December 8, 2017

The Advocate's Toolbox

‘Bless Me, Ultima’ Returns to Idaho High School Classrooms

blessmeultimacoverRudolfo Anaya’s award-winning coming-of-age story Bless Me, Ultima (Quinto Sol Publications,1972), considered a classic of Chicano literature, has been returned to high school classrooms in Idaho’s Teton County School District following a parental challenge that temporarily removed it from the curriculum.

Anaya’s novel—which is included on the International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement (AP) book lists and frequently appears on the AP exam—had been part of the tenth-grade English curriculum at Teton High School for years before a parent complained about its profanity last month.

But rather than follow the district’s procedures regarding book challenges, the school board immediate pulled the book from classrooms (though not from the school library) as they reviewed it.

The decision sparked protests among students and parents, and a response from the National Coalition Against Censorship’s Kids’ Right to Read Project (KRRP) on December 5 urging the school to create and follow strong policies that supported the academic freedom of its students and teachers.

Superintendent Monte Woolstenhulme has revoked this ban, reversing his earlier decision, and vowed to follow district policies, KRRP’s coordinator Acacia O’Connor says, calling the decision a “victory.”

Karyn M. Peterson About Karyn M. Peterson

Karyn M. Peterson ( is a former News Editor ofSLJ.