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Stockton Reconsiders Ban on Controversial Book

The Board of Education for the Stockton School District is taking another look at a book they banned in April. KSMU’s Adam Murphy reports.

The book in question is The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. The board banned the book from the curriculum and the school library in a 7 to 0 vote at their meeting on April 15th. Stockton school district superintendent Shannon Snow says they have received a lot of feedback since then.

“We have gotten a lot of feedback from people who are both in support of the board’s decision and also people that feel like the book needs to be returned. So as far as community feedback, there is a large amount of feedback from both sides,” said Snow.

The board has received letters from many community members and even national voices such as the American Library Association. The association did not support the ban. In response to the feedback, the board asked a committee to put together a presentation on the book to answer some questions. Snow says she will present this information to the board Wednesday night at their meeting. That night they will also plan a date for an open forum so community members can share their views on each side of the issue.

Snow says the book was challenged because of objectionable language. Nancee Dahms-Stinson is with the Springfield-Greene County Library District. She says the language is no worse than what teens hear every day.

“I don’t think the language is any different than the language that most of our teens use or hear on a pretty regular basis. The book deals with issues of racism, growth, and alcoholism. So I suppose if parents or others in the community have issues with any of those, then they might have an issue with the book,” she said.

Cherri Jones is a member of the American Library Association. She’s also the director of the Curriculum Resource Center for the Missouri State University libraries. She says she feels the book’s subject mater has educational value.

“It talks a lot about contemporary Native American experiences, being accepted or not accepted by others, particularly within your peer group. It talks about a lot of very difficult issues that many of our high schoolers are facing on a day to day basis,” said Jones.

The book has received several honors, including the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.

For KSMU News, I’m Adam Murphy.