Along with the book, the students read Michael Dorris's essay "Trusting the Words," in which he describes the joy with which he set out to read Little House to his daughters, only to be taken aback by the negative portrayals. He tried to edit them out as he read aloud, but eventually gave up.
I loved the "Little House" books for their authentic (albeit romanticized) portrayal of a family's journey westward. The attitudes toward Indians, considered racist by the standards of today, are important indicators of how settlers viewed their indigenous hosts. To discourage kids to read this would be detrimental--much like discouraging the reading of "Huckleberry Finn" or "Oliver Twist" because of their painfully bigoted depictions of African-Americans and Jews.
I wouldn't discourage kids from reading it if it was good literature, but I'd give them the necessary background to understand it. That's precisely what I argued for in my long deconstruction of Huck Finn.
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