In a victory for the freedom to read, the school board in Annandale, Minnesota has chosen to keep Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian in the 9th grade curriculum despite calls from a small group of parents to ban it due to “explicit language.” CBLDF and other sponsors of the Kids’ Right to Read Project last week sent a letter to the board in defense of the book.
Absolutely True Diary has been assigned to 9th graders at Annandale High School for the past six years without any issues, since parents or students may choose an alternate reading assignment if they’re uncomfortable with the primary one for any reason. The book is frequently challenged in schools around the country for language–including a racial slur used by a bully against the protagonist–as well as mentions of alcohol and drug use. Just a few months ago, in fact, the school board in the New London-Spicer school district about an hour’s drive from Annandale also voted to retain it in response to a challenge.
CBLDF has joined several other defenses of Alexie’s award-winning novel over the years. It has appeared on ALA’s annual list of the most challenged books on several occasions since its 2007 publication despite accolades from the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and more. It won the 2007 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature and several other awards, and has been included in school curricula around the country since publication.
Below, check out the full letter sent by CBLDF and our partners in the Kids’ Right to Read Project including the National Coalition Against Censorship, the National Council of Teachers of English, the Association of American Publishers, American Booksellers for Free Expression, and the Authors Guild.
Contributing Editor Maren Williams is a reference librarian who enjoys free speech and rescue dogs.