Ellen Ruffin, curator of the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection, was recently elected to the prestigious Laura Ingalls Wilder Award Committee of ALSC, a division of the American Library Association.
The purpose of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award is to recognize an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have over a period of years made a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children. The recipient is presented with a medal designed by Garth Williams.
“I’m honored to serve on the Laura Ingalls Wilder Committee because it recognizes the lifetime achievement of authors and illustrators who have made a lasting and substantial contribution to children's literature,” Ruffin said. “That means I’ll be reading books on authors whose works have already been recognized as distinguished.”
Laura Ingalls Wilder was born Feb. 7, 1867 in a little log house in Wisconsin. Her childhood was spent traveling west by covered wagon to Indian Territory in Kansas, to Grasshopper Country in Minnesota and then to the Dakota Territory. She became an elementary school teacher, married Almanzo Wilder and moved to Mansfield, Mo. where she lived until her death at age 90.
Wilder’s daughter, Rose, grew up listening to her mother’s stories of those pioneer days. She urged her mother to write them down so that other children could enjoy them. In the 1930s and ‘40s, Wilder recorded her memories in a children’s series known as the “Little House” books. The honesty and detail of the books make them interesting historical and social documents of the period, and attract the interest of scholars as they represent a rare example of pioneer literature from a child’s perspective.
The Laura Ingalls Wilder Award was first presented in 1954 to Laura Ingalls Wilder. It was presented every five years from 1960 to 1980, every three years from 1980-2001, and is now given every two years at the Newbery-Caldecott Awards Banquet. Ruffin will serve on the committee from 2013 through 2015.