And a Happy Friday to my readers! I’m off to Madison Square Garden tonight to see either a funeral or a stay of execution, as the Rangers battle to keep their season alive against the suddenly defensive-minded Washington Capitals. This series has driven me nuts, and I know now how frustrating other teams felt against the John Tortorella Rangers. Only thing giving me hope today is that the Caps are historically famous for blowing 3-1 series leads…
First up today, this is a pretty wonderful and unique story about banning books, and the power of one student standing up to a ridiculous decision by a school district.
As many school boards have done across the nation since it was published, Junior Mountain High School in Meridian, Idaho decided to ban Sherman Alexie’s fantastic young-adult novel, “The Absolutely True Diaries of a Part-Time Indian.” The book, which I read a few years ago in grad school while getting my teaching certification, is fantastic. Smart, funny and honest, it portrays kids as they actually are, not the way adults see them.
Of course, it does have some “adult” material; there’s talk of sex and masturbation and drinking alcohol, and quite frankly I think middle schoolers might be a tad young for the book. But it certainly should be up to teachers and students whether they can handle the material, not some religious zealots who think the book is smut.
Anyway, after Junior Mountain High School banned the book, student Brady Kissel decided to start a petition to have the book reinstated. The kids collected 350 signatures.
Then a local bookstore (God, I love bookstores!), Rediscovered Books started a crowdfunding campaign to buy a book for each of the 350 kids who signed the petition. It worked—the campaign raised $3,400, enough for a book per kid.
Rediscovered Books worked with Kissel to distribute the books on World Book Night, an initiative to turn reluctant young readers onto reading with free, super-readable books. (fantastic idea)
They distributed all but 20 books to kids who came in to claim them, but not before, get this, parents called the cops to shut down the operation.
Yes, that’s right, parents in Meridian called law enforcement to stop the distribution of free books to the youth of their town.
Are you freaking kidding me? Ridiculous. I love this line from the story: “Even police seemed to have no idea what they were doing there, and let the book giveaway proceed as planned.”
Not only did it go as planned, but when Alexie’s publisher Hachette got word of the incident, they sent Rediscovered an additional 350 copies on the house. So while the book may still be banned in the school curriculum, it’s available free of cost for any kid who wants to stop into Rediscovered and pick one up.
God bless America. You go, Brady Kissel.
**Next up, a beautiful moment at this week’s Sports Emmy Awards. TNT/CBS broadcaster Ernie Johnson beat out the late Stuart Scott for Sportscaster of the Year Award.
But during his acceptance speech, the classy Johnson called Scott’s daughters up on stage, and watch what happens…
Great job, Ernie.
**And finally today, a really neat video from a Microsoft-sponsored organization called “The Collective Project,” showing how the “ripple effect” of doing good, and being kind, can have a wonderful effect.
I saw this on Upworthy.com and loved it…