Wash. school district votes to ban book

Published: June 20, 2011 at 4:06 PM

KENNEWICK, Wash., June 20 (UPI) -- A book dealing with poverty, racism and death in strong and potentially offensive language has been banned by a Washington school board, officials said.

The Richland School Board voted 3-2 to ban use of "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" in classrooms of any grade level, the Tri-City Herald in Kennewick, Wash., reported Sunday.

The book, a novel by Sherman Alexie, is based on his upbringing on a Spokane reservation and his leaving to go to school in nearby Reardan, a predominantly white farming town.

The strong language used to describe the treatment experienced by the book's main character has come under fire from schools and libraries.

The novel, a National Book Award winner, ended up on last year's Most Challenged list by the American Library Association.

One Richland High School teacher who used the book in his ninth-grade class said its language was balanced by the book's worthy message.

"I especially liked the book because of its realism in describing the high school experience and its overwhelming message of perseverance," Jim Deatherage wrote in a letter to parents.

After the vote banning the use of Absolutely True at any grade level in the Richland district, all five board members conceded they had not read the book.

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