Reading. It's fundamental. You'd think parents would feel the same way.
But last week, a group of angry parents in Meridian, Idaho called police when a high school student gave away free copies of a banned book on World Book Night to her schoolmates.
Which book was it? Just National Book Award winner, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, published in 2007, written by well-known Native American author, Sherman Alexie (Spokane/Coeur d'Alene). It's a coming-of-age tale about a Native American teenager who chooses to attend an all-white high school outside of his reservation. It's one of Alexie's most acclaimed (though controversial) tittles.
The book had recently been removed from the school district's 10th grade reading curriculum because parents objected to its 'sexual' and 'anti-Christian' content, though it still sits on the shelves in school libraries, according to local Boise station, KBOI.
Hundreds of students signed a petition to protest the ban and two Washington women crowd-funded $3,400 which was enough money to buy a copy of the novel for each of the 350 students who signed it.
Students, along with a local bookseller, handed out almost all of the books when parents called police. Needless to say, even the cops were surprised that they had been called to stop a book giveaway, according to KBOI.
“Someone concerned about teenagers picking up a copy of the book without having a parent’s permission,” police reportedly told the station. But, they saw nothing wrong with their activities and decided to let the giveaway proceed.
It seems especially odd to keep young people from reading considering the increased decline in reading – particularly among boys and young men, according to a recent study. Let alone the fact that Idaho is home to five federally recognized Indian tribes.
Alexie is no stranger to controversy. The Absolutely True Adventures of a Part-Time Indian has been on the American Library Association's most-challenged books in the U.S. list every year since 2010.
Alexie was unavailable for comment after posting the above tweet, but the responses are spot on:
Check out Sherman Alexie on Alicia Menendez Tonight: