these lists of books to read before you die that are full of classics are all well and good but what if you don’t like classics? and what about the ya ones that are just full of popular series? so this is an alternative list of ya books you should read before you die. thanks to everyone who contributed books; i’ve had to miss some off because i’ve got more than 100, so i’ll probably include them on a second list. (also, i’ve not actually read all these books. it’s a group effort)
Back in May, the #weneeddiversebooks campaign lit a fire to fulfill the desperate need for diverse books in children’s literature. Behind the Book has always championed efforts to find diverse authors and protagonists that will appeal to students since we serve communities of color. For your enjoyment (and enrichment), we’ve created an epic list of diverse books to reflect the diversity in our city; here’s our list for high school students.
You can do it.’ Do you understand how amazing it is to hear that from an adult? Do you understand how amazing it is to hear that from anybody? It’s one of the simplest sentences in the world, just four words, but they’re the four hugest words in the world when they’re put together.
You can do it.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (2009)
“Bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.
Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author’s own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by Ellen Forney that reflect the character’s art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live. ”
Sherman Alexie is the author of, most recently, Blasphemy, stories, from Grove Press, and Face, poetry, from Hanging Loose Press. He is the winner of the 2010 PEN/Faulkner Award, the 2007 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, the 2001 PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story, and a Special Citation for the 1994 PEN/Hemingway Award for Best First Fiction. Smoke Signals, the film he wrote and coproduced, won both the Audience Award and the Filmmakers Trophy at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival. Alexie lives with his family in Seattle.
So, this happened: Someone called the cops on a teenager for giving away free books.
At—wait for it—a book giveaway event.
Just last week, we wrote about the difficulties Sherman Alexie’s acclaimed Young Adult novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, had faced during its four-year-run as one of the most banned books in the U.S.
Two weeks ago, parents in the Idaho school district of Meridian successfully campaigned to remove Alexie’s novel from its 10th-grade reading curriculum and additional reading lists.
Wednesday night, irate parents literally called the cops to the scene where Meridian teens were passing out free copies of Alexie’s novel. Boise news station KBOI reported that even the cops were baffled about why they’d been asked to police a book giveaway.
A National Book Award-winner, The Absolutely True Diary is a searing coming-of-age story about a Native American teenager who decides to attend an all-white high school outside of his reservation. It’s a powerful narrative about modern race relations in the U.S. But the Meridian school board sided with parents who objected to its alleged sexual and anti-Christian content, along with, as noted by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, other stuff:
[A]n adult named Lonnie Stiles complained that the Alexie novel contains language “we do not speak in our home.”
Apparently the adults who objected to the book weren’t thinking about the teens living on Idaho's five Native American reservations.
In honor of Sherman Alexie’s birthday today, October 7th, we have reviewed one of our favorites, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Alexie tells the story of an aspiring cartoonist and his journey and life growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determine to make it on his own, Junior leaves his school to attend an all-white farm town high school, where he is obviously the only ethnic person.
Funny, heartbreaking, thoughtful and beautifully written The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian tells a realistic and contemporary tale of a Native American boy who desires to break stereotypes and molds inside and outside his community. Alexie retells his life experiences through his art by pulling away from his tribe, breaking free and beatings all the odds.
I grabbed my book and opened it up. I wanted to smell it. Heck, I wanted to kiss it. Yes, kiss it. That’s right, I am a book kisser. Maybe that’s kind of perverted or maybe it’s just romantic and highly intelligent.
“Reservations were meant to be prisons, you know? Indians were supposed to move onto reservations and die. We were supposed to disappear. But somehow or another, Indians have forgotten that reservations were meant to be death camps.”
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian — Sherman Alexie