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Teach with Your Heart: Lessons I Learned from The Freedom Writers
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Teach with Your Heart: Lessons I Learned from The Freedom Writers

4.16  ·  Rating Details  ·  766 Ratings  ·  112 Reviews
In this passionate, poignant, and deeply personal memoir and call to arms, Erin Gruwell, the dynamic young teacher who nurtured a remarkable group of high school students from Long Beach, California, who called themselves the Freedom Writers, picks up where The Freedom Writers Diary—and the hit movie The Freedom Writers—left off and brings the reader up to date on where th ...more
Paperback, 265 pages
Published January 15th 2008 by Broadway Books (first published January 1st 2007)
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Apr 27, 2012 Emma rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-that-suck
This book pissed me off.

From what I gather, not having been familiar with the subject matter before reading this, Erin Gruwell was a break-away hit teacher (I know, right?) in an inner city school who won the hearts of her tough, racially diverse students by caring about them and believing in them and by acquiring and spending thousands of dollars to give them the very best, from brand-new books to a trip to Europe.

This book is her memoir.

I think I'm already inclined to be twitchy about the "ide
Feb 06, 2013 Stevie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read a lot of negative reviews about not only this book, but Erin Gruwell as well.

I found this book truly inspiring. As I am about to begin my teaching credential, I am full of enthusiasm. From my experiences in education (I am a teacher's aide at an elementary school) I understand that sometimes senior teachers do not share this enthusiasm. In the first couple of pages she reminiscences about walking into the teachers' lounge and not feeling welcomed, which I feel I can fully relate to. One o
Debbie Moore-hargrove
Jan 09, 2011 Debbie Moore-hargrove rated it it was amazing
After reviewing the movie and reading the book, it inspired me as a teacher to care more, give more, and encourage my students to reach for the stars.

I have so much compassion for my students and teaching to make sure they progress, graduate and achieve their goals in education, careers and lives that I let them know and try to stay in touch with them even after they leave my class to assure them they are still important, special and valuable in my life and I trust they feel the same about me an
Mar 21, 2010 Elena rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an interesting, engaging read about the Freedom Writers teacher and the major impact she made on the lives of so many of her students. While I thoroughly enjoyed reading her memoir, I am only giving it three stars because it is so idealistic and unrealistic to teach in that way. Gruwell sacrificed her marriage, and worked a second job to buy supplies for her students. Her interactions with the kids were definitely inappropriate, including driving them home, and taking them to Sarajevo, w ...more
Andrew Sydlik
Mar 28, 2009 Andrew Sydlik rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who want to see the power of literature, those who think racism and classism aren't a problem
This memoir about a high school English teacher's experiences at a forcefully integrated California school is both touching and disturbing. It reveals the ways in which race and class still split people apart and trap them in poverty and violence. With the other teachers and administrators largely being bigoted and uncaring, and the students being rebellious and mocking, Ms. Gruwell faced much adversity. Male students sexualized her rather than respected her, and both her white colleagues and he ...more
Merritt O'Boyle
ehhh. okay, I appreciate the fact that all Erins students graduated and obviously she had a positive impact on many (since they still work with her). let's establish that.

however, this story was so lucky and outlandish...and her tone so annoying.. that the book really grated my nerves. she doesn't talk much about how or what she taught beyond the mentioned book titles they read and their diaries. based on this, the way to be a good teacher is have your class read a book and then introduce them
Brooks Jones
May 27, 2014 Brooks Jones rated it it was amazing
Fantastic memoir by the lady who has inspired thousands of teachers. Gruwell tells how she got through to her at-risk students at an inner-city high school in Long Beach, with no support from her fellow teachers or husband. This is an amazing story of how she created a family for her students and gave them permission to care about themselves and their own futures. I loved reading her account of how she was able to make things happen, including getting money and transportation for field trips, sc ...more
Dec 15, 2015 Samantha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great memoir of a great teacher who started an incredible phenomenon. Not many specifics on how to replicate the formula, but you can draw out what she did as a teacher from between the lines.
Jocelyn K
Mar 27, 2015 Jocelyn K rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Grade/interest level: 7th on up
Reading level: N/A
Genre: Non-Fiction
Main Characters: Ms. Gruwell, Students, John Tu
Setting: In the area of Newport Beach and Long Beach
POV: 1st Person

She started out student teaching at the beginning of the year and stayed there for the rest. Then she get's freshmen students and stay's with them till there senior year what will she do next.They might travel and visit places no other students from there school have. She might just change the world with her students
Christine Fay
This memoir by Erin Gruwell is told in a first person narrative. While it was interesting to learn what went on in her personal life and inside her mind while she taught her high school students with her heart and soul, it was also disappointing to find out that she actually ran for Congress and lost. During this process where she was wooed by Congressman Patrick Kennedy to try running for office, she alienated a few of the Freedom Writers by hiring campaign planners that didn’t appreciate the g ...more
Apr 25, 2014 Kathryn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teacher-books, memoir
I believe I added this to my to read list after reading The Freedom Writers' Diary. At the time I was in the midst of my own inner-city teaching adventure, and was inspired by the stories of her students. I found this book somewhat repetitive, as the beginning basically sums up that book, but then goes on to tell about the years that follow. Again, the students and the teaching inspiring. All the writing about her divorce, running for office, relationship with her dad seemed trite, saccharine, a ...more
I have mixed feelings about Gruwell's memoir. On the one hand, what she was able to achieve with her students is admirable and inspiring. Having read The Freedom Writer's Diary years ago (prior to the movie) I was already familiar with Gruwell's story. Teach With Your Heart goes more in-depth for a behind-the-scenes look into both her methodology and personal life. She deserves all of the accolades and credit she has received for her remarkable work. However, whilst reading, I could not shake an ...more
I got this book from the administration in the high school where I am the librarian. While I don't teach I do have the unique opportunity to talk to students outside of a classroom setting. I even have TA's that come help me do librarian stuff. Sometimes I get TA's that just need to talk and a few of them have shared with me their stories, slowly at first, haltingly, but eventually after a few stops and starts I get to hear about their lives. Lives that are in many ways so different from my own, ...more
Erin Gruwell's memoir of her time teaching at Wilson High School in Long Beach, California, is an emotional read. She started as a young student teacher and taught for five years, working with some of the toughest kids that the district had to offer. Teaching English and moving up each year with the same students, she was able to build an unusual rapport with her students that intensified as they went on field trips and had amazing opportunities to meet important historical figures like Miep Gie ...more
Dec 07, 2008 Marie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes to read memoirs or inspiring stories
Shelves: memoirs, nonfiction
I recently saw "Freedom Writers" (the movie with Hilary Swank), which was based on this memoir and Erin Gruwell's experiences teaching underprivileged kids in Long Beach, California. Gruwell is actually a controversial figure--take a look at some of the negative reviews on Amazon to see what I mind. I've also seen some anti-Gruwell comments on web sites as well. I think all her critics are being totally petty and ridiculous.

I found this book to be very inspiring and beautiful. I wouldn't describ
Sara  Liebman
I enjoyed The Freedom Writers Diary, so I picked this book up in order to add context to the students' stories. I wanted to know who and what was behind these young peoples' voices. Turns out Erin Gruwell is not nearly as interesting or as talented a writer as some of her students. I am oddly compelled by this story, probably because I am a teacher and the thought of a teacher bringing about what Erin helped bring about helps feed my passion for education.

On the other hand, I'm not sure I think
Oct 10, 2007 Eva rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
This is an amazing story of what people can do when they are committed to something. I read this after watching the movie The Freedom Writers. They were both just as powerful and wrenching. The Freedom Writers were students who lived daily with poverty and violence, who believed they lived in a war zone in sunny California, who were ignored and belittled by their teachers. Until young, idealistic Erin Gruwell became their English teacher and taught them the influence of words and the power of ho ...more
Sarah's Book Nook
It's supposed to be inspiring, and Erin Gruwell herself truly is - she spoke to my class of new teachers a couple years ago, and she still cried when talking about her students - but this truly is not realistic. One lucky break after another, really just wouldn't happen. I teach at a fairly difficult school myself (sad to say about an elementary school, but that's life), and there's just no way this perfect storm of events and sponsors and so on would ever happen again.
Aug 15, 2014 Maria rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: in-2014
I found this an interesting look at the teacher who actually taught the Freedom Writers. I'd seen the movie with Hilary Swank, but hadn't actually watched the movie, and this was an interesting look at Gruwell's life throughout (and beyond) the Freedom Writers.

Disclaimer: I am writing this "review" waaay after reading the book, so nothing is very clear any longer.
Sep 13, 2008 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The teachers in my children's school district are on strike, and one of the issues is being able to make changes in a district-wide set curriculum. I've been fascinated with Erin Gruwell since watching the movie The Freedom Writers, and when I saw this book yesterday (yes, yesterday!), I knew I wanted to read it.

This is a wonderful memoir, detailing the author with all her human ups and downs, successes and failures, and what she learned over the years, since starting work as a student teacher i
Mar 10, 2009 Ji rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such a heartwarming memoir that gives the reader a frank look on some of the challenges existing in teaching, yet triumphs over these challenges. The author's belief in her students and passion for her career are contagious. Before I read this book, I didn't know why she ended up divorcing, etc., but getting a glimpse of her perspective and hope, I learned why. I, too, tend to bring work home and spend much time in my spare time, because I have a strong conviction in what I do. Despite some of t ...more
Sep 16, 2013 Pam rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm supposed to like this inspiring story of hope. Instead, I find myself thinking that there was a lot of good luck and timing involved in this story. Erin taught for a very short period of time and was involved with a relatively limited group of students throughout their high school career. She somehow managed to get the kids to open up, that is admirable. Then when the kids graduated she didn't end up cutting ties, but encouraged them to stay involved in her life. She left teaching high schoo ...more
Sep 14, 2011 Megan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book immediately following the Freedom Writers Diary. While that book is written from the perspective of the students, this is the story of the teacher's journey. She is an amazing person! I wish I could have that kind of dedication and talent with students. Her story challenged me to think about how I can be better at my job.

The one thing that bothered me about her is that she basically devoted her entire life to her job-- to the point where her marriage broke up and she was in fina
Aug 26, 2008 Logan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-bought-ebook
I thought this was sweet and inspiring. This book tells the story of how Erin Gruwell started teaching the students who would go on to become the Freedom Writers, accomplished authors, college graduates, motivational speakers and fellow teachers. She writes about struggling to work two jobs to pay for field trips and special learning opportunities for kids the system wanted to throw away. She talks about meeting Steven Spielberg and Hilary Swank, as well as her terror at giving speeches to thous ...more
Jul 01, 2008 Terry rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book, as I said in my review of Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire, is execrable! Her willful ignorance of the lives of her students is inexcusable and maddening, as is her hypocrisy when she is angered by her neighbors' reactions when she takes her students to her hometown. And most of her success is based mainly on her ability to hook up with a local millionaire who subsidizes her class and their books and field trips. How nice for her. She offers very little day-to-day examples of how she tu ...more
Mar 15, 2015 Rae rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am only half way through, so I will come back here to edit this review. I am a new elementary resource room teacher. I heard good things about her and bought this book. Naturally, my hope was that I learn things from her that will help my teaching career.

This book is a good memoir, I guess. Did she gave me inspiration? Yes, to a certain extent. Did she show me some tools I can use? No. I admire her for her ability to be creative and make things happen, but she was lucky, too. Who can meet Stev
Inspirational\nI wish it was more practical do I do that in my own classroom and my own teaching? Is she jsut specially gifted like that? Or is it something you can learn?
May 25, 2007 E rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: urban teachers
Shelves: urbaneducation
this has totally re-energized me and refuled my passion for teaching and for staying in the game and keep on challenging all the things that needs to be changed so that my students can really get a meaningful education.

it's a quick read and gaves a little more background to the movie and gives me a better understanding of how exactly she implemented her currirulum and how much of her life she dedicated to her students...and also how she has continued her relationships with them after high school
Jan 29, 2016 Emma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you have watched The Freedom Writers Diary then you know the basics of this book, but if you enjoyed the film then you may find that you also really enjoy the book. I don't know that Erin did anything extraordinary with her teaching, but I love how much she cared for her students. Sometimes just showing that you care about the student is enough of a motivation to work harder and achieve success. I'm amazed by her connections and the incredible experiences she was able to provide for her stude ...more
Nov 14, 2015 Kate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Uplifting. One of the best books I've ever read. A good read to increase your faith in the world & in the goodness of people.
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