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

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  8,920 ratings  ·  1,175 reviews
Shocked by the teenage violence she witnessed during the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, Erin Gruwell became a teacher at a high school rampant with hostility and racial intolerance. For many of these students-whose ranks included substance abusers, gang members, the homeless, and victims of abuse-Gruwell was the first person to treat them with dignity, to believe in the ...more
Hardcover, 292 pages
Published December 1st 2006 by Perfection Learning (first published September 1st 1999)
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Aurel I really liked the movie. But I liked it for different reasons. I liked it almost as much as "Dangerous Minds" but for the same reasons, as an…moreI really liked the movie. But I liked it for different reasons. I liked it almost as much as "Dangerous Minds" but for the same reasons, as an entertaining movie which - at first viewing - moved me a lot at parts. Where as when I read the book, there was no doubting that this was real, it wasn't written to entertain but to inform, so it's great.(less)
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Erin Gruwell was a first-year high school teacher. She was teaching tough kids in Long Beach, CA. Her students are the lowest at the school so she begins with diaries written by others to have them create diaries of their own. She was able to stay with these students for all four years of high school. Then she decided to teach college to new teachers.

I teach. I teach well. An yet I find myself discouraged when I read books like this. Not because of the state of education or students in America.
I will begin by stating that I did not read this entire book. I made it through 50 or 60 pages. I had not had any intent to read it, as I have heard more than enough stories about the fish out of water young white teacher who is able to "save" the inner city youth from the apparent inevitability of failure. A coworker strongly recommended the book to me and actually put it in my hand, so I decided to give it a chance.

As I read one journal entry after another, I was puzzled by the fact that ever
Black Elephants
The only reason I picked up this book was because it happened to be lying around the house, and I needed something to read. I'd heard of the movie with Hillary Swank and intended (and still do) to stay away from it as I believed it was another "Gangsta's Paradise" cliche: white teacher, colored students, they all dance and learn. When I picked up the book, I thought it would provide a few anecdotes of interest before I returned it to its pile on the floor where it would disappear under weightier ...more
Valdir Delgado
Freedom Writers by Erin Gruwell is one of the most interesting books I've ever read.It is about how one teacher(Erin Gruwell) makes it her goal to change the way students in her class view the world.The students in her class view the world as one big war zone and have their own goal which is to be able to survive the streets without being killed.Mrs.Gruwell takes it up on herself to show the kids the theirs more to life then gang violence trying to do so she risks losing her job and husband.She ...more
I work in an inner city school. This doesn't quite touch on the way inner city schools really are. For instance, all the kids' writing is in standard English. My kids, when expressing how they really feel, use what I call Urban English. I just couldn't hear my kids in this book. I related a bit to the teacher's writing. But there are a lot of realities that were not portrayed in this book. For instance, the teacher had her own room --- the same room --- for the 4 years she taught. The reality of ...more
I was pretty disappointed by this book from the get-go. Diaries and journals are interesting because you are able to experience someone else's life in real-time. Part of that experience is being immersed in the language, personality, and emotion of the author. The students idolize Anne Frank and Zlata, but don't allow any of their own voices into their writing. Each entry sounds just like the next with only occasional sentences that feel "real" and un-edited.

Good writers capture the energy of th
Jessica Baccari
The Freedom Writers Diary is an amazing, moving, and inspirational piece of art. It consists of a collection of diary entries written by the 150 Freedom Writers and their English teacher, Ms. Gurwell. All of these Freedom Writers are students at Wilson High School in Long Beach California, where they have been placed in a below average English class with Ms. Gurwell as their teacher. This is Ms.Gurwell's first teaching experience, and it will have a lasting impact on her. One of the first assig ...more
I had to read this after having seen an essay in Newsweek. We former teachers always want to to hear those great success stories and this is certainly one of them! My only wish is that the rest of the wonderfully creative and committed teachers out there were recognized like this one...the book itself was good. I found it a bit redundant. Worthwhile but I think you'll skip ahead after awhile. I don't want to take anything away from it, read it, pass it on, support them, give every hardw ...more
Athira (Reading on a Rainy Day)
I first heard of this book in Sheila's blog when she reviewed this during the Banned Books week last year. At that point, I wasn't too keen on reading the book, but when I saw the movie pop up in my Netflix recommendations list, I decided to check it out. I didn't have too many expectations from it, but by the end of the movie, I loved it. Who doesn't love a rebel? And I mean a good rebel -- someone who succeeds in something when everyone else expected him/her to fail. The movie was everything a ...more
Jan 19, 2012 Karen rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Karen by: SJHS Teacher Book Club
Unfortunately, I did not love the book. I wanted to, being a teacher who hopes she makes a difference, even in some small way, in the lives of her students. Particularly since it was a true story, it had all the potential of a classic tearjerker where this sap is concerned, and yet, it fell flat.

First of all, they edited it so much that it felt fake. I think I would have much preferred to see the diary entries as photocopies in the students' own handwriting. It would have added a level of authen
Brenna Hobson
1. I decided to read this book after watching the movie that the book inspired in class. I really enjoyed watching this movie, and thought that perhaps the book could be even better than the movie.

However, after finishing the book, I definitely prefer the movie. This is because I found parts of the book quite dull, repetitive, and I also found the writing style very simple and basic (although this is probably because it was written by a group of teenagers). Even if the writing itself wasn't very
Karen & Gerard
This book is inspirational to both teachers and students. It is written by high schoolers who were considered "losers" by the school administration of Wilson High, a racially integrated school in Long Beach, California. No one expected them to graduate. They are teens write about their problems and how being in Erin Gruwell's class made a huge difference in their lives. It is a compilation of their journal entries. At the beginning of their freshman year, none of them expected to graduate and we ...more
Katie Wilkie
Great book! Very sad, yet inspiring stories from all of the students. Many of their stories made me want to work harder to overcome my own personal challenges. What I love about Erin Gruwell's teaching method is that she first took a look at where her students were in their lives--their backgrounds, their life situations, and then she built a curriculum that would help them deal with their real-life challenges. The curriculum was tailored to be exactly what they needed to grow and overcome chall ...more
Krista Stevens
An interesting but ultimately unrealistic story of a high school teacher in an urban school in CA who does amazing things with her students. The unrealistic parts - first, the students write diary entries - what I missed immediately were student's voices. With one or two exceptions, they could have all been written by the same student - the stories were different of course (fresh, sad, poignant, brutally honest) dealing with everything from molestation to drugs to violence - but the sentence str ...more
This is a diary compiled from 150 students in Long Beach, CA. They were almost all at-risk kids in gangs, who lived in the projects, and generally were expected to drop out of high school and not live to see 18 or be in jail. Enter the preppy very white idealistic Erin Gruwell who was a brand new teacher fresh out of college. She gets the idea to teach them about the Holocaust after a racist drawing of one student gets passed around the class. After that it picks up, and soon her students are wr ...more
The book I chose to read was The Freedom Writers, by Erin Gruwell. Erin Gruwell, is a high-school teacher at Wilson High. Wilson High is a school filled with troubled teens, teens that have a hard home life or no home life at all. The students their look at one another not as human beings and possible friends, but as strangers that hold a threat to one another’s life.Erin Gruwell gets assigned to a class that had no future and were bound to fail according the Wilson administration. Erin Gruwell ...more
Linda C
This feels like a difficult book to rate fairly. You can either rate the story (as many reviewers did) or rate the book.

I am choosing to rate the book, as this is Good Reads, after all, not Inspirational Moments. With that in mind, the book gets three stars. There were a lot of great moments (and the story is very inspirational) but the middle of the book seemed to drag. It felt longer than 280 pages, to be honest. In order to protect the identity of the students, the diary entries were marked o
The Freedom Writers Diary is about a 23 year old English teacher named Erin Gruwell who has come to teach at Wilson high school in order to make a change. Over a period of time she works with room 203. The class gives Erin total disrespect as they all have bad background and have grown up in bad environments. One day Erin finds a racist note and decides to do something about it so she starts teaching them in a different way. As Erin works with them, she brings upon change as she makes them write ...more
Caitlyn Gallot
I decided to read this diary/book after we studied the film in the first half of the year. I was very moved by the film and was determined to read the book and learn about the actual stories of the students more in depth than what the movie had told us about these pupils.

This book obviously comes under the category of "a book with themes related to those we've studied in the first half of the year."
which is social inequality, and this book definitely has themes related to that as it heavily enfo
Michael Martin
This book was amazing. From the time I opened the book to the time that I put it down, I could not stop reading it. This book was powerful, sad, funny, and everything else in one. While it was a little emotional at times, it also carried a more serious tone with it. It depicted the racial tension with multiple gangs around the area and how many died and how kids ended up living in fear of each other- all to the point where race riots were started in the school and kids had to start carrying weap ...more
I was hesitant on reading this book at first. I don't normally pick up nonfiction, and ones with such violence as this one. I loved it from the start. Gruwell knew these kids were destined to do something great, so she never gave up on them. That's what amazed me the most about her because most of the other teachers did. They figured these kids wouldn't excel.

This book is however a hard one to read. You have to know that these children, 14s to 18/19, whenever they graduate, go through a lot of
Aaliyah Polanco
The Freedom Writers is the best book I’ve ever read hands down! It’s about a teacher name Erin Gruwell and her same English class that she had for four years. Ms. Gruwell really changed the students’ lives. It takes place in Long Beach, California, a town that is full of gangs. In fall of 1994, Ms. Gruwell walked into her class filled with “unteachable” teens; they didn’t know that she was different from the rest. She actually cared about her students and wanted to see them go somewhere in their ...more
I found this book to be a little manipulative. I understand that Ms. Gruwell was a spark for growth in the lives of these students, but I was a little annoyed. She taught these 150 kids for 4 years...why? Why didn't she try to reach as many students as possible? Couldn't she have sparked change in 4 different groups of 150 students? However, I greatly appreciated reading the students' impressions of the books they read. I am taking a few recommendations from them.
Aubriel Monae
This is a really good book for me. I am doing a project for my reading class and this book had me hooked from the begining. I loved the part when the boy got into a shoot out. That part was very interesting. I can read and understand what the students in Ms.Gruwell's class is going through. I also really enjoy this book because i can relate to it. I dont know what else to say about the book , but I do reconmend you guys to read it.
Leena Almashat
The world needs such people.
Mia Parviainen
Yet again, I'm reviewing a book where I've already seen the movie adaptation first. And this is a book that students often refer to, because of the movie, and ask if we can do "that," leading me to wonder what they truly mean. I know a lot of people who have seen the movie and have asked if I've seen it, wanting to give this educator a touchstone for inspiration--I assure you that I have quite a bit to inspire me.

The book is structured in the form of diary entries written by educator Erin Gruwel
Katie Carson
I decided to read The Freedom Writers Diary with a small group of rotating students during what our school refers to as XBlock, or an advisory type class period. Because I'm working with 8th graders, I felt they were mature enough to handle most of the material, which of course was previewed by myself before the readings. The short diary entry style entries were succinct and perfect for quickly engaging the small group of students I was working with at the time.
The entries are written by a low-
Jovan Rivera
Freedom Writers Diary a novel and movie based on real life events of one-hundred and fifty students and a woman by the name of Erin Gruwell, has opened up the eyes of many people and welcomed them into their lives. The novel includes diary entries from students that attend Wilson High School, in Long Beach, California. As a first year teacher at Wilson High School Ms.Gruwell was experiencing and seeing things she had never seen before. One day as Ms.Gruwell taught in the very diverse school she ...more
Antonio Ruiz
I currently finished reading The Freedom Writers Diary written by the freedom writers.the story takes place in California where most gang activity is taken place. I really enjoyed the book because it really explains what there feeling in their own word, which I can really relate to due to the fact that many of teens now a days are in gangs and its something I see everyday. the book consisted of 150 entries from Mrs Gruwells students from Willson high school in LA California. I really enjoyed th ...more
David Bonesteel
English teacher Erin Gruwell had her students, who had been written off as unteachable, write diary entries about their lives and activities in class as she exposed them to lessons about acceptance and prejudice. These diary entries form the meat of the book and many of them are real eye-openers. I knew that there are many kids in our society living in situations that are really intolerable, but I was nevertheless shocked by many of the things I read. In the end I was impressed by many of the st ...more
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“Don't let the actions of a few determine the way you feel about an entire group. Remember, not all German's were Nazis.” 73 likes
“Evil prevails when good people do nothing.” 58 likes
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