The Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal is a prize awarded by the American Library Association (ALA) to writers or illustrators of children's books published in the United States who have over a period of years made substantial and lasting contributions to children's literature. The bronze medal prize is named after its first winner, twentieth-century American author Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Originally, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal was awarded every five years, awarding 6 prizes between 1955 and 1980. From 1980 to 2001 it was awarded every three years, awarding 7 prizes. From 2001 to 2015 it was awarded every two years. It is now awarded annually.
The medal may be awarded to an author or illustrator including co-authors or co-illustrators, and persons who both write and illustrate. The person may be nominated posthumously.
Some portion of the nominee's active career in books for children must have occurred in the twenty-five years prior to nomination.
Citizenship or residence of the potential nominee is not to be considered.
The nominee's work must be published in the United States but this does not mean that the first publication had to be in the United States. It means that books by the nominee have been published in the United States, and it is those books which are to be considered in the nomination process.
At least some of the books by the potential nominee must have been available to children for at least ten years.
The books, by their nature or number, occupy an important place in literature for American children, and children have read the books, and the books continue to be requested and read by children.
The committee is to direct its attention only to the part of the nominee's total work, which is books for children (up to and including age fourteen).