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Teach with Your Heart: Lessons I Learned from The Freedom Writers Paperback – January 15, 2008

4.4 out of 5 stars 54 customer reviews

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  • Teach with Your Heart: Lessons I Learned from The Freedom Writers
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  • The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them
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  • Teaching Hope: Stories from the Freedom Writer Teachers and Erin Gruwell
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Erin is a true inspiration and an example of the extraordinary difference one person can make in the world. She continues to transform the lives of students across the country through her work and The Freedom Writers Foundation.” — Hilary Swank, two-time Academy Award winner

“Ms. G., as the kids called her, embraced a concept that has been lost in modern life: writing can make pain tolerable, confusion clearer, and the self stronger.” — Anna Quindlen, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Rise and Shine

About the Author

ERIN GRUWELL, the Freedom Writers, and her nonprofit organization, The Freedom Writers Foundation, have received many awards, including the prestigious Spirit of Anne Frank Award, and have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Primetime, Good Morning America, and The View, to name a few. Erin Gruwell is also a charismatic motivational speaker who spreads her dynamic message to students, teachers, and business people around the world. She lives in southern California.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (January 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767915844
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767915847
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #112,850 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book, I believe, is a must-read for all teachers. It demonstrates the powerful and far-reaching influence of a teacher who made it her primary aim to nurture her students' ethical ideal and passionately dedicated herself to this aim. Our educational system has much to learn from Erin Gruwell and her students. If you are an educator, I highly recommend that you read this book. It will give you hope and inspire you to be a better teacher and human being.

I would like to respond to the two previous reviewers'critiques of Erin and her book.

First of all, studies have indicated that students do better when they stay with each other and with the same teacher (assuming the teacher is a caring one) for an extended period of time, the longer the better. Erin and her students must have recognized this truth and her example proved this hypothesis quite well. Secondly, so what if Erin only taught for four or five years? I speculate that the difference she made in the lives of her 150 students in those four years is more significant and lasting than the contribution some teachers make to their students in a 20 or 30-year long career. Erin is serving our society and our students on a larger scale by speaking and providing training to teachers on a methodology that yielded astounding success. I don't think she left teaching because she was "burned out". She was smart enough to know that she could serve the world more effectively in a different capacity.

And this one is to the reviewer who called Erin's book "self-serving and trite". Like you, I am sure all of us--as teachers--have spent our own money on our students and felt that every dime has been worthwhile. However, I don't know how many of us has actually worked a second or third job like Erin to cover our students' expenses. Erin is SELFLESS and anything but "self-serving". I am saddened that this extraordinary teacher has been so harshly criticized for what I consider an extraordinary act of love.
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Format: Hardcover
I read the Freedom Writer's Diary, watched the movie, and then read Erin Gruwell's "Teach with Your Heart." I have to say that, by far, this book is the best book I've read on an education related topic! Having taught High School students in California for 4 years and reading countless literature (journals, articles, newspaper, and books), this is one for the ages.

Erin Gruwell's passion, energy, and enthusiasm are extremely contagious. Her commitment to working with and caring for her students is what helped her earned her stripes and gain credibility, for they had become acustomed to being called "stupid" or "worthless" and being brushed off as problem children who many other teachers refused to teach.

The book chronicles her start in education with her student teaching stint, up until her Freedom Writers graduated from Wilson H.S. whereby she then went on to work for the University of California as a professor in the Education training program.

Imagine if each and every teacher emulated the qualities "Ms. G," as she is affectionately called by her former students, possess - what a change there would be in our educational outcomes and learning potentials!!

This is a book which reinforces the belief that every single person can make a difference in this world!
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Format: Hardcover
Erin Gruwell was a high school English teacher who slowly came to fame working with the "last chance" kids in her classroom she taught as a student teacher at Wilson High School in Long Beach, California. She eventually guided her students into writing their own stories which were eventually collected and edited to form the book THE FREEDOM WRITERS DIARY. The students that she taught are now known as The Freedom Writers and Gruwell has gone on to become a motivational speaker and the leader of a non-profit organization, The Freedom Writers Foundation. To be honest, I had never heard of Gruwell before until I saw the movie FREEDOM WRITERS. I am a high school English teacher myself and even though the film was full of clichés, it still touched me. As a teacher, I was more interested in learning about Gruwell and her story, rather than that of her students. That's why I bought and read a copy of TEACH WITH YOUR HEART.

Once Gruwell was able to capture the attention of her students and prove to them that she really cared for them, they were able to accomplish some amazing things together. They faced many challenges, the most difficult which seemed to be the usual bureaucratic red tape and school politics. Gruwell persisted and her students were able to overcome their own prejudices and racism and went on to lead better lives.

Stories like Gruwell and The Freedom Writers are encouraging and can be inspirational. In a field where the workers are underpayed, overworked, and underappreciated teachers need to hear more stories like this. Teaching is exciting and rewarding, but it can be incredibly draining, too. Reading about what Gruwell and her students were able to do and accomplish is an inspiration especially to educators, but also to everyone else.
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Format: Hardcover
Read the book then write a review...this is my suggestion to the previous reviewer. Otherwise his review is ignorant and meaningless. While the movie was a dramatization which it necessarily had to be considering it would be impossible to effectively account 151 lives in two years in the span of 2 1/2 hours. But, dear previous reviewer, if you actually buy the two books, you can spend as much time as you need on the factual accounts spanning 12 years and then write a credible review.

These books will mean different things to different folks but they should be read by everyone because they are, if nothing else, simple stories which reflect our humanity and culture. I worked with "throw away" kids for many years and see them on every page...but many people do not want to see them, do not want to empathize with them or the struggles of a teacher, do not want to know that racism and poverty still exist in this country...Anne Frank and Viktor Frankl told their stories and people still deny the Holocaust. This story is real, not drama, and it is representative of the struggle thousands upon thousands of teens face today in this country. Don't knock the ones who overcame and the successes teachers rarely achieve in these circumstances. Let them serve simply as the inspirations they are.
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