Subscribe to our Free Daily Headlines E-mail

To receive our Daily Headlines e-mail in your inbox every day, simply add your email below. A confirmation email will be sent to you!

‘Led by God,’ Brunswick woman appeals decision on challenged book

PortCityDaily.com is your source for free news and information in the Wilmington area.

A Brunswick County woman isn’t backing down from her efforts to remove a controversial young adult novel from one school’s classrooms.

Ash resident Frances Wood has appealed a decision earlier this week by a team of parents and educators to keep Sherman Alexie’s “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” at Cedar Grove Middle School.

Wood filed her original complaint with the district late last month, claiming the book contains numerous depictions of sexual behavior, as well as instances of racism, vulgar language, bullying and violence. Attached to her complaint was a petition signed by 42 members of her church, Soldier Bay Baptist.

See related story: Brunswick County school district receives second book challenge this year

In email exchanges released by the school district, Wood argues that Cedar Grove principal Rhonda Benton, a fellow church member, has the authority to remove a book from her school but has opted not to because of a perceived conflict of interest.

“I think the principal at Cedar Grove, simply because she is a believer and a member of the Christian church, when asked, she should have made the decision to remove this book from school because of its filthy content,” Wood wrote to Superintendent Dr. Edward Pruden in response to the committee’s unanimous vote to allow the book to remain part of the curriculum. “In this area, which is dominated by Christian churches, I think she would be criticized more for keeping it in her school then she would be for taking it out.”

District policy 3210 does state that the “principal or a committee…” can ultimately respond to a book challenge. But school district spokeswoman Jessica Swencki said Benton chose in this instance to follow the outlined process of committee review.

“The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” tells the story of a poverty-stricken Native American boy and aspiring artist who struggles with his identity after leaving the reservation to attend an all-white school.

Since its publication in 2007, the book has received acclaim–including numerous national literary awards–but has also been at the center of controversy in school districts across the country.

It has been banned in school systems in Missouri, Washington, Wyoming and Idaho for sexually explicit passages and graphic language. A group of parents in Chicago also tried, unsuccessfully, to have the book pulled out of classes in 2009.

Wood argues in her complaint that there are no positive qualities to the book and said she would not recommend it to any age group.

Cedar Grove’s review committee disagreed Tuesday, arguing the value of “the realistic depiction of bullying and racism, as well as a need for tolerance and awareness of cultural differences.”

See related story: Recently challenged book to remain in Brunswick County schools

“It’s time we call a spade a spade and a filthy book a filthy book, no matter whose toes we have to step on,” Wood wrote to Pruden. “And we need to quit being politically correct when someone does something we know is in direct conflict with the Bible. We need to stand up and shout. I know I don’t want to take the consequences of God’s wrath.”

In an email sent to Benton before an official book challenge was made, Wood said she was led by God to have the book removed from Cedar Grove, and would send her correspondence “all over the county” if Benton did not decide, as principal, to take it off the shelves. She calls the novel “sin, pure sin.”

Pruden will now review the appeal and make his determination. While procedures do not specify a designated response time, Swencki said Pruden will review the appeal and issue a response within the next few weeks.

The superintendent’s decision may then be appealed to the Brunswick County Board of Education, a move Wood has already said, via email, she will take if Pruden upholds the school committee’s vote.

Wood has said she is not the parent or grandparent of a child at Cedar Grove. District policy states that parents or guardians who do not approve of school reading materials may request alternative texts.

Hilary Snow is a reporter at Port City Daily. Reach her at (910) 772-6341 or hilary.s@hometownwilmington.com

Share This Post

RSS
Posted by on July 18, 2014. Filed under Brunswick County,Education,Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

12 Responses to ‘Led by God,’ Brunswick woman appeals decision on challenged book

  1. jj Reply

    July 18, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    because the bible does not include sexual behavior, as well as instances of racism, vulgar language, bullying and violence.

    • Millergirl Reply

      July 22, 2014 at 3:21 pm

      Ha Ha Ha, jj

  2. Abel Undercity Reply

    July 18, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    Well, good thing she got God’s take on the matter, or she’d be coming off as an obsessed crank right about now…

    • wendy core Reply

      July 19, 2014 at 11:31 am

      Amen brother! Pun definitely intended.

  3. Michael A. Cummings Reply

    July 18, 2014 at 2:04 pm

    I’ve read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie and I can tell you that it is not filth. I bet that most of the people leading the charge against this book have not even read it. I’m sick of people saying they are being led by God when they want to remove a book from a school. This woman probably claims that God is speaking to her. She should be more concerned about the voices she is hearing in her head than she is with this book. This is a beautiful book — I would recommend it to anyone.

  4. MLH Reply

    July 18, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    “No positive qualities to the book”? Sorry, Frances, but that’s simply not true. The book is funny, wise, affecting, and real.

  5. I, J Reply

    July 18, 2014 at 5:23 pm

    Why is it that religious practitioners want non-practitioners to follow their rules? If they’re not part of your religion (or your denomination or theological persuasion), then they are under no obligation to adhere to your rules, laws or traditions.

  6. Cat Reply

    July 21, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    Has anyone who signed the petition to ban the book actually read it? It is really good.

    From Wikipedia:

    Alexie won three major “year’s best” awards for The Diary, and a California award that annually covers the last four years.

    2007 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature[12]
    2008 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, Fiction and Poetry[13]
    2009 Odyssey Award as the year’s “best audiobook for children or young adults”, read by Alexie (Frederick, MD: Recorded Books, LLC, 2008, ISBN 1-4361-2490-5).[14]
    2010 California Young Reader Medal, Young Adult Book (eligible to win once during its first four years)[15]
    The Diary was also named to several annual lists including three by the library industry.

    “Best Books of 2007″, School Library Journal[16]
    2008 “Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults”, Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA)[17]
    “2009 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults”, YALSA[18]

  7. Millergirl Reply

    July 22, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    If the Christian religion does not like something why do they feel like no one else should like it? Quit trying to ram your beliefs down others throats! Forty-two signatures is probably the entire membership of her little club. I will call a spade a spade, go and enjoy your beliefs, but leave others alone. You are hearing voices which means you need to see a Doctor and most likely be placed on medication.
    Also, I will let you know there is a wait list at the libraries for this book. At least you are making people want to read more.

  8. Shan Reply

    July 24, 2014 at 9:25 am

    This book is funny, heartwarming at times, and yes, disturbing. Racism, bullying, and assault ARE disturbing Ms. Wood. But they shouldn’t be hidden under a rug; they should be exposed for what they are–hateful acts. You are thrusting *your* religious beliefs on others and apparently you truly believe that God is on your side. That’s a little egotistical, don’t you think? I heard Sherman Alexi speak *after* our college selected Absolutely True Diary… as our All Campus Book a couple of years ago. It, and he, were incredible.
    Young people especially, should be encouraged, not prohibited from reading this book.

  9. Dan Reply

    July 26, 2014 at 9:53 am

    This type of action sells more books than any of the numerous awards. It is a gift to Mr. Alexi to keep an older book in the public eye. Keep giving them rope. They seem to know what to do with it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Website Development: Web Development Technology Partners, inc.