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Silent Lessons

I went to our local SCBWI meeting last night. One of the topics brought up by our facilitator was the changing of the name of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award to the Children’s Literature Agency Award.

We had a lively discussion. It’s a hard topic to discuss.

We all have strong and valid opinions, and many of us grew up loving those books for different reasons. One might identify with the sisters or romanticize the setting – no matter the reason for loving them, they are still problematic.

Several of the group members are teachers. Educators. One of them had a brilliant point about how we often gloss over questions children ask. About how we may be so focused on the lesson we’re trying to impart, that the subtle messages get missed – becoming their own silent lessons. By ignoring them or rushing through them, we are silently telling children that this is an unquestioned truth.

Systemic racism is learned through silent lessons.

The way we fight that is to use our words.

Those of us with privilege need to speak even if our voices shake. We need to point out when the Emperor is wearing no clothes. We need to amplify and center intersectional voices.

We need to ask ourselves what silent lessons we’ve learned.

I’m grateful to the group for a warm and honest parsing of this fraught subject. It was enlightening and gave me much food for thought.


Feel free to share any silent lessons from literature or media you realize you’ve learned.

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