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

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexi is a coming of age story about Arnold Spirit, Junior who lives on the Spokane Indian Reservation. He is advised by the math teacher on the rez that he deserves better than what the rez school can offer him and he transfers to the nearest off-reservation white school in Rearden. Published in 2007, this book has been on the top 10 list of most challenged books every year from 2010-2014.

Subjects challenged in this book include offensive language, drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, violence, gambling, depictions of bullying and racism.

Alexi responded to the complaints in 2011 in a Wall Street Journal post by arguing that it is way too late to prevent school aged children from learning about the harsher aspects of life. And he notes:

I have yet to receive a letter from a child somehow debilitated by the domestic violence, drug abuse, racism, poverty, sexuality, and murder contained in my book. To the contrary, kids as young as ten have sent me autobiographical letters written in crayon, complete with drawings inspired by my book, that are just as dark, terrifying, and redemptive as anything I’ve ever read.

~Sherman Alexi, Wall Street Journal, 2011 

In fact, I can’t make the argument that young adults should be able to read dark novels about controversial subjects better than Sherman Alexi does so click on the link to the WSJ article and read it.

And to his impassioned response, I can only say, “Amen.”



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