The Freedom Writers Diary

The Freedom Writers Diary
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Release Date
October 12, 1999
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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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Reader reviewed by shannon!

This book captures your attention, no matter how much you like or dislike reading. You get to see the different perspectives of Mrs.Gruwell's classroom, and how one English teacher can turn a child's life around. With the Rodney King riots exploding around East Los Angeles, a group of non- teachable, disruptive, incapable of learning" children of multi cultural race, learn to accept one another and to make the world around them better. The book focuses on the issues of hatred and racial profiling. The class gets to know what is really going on with everyone, and the problems they face every day. In the Beginning of Freshman Year, the students hated Mrs.Gruwell, and bet how many days it would be before she leaves. It was four years. She never gave up on them, and was supportive through all the tough times. The students read books about Anne Frank and Zlata. The idea of the holocaust shows them that there should be no hate between different races, and that what happens on the streets is totally unacceptable.  Mrs. Gruwell, risks her own personal life and family relationships, to help and support these 150 kids, who she has never met before they walked into room 203.

            Even if you havent seen the movie, I highly recommend you reading this book. It is far better than the movie, and makes you feel as if you were a student, sitting in front of Mrs. Gruwell, listening to every word she has to say.


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