Friday, December 3, 2010

Parent your own kids...

Check out Neil Gaiman's comment!
I find it disrespectful and overbearing when a parent decides that they know what's best for everyone's children, over and above their own.  This is the problem at the center of yet another challenge aimed at Sherman Alexie's incredibly popular text, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.  “I feel protective not only for my own daughter but of all children,” said Michele Smith in an article on the Helena Independent Record.  This comes after a teacher already helped Michele's daughter to find a different book to study in place of Alexie's.  But this, yet again, is not enough for some parents.
Michele Smith submitted a request for reconsideration of educational materials to the central office for “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” by Sherman Alexie. A public hearing is scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 2, at the Front Street Learning Center.
There have obviously been objections, though mostly from those who are the educators.  And we all know educators know nothing about how to educate children or teach literature in an insightful and critical manner (sarcasm is intended here).
Padraic McCracken, teen services librarian at the Lewis and Clark Library, has read the book multiple times. McCracken said feeling like an outcast is a fairly universal experience for adolescents and, therefore, most young people can relate to the story. The parts that may be objectionable are brief, he says.
“Any kid who’s ever felt like an outsider, being the new kid, being different and all that comes with that will be able to relate,” he said.  “And, honestly, they help make the book more engaging to young readers because they are honest. … Thank God there is someone like Sherman Alexie to talk honestly about that.”
I would like to point out something incredibly profound and worthy of mention about this librarian.  "He applauds parents for getting involved and monitoring what their children are reading, but says any sexual parts are more heartfelt and touching than they are filthy."  He not only defends the novel, but that he also defends the right of the parents to monitor their children's reading materials.  But that's just the thing, each parent has the right to protect their own children.  Parents are not responsible for the reading habits of all of the children in the school.

He also acknowledges the needs of the children who are reading books at this level: 
“At that age you are talking about trying to engage kids with books when there are a million other things to be distracted with,” McCracken said. “This could be the book for some.”
I applaud Mr. McCracken and his well-rounded response to this situation.  I do not applaud Mrs. Smith and her desire to parent all children in the school while also depriving them of relevant and powerful reading materials.  I know some will disagree with me, but I find this to be yet another disturbing instance of book challenging with a very poor argument behind it.  I only hope that the review committee meeting in February will vote to keep the book in the system.

No comments:

Post a Comment