Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is no stranger to library and school challenges, and it survived another one this week in the author’s home state of Washington. The West Valley School District Instructional Materials Committee in Yakima, Washington, reviewed the book and voted to keep it on grade 11 – 12 reading lists.
The book had been approved as supplementary reading for grades 11 – 12, but had not been approved for grade 10, where it had been part of the mandatory reading curriculum for the last three years. A district teacher raised concerns over profane language in the book after her daughter read it, arguing that the community lacks the diversity to understand the use of a racial slur. The review committee found that the merits of the book outweighed the use of profanity, ruling that the book would remain on grade 11 – 12 reading lists.
CBLDF has helped defend the book in other schools, most recently by joining the Kids Right to Read Project in writing a letter in defense the book in a Springfield, Massachusetts, school district. Alexie himself is a staunch supporter of the freedom to read, arguing that “censorship of any form punishes curiosity.” The retention of the title in the West Valley School District is another victory for the right to read.