A coming of age novel exploring the tumultuous, life-changing school year of a Native American teenager is the fall reading selection of NAUreads.

All incoming students are encouraged to pick up their free copy of Sherman Alexie’s semiautobiographical book,The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

“The book is about a student who overcomes adversity and makes very intentional decisions about his education,” said Rebecca Campbell, director of academic transition programs and associate professor of educational psychology. “This can relate to our first year-students as they embark on the educational process and make their own decisions on their educational journey.”

NAUreads, a program developed to spark conversation among first-year students and provide a common theme in academia, chose the novel based on its multiple themes and ties to education.

Written as a diary, the award-winning book recounts the trials of Arnold “Junior” Spirit as he learns to embrace his heritage and take control of his life when he leaves the Spokane Indian Reservation school to attend the white school in a neighboring farming community.

“Faculty across many disciplines can incorporate this book into existing classes, weaving it in where the powerful themes and ideas resonate,” Campbell said. “The book’s central theme is about cultural responsiveness and ties in with NAU’s strategic goals of diversity and creating a culture of inclusion, civility and respect.”

NAUreads hopes to initiate conversations about the novel through book club discussions, author presentations, a film series, lectures and class discussions. The entire campus community is invited to participate.

NAUreads also is partnering with the Flagstaff Public Library to present a one book, one community concept in August that promotes conversation between campus and the community.

For information contact Rebecca Campbell at (928) 523–8225.


Professors across campus can employ Sherman Alexie’s compelling novel, The Absolutely True Diary Themes found in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian of a Part-Time Indian, to support themes within their disciplines. Alexie delves into the following issues:
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Hope Inclusion, civility and respect
Community Disparities in schooling: academic, financial
Stereotyping Native American culture
Teasing/bullying Cultural perspectives on grief
Family structures and dynamics Cultural perspectives on holidays
Poverty and economic sustainability Banned books
Health issues: hunger, alcoholism,
eating disorders
Voice, viewpoints, and alternative histories
Friendship