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The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them Paperback – October 12, 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 292 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books (October 12, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 038549422X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385494229
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (356 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,864 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

When Gruwell was a first-year high school teacher in Long Beach, CA, teaching the "unteachables" (kids that no other teacher wanted to deal with), she discovered that most of her students had not heard of the Holocaust. Shocked, she introduced them to books about toleranceAfirst-person accounts by the likes of Anne Frank and Zlata Filopvic, who chronicled her life in war-torn Sarajevo. The students were inspired to start keeping diaries of their lives that showed the violence, homelessness, racism, illness, and abuse that surrounded them. These student diaries form the basis of this book, which is cut from the same mold as Dangerous Minds: the outsider teacher, who isn't supposed to last a month, comes in and rebuilds a class with tough love and hard work. Most readers will be proud to see how these students have succeeded; at the end of their four-year experience, the Freedom WritersAas they called themselves, in honor of the Freedom Riders of the 1960sAhad all graduated; Grunwell now works at the college level, instructing teachers on how to provide more interactive classes for their students. Recommended for youth, education, and urban studies collections.ADanna C. Bell-Russel, Lib. of Congress, Washington, DC
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

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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Customer Reviews

I recommend this book highly to high school students, and all teaching staff.
Rebecca Reynolds
Very good book and Movie...... Would like more kids to see it to learn about compashion for all people in the world.
Bonnie Jean Barry
He was captivated by the movie,and was so happy to be able to read the actual stories the Freedom Writers wrote.
Susan M. Mclain

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

103 of 106 people found the following review helpful By Clark Dollard on January 27, 2007
Format: Paperback
I saw the movie, then went out and bought the book. I sat down and read the book cover to cover in one sitting; I couldn't put it down. It's true that this book has not been prettied up. There is harsh language, there is sex, and there is drugs. But the writers don't glorify sex or drugs. They speak honestly about their lives, including their struggles with addictions, abuse, pregnancy, and above all, violence.

The book works because it is real. Erin Gruell's teaching worked because she allowed the students to be real, to be honest, and to be themselves. If anything, the movie downplayed Erin Gruell's accomplishments. From the book, one learns that she started her efforts to reach out to the students, including working a second job, when she was still a student teacher, a time during which most teachers, even in "safe" suburban schools, are just trying to survive day to day. The book also points out that there were 150 "freedom writers" in five classes, not the one small class shown in the movie.

I have been teaching at the high school and college level for ten years. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is honestly interested in making education a more meaningful experience for the students. It's true that parts of the students' lives are not pretty. But that is exactly the point.
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78 of 86 people found the following review helpful By Kelly Budd on May 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
The Freedom Writer's Diary is a truly amazing project that teacher, Erin Gruwell and her students created. The diary is insighful and offers much meaning to the reader. This book is the product of what young people can achieve.
The book is divided into a variety of topics where the students reflect on the assigned readings and make connections to their current realities. The parallels are often heart-wrenching and painful. These are their stories...
The Freedom Writers were students who were labelled as at-risk and unteachable until one remarkable person, Erin Gruwell entered their lives. Gruwell rejected the labels and saw the pontential that all young people possess, a lesson for us all.
The back cover of the book says it the best, through the use of literature and Erin Gruwell as the guide, the Freedom Writers, "undertook a life-changing, eye-opening, spirit-raising odyssey against intolerance and misunderstanding."
Highly recommended, read this and you will surely expand your awareness.
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55 of 61 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
This inspirational book is a must read for teenagers, parents, teachers, and just folks. If i could, i'd buy a copy for everyone i know. In their own voices and in beautifully crafted prose, teenagers tell stories of their daily lives: the physical and emotional war zones they inhabit become real to the reader. With the help of an inspirational teacher, these students read other teenagers' stories and learn to see thier lives in historical context. They read diaries by two girls their own age: Anne Frank, who died in the Holocaust, and Zlata Filipovic, who lived through the war in Sarajevo. This is education with a capital E. Erin Gruwell empowers these young people to transform their realities through the power of the word. The spirit of Anne Frank and the original Freedom Riders lives on in these young heros from Long Beach.
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45 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Cameron M. Weldon on December 14, 1999
Format: Paperback
Having spent an hour and a half with tears streaming down my face at an appearance by Erin Gruwell and four of her Freedowm Writers, I bought the book. That was Friday afternoon. It's now Wednesday night, and I can't stop telling people about this book. The kids' entries ring so true to anyone who's been around today's youth for any length of time (sorry, Erin Salona). The parallels that Erin helped the kids see between Anne Frank's and Zlata's lives and their own provided the inspiration for her students to pick up a pen rather than a gun. Their message of tolerance needs to be heard by everyone! I only wish I could afford to buy a case so that I could give copies to some of my former sixth grade students who remain "at-risk" students. A must-read for all teachers and parents!
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50 of 59 people found the following review helpful By shel99 on August 23, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I wish that everyone who doubts that one person could possibly make a difference in the world would read this book. Talk about inspiration! Erin Gruwell, as a beginning teacher who was "stuck" with the students that no one else wanted to teach, transformed those 150 students over the course of their four years in high school into a group of passionate, determined young men and women instead of the doomed nobodies that they originally saw themselves to be. These teens have lived terrible lives, survived situations that many people try to pretend don't even exist, and have come to adulthood believing in themselves for the first time. Many of the journal entries in this book actually made me cry.
I am a beginning teacher myself, and though my students are not the at-risk youth that Ms. Gruwell taught, I can strongly identify with her and with her accomplishments - giving me hope that someday I can make as significant a contribution to my community that she has to hers.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Psychic One on February 18, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My daughter is adopted. She is also African American and her father and I are White. She is well aware of the racism in this world. Also being learning disabled reading does not come easy for her. I got her this book in hopes to peak her interest in reading. I got so very much more!! She was able to relate to the struggles the students at Wilson High School were going through. Although she is not a student that would be deemed "Unteachable at-risk" as the students in this book were she was able to put her self in thier shoes and walk along side them relating to many of their day to day issues. My daughter has always loved to journal but now does it with a whole new purpose. I really had no idea this book would make such a profound difference in her life! This book is well written and easy to understand but not oversimplified causing you to lose interest. Written in such a manner you get to know the students as if you were in class with them each day. Making it easy to feel their struggles, pain and their joys. I purchased a copy for myself and read along with my daughter. This book helped me see more clearly the struggles my daughter was and is going through living is a world marked with intolerance. I wish every school in America had thier own Mrs. Gruwell!!!!
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