Meridian book vote prompts fundraiser

Two weeks after Meridian trustees voted to keep a controversial novel in administrative limbo, two women are raising money to put the book into students’ hands.

Jennifer Lott of Spokane, Wash, and Sara Baker of Seattle are raising money to buy 350 copies of “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.” They want to buy one book for every student who signed petitions urging the School Board to return the 2007 Sherman Alexie novel to the school reading list.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian“Blocking students from learning about controversial ideas just never seems to work, in my experience,” Lott told the Inlander in Spokane.

According to the Inlander, Lott and Baker are working with a Meridian teacher who hopes to distribute the donated books on April 23, in honor of World Book Night.

Alexie’s novel is written from the perspective of an American Indian teen-ager who is trying to adjust to an all-white high school. Critics object to the book’s profanity and references to masturbation, and say the book advances anti-Christian themes. Supporters say the book delivers a powerful message about assimilation.

The novel had been on the Meridian district’s supplemental reading list, but was removed earlier this year in response to parent complaints. The School Board voted on April 1 to keep the book on hold, search for a possible book to take its place on the supplemental list, and launch a full review of district reading lists. That means the book could be permanently removed from the district’s reading list — or possibly reinstated.

For more reactions to the Meridian School Board vote, click on this link.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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