Friday, October 5, 2012

Banned Books Week: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Published in 2007, Sherman Alexie's book, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian has been out for a number of years. Yet despite its relatively young age it only caught the radar of challenge crazy adults within the past few years. In 2010 it ranked the 2nd most challenged book and by 2011 the craze died down a little and it was bumped down the list to the 5th most challenged book. Reasoning? It has offensive language, racism, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, violence, sex education, and it's unsuited to the age group. 

Let's be real here, teenagers curse and if they don't, they've heard it before. Turn on the tv, read the news, look at a magazine and you are going to be introduced to "sex education" in one form or another. What bothers me about these reasons to ban a book is that I can't grasp the reasoning of the parents (because, lets face it, the majority of challenges are done by parents). Unless you keep your child locked in the house without any access to the outside world they are already being exposed to this type of stuff on a day to day basis. If you think they aren't, you're very oblivious.

Also, let it be known that people have different religious viewpoints. This isn't some new epiphany to be stated, it's fact, and has been fact for centuries. Why else would there be different religions if people didn't have different religious viewpoints? Why is it that a character in a book must follow some specific religious stance? Wouldn't it take away from the storyline if every person was the same and there wasn't some diversity?  
  ©2012 Erica R Hopper. Please quote or link back, do not repost as your own. soonrememberedtales.blogspot.com
The sexual explicit argument doesn't work so well either. Yeah, the book talks about stuff that isn't necessarily G rated but there isn't anything that's very graphic and I've read YA books that have a lot more detail than this book did. Even if it was extremely detailed and graphic, who cares? No one is forcing you to read it. If you disagree that your child will have to read this book in school, great, but don't ruin the opportunity for others. 

"I began reading, and I started to cross out sections that I didn't want him to read," she said. "Soon I thought, 'Wait, this is not appropriate; he is not reading this.'"- A mother quoted in this Chicago Tribune article from 2009 said.


The chairman of the English department of this school (featured in the above mentioned article) is fabulous and sums up the book and its meaning - despite all of the sexuality and oh-my-gosh use of bad words in a perfect way:

"While there is graphic language, keep in mind that Arnold [the main character] uses this language to express his own feelings to himself or to exchange taunts with his best friend," he said. "He never uses this language in front of girls, to his family or to other adults, and he doesn't act on such thoughts. He is consistently polite."  
Whitehurst said the book is filled with positive, life-affirming messages and has an especially strong anti-alcohol message.

Rock on, Whitehurst. This book has won countless awards, awards that aren't just given out to anyone. It's a good read and it engages teens who sometimes may not really be interested in reading. If I had a 14 year old, I'd gladly let them read this. I'd even hand them the book since I own my own personal copy.

  ©2012 Erica R Hopper. Please quote or link back, do not repost as your own. soonrememberedtales.blogspot.com