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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Frances Wood wants "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" off Brunswick County School shelves.

"This book is not morally acceptable," Wood says.

She's appealed Cedar Grove Middle School's decision to keep the book, taking her effort to the superintendent.

The book is acclaimed as an accurate depiction of bullying and racism, but she says if it were a movie it'd be rated "R" making it inappropriate for 8th grade students.

She highlighted sections she considers inappropriate:

          'Indians are living proof that n****** f*** buffalo … Rodger and his friends were laughing like crazy. I couldn't let them get away with this s***.'

                                                             -The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian        


She's not the first fighting against this piece of literature. Sherman Alexie is a highly decorated writer, he's also one of the most banned living authors.

'The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian' has been banned from schools in at least three states. Parents in a Chicago school district tried fighting it in '09. Wood's husband Caroll says, this should be a no-brainer in the "bible belt."

"If a city like Chicago says that a book like this is not satisfactory for their children," Wood said. "Why in the world would we in Brunswick county say it's acceptable for our children?"

Wood worked with children for 40 years. She says ultimately, she's worried about the impression it could make on young minds.

"It's ok in the book and they read it, why isn't it ok for them? That's unacceptable in any category. Everything in it is degrading. There's nothing uplifting in it," Wood said.

If Dr. Pruden decides to keep the book Wood's appeal will be taken to the school board. 


Comment on this Story

  • I wanted to re-write this story on my site, but before I ask for permission

  • Curtiss

    The majority of comments here represent who we have become. Common rules of decency have been sacrificed for political correctness.This kind of language has no place in our schools. Cmon.

  • burgerboy

    if them old liberal troublemakers laying up on that school board knew anything theyd ban that indian book, and ban that old colour pruple, and would make a confederacy of dunces required reading but they won’t cause there ignorent!!!

  • Joe

    Shouldn’t that read, “they’re ignorant”?

  • Mechanic

    Wonder how many times Frances (female Frances spelled with an “E”) has read it cover to cover?

  • what a fool believes

    Lighten up Francis, you sweet lil ol backward dolt. Sometimes folks like yourself get lost in stories that gots lots of grammar and bigger than life meanings like determination and never surrender hopes and dreams, from the point of view of about the lowest no good no count lowest of all: a pubescent American Indian. Perhaps a large community of your former students can now go ahead with a class action lawsuit against you for educational malpractice.

  • Guest2020

    Don’t bother with him. He makes numerous comments in this vein without regard for grammar or spelling.

  • burgerboy

    sorry abot the typo i was all stirred up when i wrote that and did not spellcheck what i wrote lol

  • Beth

    Why don’t we ban minds! Because surely that is next. The mind is a far dirtier place than any book ever thought of being.

  • My voice

    When an adult male teacher is reading about how good masturbation feels to my 14 year old daughter, out loud in class, I have a problem. She is not sexually active and he is placing those thoughts in her mind. It’s one thing to assign a book because if a child chooses not to read it, she can take a bad grade but to read it to her, out loud forces her to not have a choice. She was very offended by this piece of literature and too afraid to speak out against what she was being exposed to. She also begged me not to speak out because she is a straight A, college bound student and did not want it to impact her grade. He might as well have been reading penthouse to my daughter…oh but wait; that would be considered indecent liberties with a minor. What’s the difference?

    Oh, and you can fight the literature piece all you want but my degree is in English with an emphasis in writing and I was never forced to read anything this perverse, even in college.

  • Rusty

    Maybe she should go commune with the buffalo and ask their opinion?

  • Kathy Behnken

    14 year olds should already know about sex and all that goes along with it Mom. Sounds like you arent doing a very good job teaching you own child.

  • 8844

    Or conversely, perhaps you aren’t doing a very good job teaching YOUR own child

  • College Graduate

    as an English major without reading Shakespeare, Chaucer, or Twain is stunning to me. What school could you possibly have attended and graduated from that did not require these authors ? I am an English major and have read all of these authors and all of the mentioned books and these three authors ( whom I like by the way) all write in a style you would call “perverse”. Or maybe you didn’t understand them or you didn’t actually attend college. I also know for a fact that all Brunswick County students are given the choice to “opt out” of any novel without receiving a “bad grade”. If you did not receive a letter from school stating this and asking for your signature then you definitely have a legitimate complaint. If you signed it, well……..

  • Teresa Walsh

    With all due respect, sir, masturbation is one thing that keeps a person from becoming sexually active. Like the character in the book, I masturbated through much of junior high school and high school. I remained a virgin until marrying, and I credit masturbation for that, by the way. Oh, and I am a woman.

    Next point: your daughter is 14, and you don’t think that she has masturbated yet? Interesting. You choose not to think about it, which is normal, but just because you don’t think about it, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. You don’t think that other students don’t joke about masturbation at school? Most likely, they do.

    Masturbation is developmentally normal, and it is shameful for us to pretend otherwise.

    Third point: as a former English major, you should know that students are able to separate the life of the character from their own lives. I read about Abraham going to sacrifice his son. I don’t then go and do the same thing, even if I think God did tell me to. I read about Hamlet contemplating suicide. This does not make me contemplate suicide, something I think is morally unacceptable. In school, I read about murders, about wars, about rejecting God, about divorce, and yet none of this has ever “put these thoughts in my mind.” So why would reading about a boy (not even a girl) referring to (not even describing in great detail) his masturbatory habits make your daughter more likely to masturbate?

    Fourth: The point of Penthouse is that it functions as an aphrodisiac–its intention, as erotic pornographic writing, it to arouse. Such is definitely not the intention of this book.

    Fifth: In some countries, people have attempted to ban the Holy Bible because of indecent passages, such as breasts being compared to pomegranates in the Song of Songs, children being torn apart by bears, slavery being (seemingly) justified, Lot having sex with his own daughters. And yet, by focusing on certain passages, they are missing the overall message and big picture.

    True, this small novel is far from being the Holy Bible, but it does tell an amazing story about someone overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds, and it seems that this story is lost on most of the folks who just can’t see past some naughty words that represent how people speak. Just as people have repeatedly tried to ban Huckleberry Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird for language used, while missing the great story that can truly inspire, folks are also missing the big picture of the great story this tells.

    Sixth: I have taught in rural areas and urban ghettos. Here’s what’s similar in both places–people are not reading! The students do not fall in love with reading, and this hurts them throughout life. But here’s another interesting thing: in both communities where I taught (rural Virginia and the Bronx), students who read this book often credited it with changing their lives! They felt a connection with the dire circumstances facing the main character, and his dream of a better life, a quintessential American story of rags to riches.

    Many of them returned to visit me, back from a few semesters at college, and told me, “You remember all those books we read? Angela’s Ashes, The Absolutely True Diary…, The Color Purple?” Yes, how could I forget…with all the parents complaining. “Well, those books changed my life. They made me realize I could get out of here, even if just for a few years, and make something better of my life.”

    The harm involved in reading the book is potentially very little. A skillfull teacher can reduce this harm to next to none.

    The book one never reads will not change one’s life. And this book has changed lives, especially the lives of those who are truly facing unbelievable obstacles, in a good way.

    The harm involved in not reading a wonderful book (and this book is wonderful, despite its “filthy language) is far greater. The desire to censor is like a cancer…it starts small and spreads to greater works that also have much filthy language, like Shakespeare (very filthy! with premarital sex!–see Romeo and Juliet!) and Chaucer (The Miller’s Tale was particularly vulgar!).

    But English teachers like me need not worry. The censor is the English teacher’s best friend! What better way to make a book more appealing to adolescents than by banning it!

    I am not impressed with Brunswick County’s educational outcomes, according to graduation rates and state tests. Anything that gets them reading, short of Penthouse itself, should be allowed in the schools.

    If I had it my way with the students, there would a class, in addition to the traditional English class, called popular fiction. There, students could sift among the paperback novels and develop a love for reading not bounded by school authorities or English teachers’ predilections.

    Brunswick County has a long history of ignoring the Cape Fear American Indians that used to live on its land.

    I fear that the concerns about this book are really just a cover-up for a group of people that do not want to come to terms with its past.

    I wish everyone in Brunswick County well. Let the English teachers do their job, and let the parents opt out if they really think the book is that bad. Remember, it’s this book first, and Steinbeck next. I have seen censorship spread.

    God bless, and thanks for letting me post my views here. Thank goodness for the 1st (and 2nd!) Amendments. Long live Freedom in God’s country!

  • This WWAY story is false and misleading. Sherman Alexie’s book has been banned exactly nowhere in the USA. The last book banned in the USA was Fanny Hill and that happened over half a Century ago. Removing books from school in accordance with the law such as the 1982 US Supreme Court case of Board of Education v. Pico has absolutely nothing to do with book banning. Yet here’s WWAY saying The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian has been banned numerous times. False. Absolutely no WWAY. “Sherman Alexie is a highly decorated writer, he’s also one of the most banned living authors.” That is false. It is misleading. School’s have every right and duty to keep children from inappropriate reading material, and that has nothing to do with book banning, except to the extent “banning” and “censorship” can be used as scare tactics to force communities to do something someone else wants them to do. And in this WWAY story, it’s WWAY misleading the community with false claims of book banning.

    “Woman continues fighting to ban book in Brunswick County.” False and misleading title. We already know book banning never occurs anymore in the USA anymore. But the title also gives the impression, as does the story itself, that if the book is removed for being educationally unsuitable, it will be because of one person and not because of the decision of the school board. That is another tactic used to spin stories like this, to make it appear a book will be “banned” because one person didn’t want other children to read the book. If the book is removed, it will be because the school wanted it removed, not because one person wanted it removed.

    And the propaganda designed to overcome Board of Education v. Pico spreads further, courtesy of WWAY.

  • James Cooper

    Every article I have read about this follows the same story line. Mrs. Wood is 73 with no children in school, her objection is because she is a “christian”. Mrs. Wood I am sorry to inform you that your religious preference has no bearing in a academic setting. Were you this upset when the Supreme Court ruled that the teaching of creationism as science in public schools to be unconstitutional, irrespective of how it may be purveyed in theological or religious instruction? Your religion is fine for you and your family, but to use it as way to stop a great book from being used as a teaching tool and conversation starter is asinine.


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