Sherman Alexie and Ellen Forney‘s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, a half-comic, half-novel was withdrawn from the 10th grade curriculum at Alton High School in Alton, Illinois after a parent requested their child have an alternate assignment.
The book has now been restored to the curriculum, after previously being suspended agead of a review committee decision. Comic book activist group, the CBLDF, along with other members of the Kids’ Right to Read Project sent a letter to the educational district, asking that the book remain available to schoolkids during the review process. They noted that the district groups all complaints including sexual harassment and bullying into the same group as challenging educational literature, with no “safeguards for intellectual freedom”.
As a result, the school now has a policy where individual childen can receive alternate assigments without triggering a complaint and seeing the book withdrawn for all children.
The CBLDF has, however, challenged Alton High School – and all schools – to “take steps to ensure that challenged books are not removed from the classroom or from library shelves pending committee review. In the past, other school districts have learned that failing to spell this point out in policy can result in one person effectively keeping a book out of students’ hands for an extended period of time, simply by filing a challenge and then stretching the appeals process over weeks or months.”
They cite Buncombe County, North Carolina in 2015, after a repeated challenge to Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner saw the book withdrawn from the curriculum of all schools for a whole term.
While this is the fifth school challenge and fifth success for Absolutely True Diary since the beginning of the year.
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