Sherman Alexie’s “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” was Most Frequently Challenged Book in 2014

Sherman Alexie

Sherman Alexie

80 percent of the 2014 Top Ten List of Frequently Challenged Books reflect diverse authors and cultural content.

CHICAGO — American Indian author Sherman Alexie’s “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” is still making lists. “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature in 2007 and was on the “New York Times” best-seller list.

Award-winning book continues to be controversial
Award-winning book continues to be controversial

This week, during National Library Week (April 12—18), the book gained the No. 1 spot in the most “frequently challenged book” category.

The American Libraries Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) tracks books across the country that are the most challenged.

A challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that a book or other material be restricted or removed because of its content or appropriateness.

Interestingly enough, 80 percent of the 2014 Top Ten List of Frequently Challenged Books reflect diverse authors and cultural content.

Alexie is Spokane and Coeur d’Alene American Indian.

“The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” is about a fictional character named Arnold Spirit, whose nickname is Junior, who transfers from a school located on the Spokane Indian Reservation to an almost all-Caucasian school.

In the book, Alexie freely writes about topics about racism and sexuality.

A current analysis of book challenges recorded by ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom from 2001 – 2013, shows that attempts to remove books by authors of color and books with themes about issues concerning communities of color are disproportionately challenged and banned.

In 2014, the OIF received 311 reports regarding attempts to remove or restrict materials from school curricula and library bookshelves..

The 2014 Top Ten List of Frequently Challenged Books include:

1) “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: anti-family, cultural insensitivity, drugs/alcohol/smoking, gambling, offensive language, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group, violence. Additional reasons: “depictions of bullying”

2) “Persepolis,” by Marjane Satrapi
Reasons: gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint. Additional reasons: “politically, racially, and socially offensive,” “graphic depictions”

3) “And Tango Makes Three,” Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Reasons: Anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “promotes the homosexual agenda”

4) “The Bluest Eye,” by Toni Morrison
Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “contains controversial issues”

5) “It’s Perfectly Normal,” by Robie Harris
Reasons: Nudity, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group. Additional reasons: “alleges it child pornography”

6) “Saga,” by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Reasons: Anti-Family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group. Additional reasons:

7) “The Kite Runner,” by Khaled Hosseini
Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited to age group, violence

8) “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “date rape and masturbation”

9) “A Stolen Life,” Jaycee Dugard
Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group

10) “Drama,” by Raina Telgemeier
Reasons: sexually explicit

The full text of the 2015 State of America’s Libraries report is available at http://ala.org/americas-libraries.

 

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