I would like to take this opportunity to applaud Bruce Plato for supporting the inclusion of the book (by Sherman Alexie called) 'The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian' in the high school's optional reading list. I can fully understand why this book was included in this list. It is a well-written book that is presented in a realistic voice, and which conveys a strong message of inclusion and acceptance. I, for one, do not like to have my or my children's reading preferences censored and limited to those books that are 'acceptable' to a minority of people.
Recently, I even had a friend of mine, a Multnomah County librarian, highly recommend this book.
If certain parents and children do not want to read this book, they can simply opt out of reading it and select a different book. Do the parents who are objecting to the content think that teen masturbation does not happen? Do they think by not mentioning it or exposing our children to mention of the process, that it will simply not exist? Do these parents think that cases of exclusion do not exist in our community, in our schools? Isn't this a perfect way in which to open a door of communication with a child? This book is a very good example of a character overcoming odds, living through the confusing time of adolescence and coming out of the experience a person whose understanding of life is richer and deeper.
If Mr. Schimmelbusch finds the book offensive, he should simply instruct his son not to read it. But, please, do not try to limit the possibilities for my children. From what I understand, the book is an option, not an assigned reading. While the Lake Oswego Review reported that there is a group of parents up in arms about the inclusion of the book in the curriculum, let it be known that there is a group of parents who are glad that our children are offered opportunities to see life from a different perspective. As my children reach the age where book options are offered in school, I will support my children's choices of books, just as I do now. If there is a book that is distressing to them, I will take the chance I am given to open a dialogue with my children about their feelings.
Good literature is not meant to lull us into a stupor. It is meant to challenge us and push us. If our convictions are true and solid, a book will not sway us. We do not live in the world of 'Fahrenheit 451.' Books are supposed to stir our emotions, make us think, challenge our beliefs. If this is too uncomfortable for Mr. Schimmelbusch and his family, let them opt out of their children reading Mr. Alexie's book, but, please, do not try to dictate to me or my children what we read.
Patt Dolan is a resident of Lake Oswego.