UPDATE: Brunswick Superintendent: Challenged novel to remain in curriculum

School officials received an official challenge to a book being taught in one Brunswick County middle school. (Source: WECT)
School officials received an official challenge to a book being taught in one Brunswick County middle school. (Source: WECT)

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Brunswick County Superintendent Edward Pruden has responded to an official challenge of Sherman Alexie's novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian saying the booking will remain as part of the curriculum.

The challenge, delivered to school officials at Cedar Grove Middle School, comes after public discussion of the book took place during a school board meeting June 3.

Frankie Wood voiced her objection to the book during the meeting and said it shouldn't be taught in classrooms because of the graphic sexual language and inappropriate content.

Pruden said he reviewed the book and the appeal from Woods.

"I have read the book carefully, through the eyes of a parent and grandparent and the eyes

of an educator," said Pruden about The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

Woods based her appeal off of the books content which included issues such as homosexuality, profanity, and violence.

"I feel sick to my stomach," Wood exclaimed. "I feel disgusted that our children are being taught this caliber of education."

Pruden directly addressed the issues Wood brought up, but said they may do more good than harm for todays teens.

"Concerns about the book include references to the following: profanity and vulgar language; sexual content including references to masturbation and homosexuality; racism; bullying and other forms of violence; alcoholism; an anti-Christian tone," Pruden wrote.

"Those who defend the books as appropriate for teen readers respond that most of these troubling issues are already being faced by today's teens, and that rather than promoting undesirable behaviors, the book actually puts them in an extremely negative light; and in doing so, helps the teen reader to understand his/her own environment and provides coping skills and hope for dealing with these tough issues in their own lives," he continued.

According to school officials, the challenge process began at the school level. The Cedar Grove Middle Schools Media Advisory Committee decided Wednesday to keep the book in the curriculum.

The appeals process continues next when the appeal will be heard by the Brunswick County Board of Education.

Pruden finished his response by claiming the main character in the book can be seen as a role model for students.

"Arnold/Junior, is a 14-year-old who manages through courage and resilience to deal with and overcome these troubling facets of his life. He deals honestly and candidly with issues that nearly every teenager confronts: health problems, managing his budding human sexuality, trying to be socially acceptable in a harsh teen culture, domestic violence, alcoholism, substance abuse, death of loved ones, discrimination based on race, gender, and economic deprivation, and grappling with what kind of future he wants and how to achieve it," Pruden wrote.

Parents also have the option of alternate reading assignments for their children if they have an objection to any particular book.

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