Level: Middle School
Buy at Amazon.com: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Award(s): 2007 National Book Award Winner, Young People’s Literature
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian chronicles the life of fourteen year old Arnold Spirit, Jr. Arnold is an Indian who lives on a reservation he calls ”a rez in Spokane, Washington.” However, Arnold does not look like most of his fellow tribe members. He is awkward, wears glasses, and stutters all the time. He also loves to draw and records his life in a diary. Fed up with living on a poor reservation, he transfers to the local public high school. There, the students are rich and his friends on the “rez” consider him a traitor. Arnold must determine how to fit into life on and off the reservation as well as overcome the awkwardness of being a teen. Follow Arnold’s life as he chronicles it through words and pictures.
This book contains age appropriate literary elements and follows basic story-structure for a fictional text. It also contains all types of fictional characters, from flat and static to dynamic and round, which makes it a great text to explore these types of characters. The book contains use of figurative language with plenty of metaphors and idioms throughout. It is written in an engaging manner with creative language that connects with its intended readers.
Alexie’s book is a great book to use in the classroom. It is engaging and connects with students. The book contains a discussion guide to help teachers connect its reading to the classroom.
Some other great ways to connect this book to the classroom is to encourage students to keep a diary or journal as Arnold does. Set aside classroom time for students to write at least a page about their life and activities. Then at the end of the school year read through them and have them talk about how their life may have changed since the beginning of the project. Let them choose to write or draw in their journal as Arnold did.
Another application is to incorporate confidence and self-esteem lessons. Since this book discusses how Arnold is bullied and does not fit in, find ways to prompt students about how they have struggled with this and what it is like. It gives the opportunity to discuss how we are different and should be treated fairly. Also, incorporate history when using this text and encourage readers to learn about different Native Americans from Washington.
Opinion/Review of the Book
The book is an excellent read for students of any age. While this book is geared towards teens, adults can relate to Alexie’s writing style and message within the novel. This book is comical, entertaining and non-stop fun. As a National Book Award winner this book provides students with a glimpse of the life of a teenage Indian and his struggles as a teenager. This book accounts to this notion well as Alexie was raised on a Spokane Indian Reservation in the state of Washington. Students can connect with Arnold and realize that everyone struggles in their teen years. This book is given a 5 out of 5 because of its use of comical language, ability to connect with teens and classroom application at the end of the book.