child living in a time period where fear of Native Americans was normal.

It never made me think anything negative about Native Americans, if anything it gave me some history on what they went through.
post #17 of 221
No. I don't think it's appropriate. Children do not have the experience and analytical skill to find learning about the author's perspective a 'learning experience.' Those kinds of attitudes are too prevalent in our society, without enough counterbalance, for that to be the case.

Children will simply accept the racism as factual and internalize it. Not good. We have not come far enough to be able to read this sort of thing to our children and know it will be looked upon with the critical eye it warrants (quote by thismama)

Unless, of course, as parents we raise children who would 1.) question that type of thinking and 2.) come to us and say, "Hey, this doesn't seem right" and which point we could have an open and honest discussion.

I hope to raise a child who gleans his knowledge of the world through more than just one book.
post #18 of 221
Quote:
Originally Posted by karina5 View Post
thismama, when I was a child I read the books and was deeply bothered by the attitude in the books, even though I loved Laura Ingalls.
I wasn't. And I was really a fairly sophisticated little reader for a six-year-old.
post #19 of 221
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThreeBeans View Post
I disagree. I started reading the Little House books at age 5 and I remember even then thinking that Ma was silly to be so mean to and afraid of the Natives. What the parent communicates to the child about racism is way more important than a story book.
Yep. But what I'm saying is that the storybook is part of a whole package of cultural messages children get about race, and Aboriginal people in particular. Unless the parents have done some solid, intensive ground work, and then talk about the story with their children in a particular, critical way, focusing on the racism, then I think children can miss it. ITA with what 80 says about children identifying with Laura Ingalls and with the Ingalls family in general.

I guess I just don't trust that parents have necessarily done that work with their children in the way it needs to be done to contextualize the messages in these books. How many of us have done that work? Honestly? I have not yet.
post #20 of 221
Quote:
Originally Posted by RBinTEX View Post
I can't think of a book I would forbid my child to read, short of pornography. Discussing a book is the best part!
: I totally agree with this.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Books, Music, and Media
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Natural Living › The Mindful Home › Arts & Crafts › Books, Music, and Media › Can We Talk About the Controversy of Little House on the Prairie.