Native Village
Youth and Education news
January 1, 2011 Volume 2

Controversy Surrounds Book Read in Helena High Schools
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Montana: More than 100 people attended a public hearing about “The Absolutely True Diary of Part-Time Indian,” a book being read in Helena area high schools. While only a minority of the audience opposed the novel, they made it clear they don't want their kids reading it. Parents are unhappy with the 5th grade reading level, language and  subject matters.

 “Personal feelings, that you usually, typically don’t express when you’re talking to people, in a book they write those things down and it are just an uncomfortable feeling as you read through that,” says one parent.

District School Superintendent Dr. Bruce Messinger explains, “If you spend time, you know, with high-school age students there isn’t anything in this book that doesn’t occur within their peer groups.“

She also reminded parents about the opt-out policy that enables them not have their children participate.

"The Absolutely True Diary of Part-Time Indian” was written by Sherman Alexie, Spokane/Coeur d'Alene. The novel is told from a teenage boy's point of view. The lead character grows up on a Spokane Indian Reservation, then moves off -reserve to attend an all-white school.“ 

"Diary” is a National Book Award Winner and a New York Times Bestseller.

“It’s an honest book, and in its honesty it is somewhat raw and slightly profane at times,” says librarian Padraic McCracken. “Disappointed doesn’t capture the depth of my heartbreak I would feel if this book were to be restricted.”

A review committee will decide the fate of "The Absolutely True Diary of Part-Time Indian” by January 25th. There is an appeals process.

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