The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them

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Broadway Books, 1999 - Education - 280 pages
58 Reviews
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER & NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE

Straight from the front line of urban America, the inspiring story of one fiercely determined teacher and her remarkable students.

As an idealistic twenty-three-year-old English teacher at Wilson High School in Long beach, California, Erin Gruwell confronted a room of “unteachable, at-risk” students. One day she intercepted a note with an ugly racial caricature, and angrily declared that this was precisely the sort of thing that led to the Holocaust—only to be met by uncomprehending looks. So she and her students, using the treasured books Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl and Zlata's Diary: A Child's Life in Sarajevo as their guides, undertook a life-changing, eye-opening, spirit-raising odyssey against intolerance and misunderstanding. They learned to see the parallels in these books to their own lives, recording their thoughts and feelings in diaries and dubbing themselves the “Freedom Writers” in homage to the civil rights activists “The Freedom Riders.”

With funds raised by a “Read-a-thon for Tolerance,” they arranged for Miep Gies, the courageous Dutch woman who sheltered the Frank family, to visit them in California, where she declared that Erin Gruwell's students were “the real heroes.” Their efforts have paid off spectacularly, both in terms of recognition—appearances on “Prime Time Live” and “All Things Considered,” coverage in People magazine, a meeting with U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley—and educationally. All 150 Freedom Writers have graduated from high school and are now attending college.

With powerful entries from the students' own diaries and a narrative text by Erin Gruwell, The Freedom Writers Diary is an uplifting, unforgettable example of how hard work, courage, and the spirit of determination changed the lives of a teacher and her students.

The authors' proceeds from this book will be donated to The Tolerance Education Foundation, an organization set up to pay for the Freedom Writers' college tuition. Erin Gruwell is now a visiting professor at California State University, Long Beach, where some of her students are Freedom Writers.
 

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User Review  - KRaySaulis - LibraryThing

I wanted very much to enjoy this book. And some of it I truly did. These teens were amazing people. This teacher is incredible. I love the story itself. The story feels so over-edited, however, that ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - YvetteKolstad - LibraryThing

Having students journal can be a life-changing experience for everyone involved. After reading this book, I was inspired to go out and purchase 36 notebooks, one for each of my eighth grade students ... Read full review

All 9 reviews »

Contents

Foreword by Zlata Filipovic xiii
1
FRESHMAN YEARSPRING 1995
30
SOPHOMORE YEARFALL 1995
47
SOPHOMORE YEARSPRlNG 1996
78
JUNIOR YEARSPRING 1997
106
JUNIOR YEARFALL 1996
108
Ms GRLWE1LS DIARY ENTRY
139
Ms GRLWELLS DIARY ENTRY
192
SENIOR YEARSPRlNG 1998
219
Epilogue
278
Acknowledgments
312
Copyright

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About the author (1999)

ERIN GRUWELL, the Freedom Writers, and her nonprofit organization have received many awards,  including the prestigious Spirit of Anne Frank Award, and have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Prime Time Live, Good Morning America, and The View, to name a few. All 150 Freedom Writers went on to graduate from Wilson High. She lives in Long Beach, California.

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