Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian has made it onto the American Library Association’s (ALA) list of most-challenged books once again, though it has slipped from number two to number five since last year.
Cited for “offensive language, racism, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group,” Diary is the semiautobiographical story of a 14-year-old Native teen who explores questions of community, identity and tribe as he assimilates into a white, off-rez school. It is marked for adolescents in grades seven through 10.
The list is compiled annually based on numbers of complaints from parents, the ALA said in a press release on April 9. During 2011 the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom received 326 reports attempting to have various materials removed or restricted from library bookshelves and school curricula, the organization said.
Last year Alexie joked about not making number one on the list; this year he’ll have to content himself with being solidly in the top 10. Besides making last year’s list, Alexie’s The Lone Ranger and Tonto’s Fist Fight in Heaven and Ten Little Indians were among the books banned earlier this year by the Tucson Unified School District when Arizona outlawed ethnic studies programs and the school district shut down its Mexican American Studies Department.
He’s in some pretty popular company, with number one being the series ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r by Lauren Myracle, for its ostensibly “offensive language; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group,” and number two, a series titled The Color of Earth, by Kim Dong Hwa, for “nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group,” the ALA said. And proving that what sells at the box office is not necessarily a hit with parents, Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games was the number three offender, though the movie of the same name is a mega blockbuster, earning $303 million since its debut, according to media outlets such as MTV News. But the book has parents in a dither for being “anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence,” the ALA said.
Right above Alexie’s book, debuting at number four on the list was My Mom’s Having A Baby! A Kid’s Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy, by Dori Hillestad Butler, which is supposed to explain to younger kids how their siblings came to exist, but is instead being vilified by parents for nudity and sexual content.