This just in: For its annual community-wide reading project, Multnomah County Library is trying something a little different.
Instead of choosing one book that everybody should read, librarians are putting the spotlight on Pacific Northwest Native American novelist and poet Sherman Alexie – offering for young readers his book, "The Absolutely True Tale of a Part-Time Indian," while adults are steered towards the short-story collection "Ten Little Indians."
A National Book Award winner, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is based on Alexie's own experiences. The book chronicles the adolescence of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation, as Junior leaves his troubled school to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.
Alexie's acclaimed and bestselling collection of short stories, Ten Little Indians includes nine poignant and emotionally resonant stories about Native Americans who find themselves at a personal and cultural crossroads.
Extra copies of the books are available (while supplies last) at all neighborhood libraries in early January, thanks to the generous support of The Library Foundation. Readers are encouraged to share these extra copies with friends, coworkers and neighbors.
Beginning in February, share your thoughts at a book discussion at your neighborhood library, local bookstore or elsewhere in the community. (More dates and locations will be available soon.)
The Library Foundation has made it possible for Multnomah County high school classrooms to apply for a classroom set of books and discussion guides for The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Classrooms will be selected in order of greatest educational and financial need.
Next spring, Alexie travels to Portland for an array of events including a talk on Tuesday, March 12 at 7:30 p.m. in the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.
For more information go to www.multcolib.org/reads.