Bowdlerizing Children's Books: A Poll

Should publishers edit beloved children's books like LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE or THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA to eliminate racial or ethnic stereotyping? When (if ever) is it okay? Please vote in the poll in my sidebar and/or comment below.

It's okay to update a classic children's book to reflect changing mores ...
  1. if the changes made are incidental rather than integral to the plot (see these changes made to Robert Lawson's Caldecott-winning THEY WERE STRONG AND GOOD, for example).

  2. if the publisher includes a note in the re-issue explaining the reasoning behind the change (as Roger Sutton references here).

  3. if the author is still alive and wants the changes (for instance, me).

  4. if the copyright holder (a descendant) is still alive and authorizes the changes.

  5. never.
Authors, when it comes to making changes in our own books, all of us reflect the ethics and morals of our time and culture, and all of us will err in one way or another. It's guaranteed that we'll reread our books a decade down the road and wince over something. When do we let those mistakes stand? How can we be sure that we're not pressured by new, erroneous cultural trends to make such changes (there's no guarantees that culture gets more ethical with time; i.e. 1930s Germany)?

Publishers, if a book from the past is unchanged, isn't it more helpful to package it with a vintage look to cue historical fiction instead of using a contemporary art or model to "draw in young readers"?

Educators and parents, how do you lead discussions around these topics with children/teens? Any tools or best practices you can share with the rest of us?

For more on this, author Laurel Snyder leads a discussion on her blog, where she invited me to share my thoughts on Edward Eager (HALF-MAGIC) and racism.