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The Thread That Runs So True

4.03  ·  Rating Details ·  630 Ratings  ·  93 Reviews
First published in 1949, Jesse Stuart's now classic personal account of his 20 years of teaching in the mountain region of Kentucky has enchanted & inspired generations of students & teachers. With eloquence & wit, Stuart traces his 20 year career in education, which began, when he was only seventeen years old, with teaching grades 1 through 8 in a one-room sch ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published January 1st 1950 by Touchstone (first published August 15th 1949)
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Aug 22, 2016 Camie rated it really liked it
I reread this book for a Bookclub this month. I always love books of simpler times. Jesse Stuart who during the 1920's-1930's was a very young teacher in a rural one room school with 8 grades of students whose families were mostly tobacco farmers and required them for farm chores some parts of the year, then a high school teacher with 14 students who were almost as smart as him and not much younger, the Supervisor of Schools in Kentucky in difficult financial times, and finally a High school pri ...more
Diane Barnes
Aug 06, 2016 Diane Barnes rated it liked it
This is a nice little piece of Americana. Jesse Stuart was a schoolteacher in the 1920's and 1930's in Kentucky. Pay was low, conditions were hard, but his love of teaching shines through, as does his rural students determination to get some kind of education. These were the days when 14 year olds could still be in 1st grade, corporal punishment was the norm, and you could get a $100 loan from the bank with no collateral except your name and reputation. A lot of his behavior would land him in ja ...more
Apr 16, 2011 Amy rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, education
This book was recommended to me by a library patron; she said it was her mother's favorite book. Since it was a memoir about teaching, I decided to give it a try.
The strengths of this book actually made me kind of sad...specifically, the author is very straightforward about the economic and professional issues facing teachers. The issues he faced in the 1920s and 1930s in Kentucky are the same issues we are dealing with today.
While some of his teaching methods resonated, I had some difficulties
Aug 31, 2007 Donna rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: every teacher anywhere
Shelves: fav-oldies
I love this book for so many reasons. I personally met Jesse Stuart is one of them, but I had read it before I met him, and my brother starred in the high school play version of it when he was a junior and I was a freshman in high school. Brother was not the Jesse Stuart character but he had a big part, and little sister was impressed.

I wanted to be a librarian, not a teacher by then, but education and the love of reading is a universal goal between the two professions.

After meeting Mr. Stuart
Oct 17, 2011 Ryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know why I was so captivated by this book. It may be that I am a school teacher and so the themes of this book are personal to me. It may be the shock of rural life in the 30s that draws me in. Maybe it was that I couldn't tell if he was making it all up because the stories were so over the top. This to say, I don't know if you'd love it, but I couldn't put it down.
Janet Aileen
Jun 27, 2016 Janet Aileen rated it really liked it
This well written, interesting, and charming book took me to Kentucky in the 1920s. I enjoyed his writing style immensely and will read more by this author.
Eugenea Pollock
May 22, 2017 Eugenea Pollock rated it it was amazing
One of our best car books--so insightful on the profession of teaching and so gratifying for 2 teachers to read!
Sep 11, 2015 Elaine rated it really liked it
Of course, I liked "The Thread that Runs so True" because the hero was an educator like I was. On the other hand, education in Kentucky during the 1920's, 30's, and 40's bore only a faint resemblance to my teaching years 50+ years later. Mr. Stuart solved many a problem in his schools with his fists. He could barely scratch together a living on his salary, and walking to his job summer and winter--sometimes 10 miles each way--sounds pretty horrific. But, I loudly applaud his courage, his stamina ...more
Jan 29, 2014 Kela rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is a lot of living packed into this book! Stuart shares the triumphs and struggles of teaching in very rural Kentucky in the 1930s and 40s. I enjoyed the book even though I felt like it took me forever to read it. Stuart writes in a very conversational style. It's more like you're sitting by his side listening to him recall tall tales from his teaching days than reading a book.
3.5 stars .... review coming soon
Feb 16, 2014 Beverly rated it really liked it
Being trained as a teacher, I enjoyed reading this and I am glad I never had to go through these circumstances as a student or as a teacher.
Oct 18, 2015 Barbara rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 06, 2015 Amber rated it really liked it
This classic was an interesting read. Jesse Stuart used to be a household name and this book was quite famous, though I'd never heard of it until it was recommended to me. It's about Stuart's teaching experience in one-room schoolhouses and other rural schools. He was an old-time teacher who got out of the profession as it was in the process of changing into what it is today. It was good for me to get his perspectives, both as a very young man and one with more experience, and to see some of the ...more
Angela Mcentee
I'll never forget the moment when my good friend in high school suggested ditching Biology. This was an incredibly novel idea - go to school but just not GO to one class? You can do that? yes you can! BRILLIANT!

Speaking of school, I picked up this book from the local thrift store, and thought, oh yes, I'm always interested in books about teachers working within impoverished communities... (i realized at that moment, hey this IS a subgenre - Conrack, To Sir with Love and Educating Esme spring to
Deborah Wilbrink
"The Thread That Runs So True" is an amazing story! I'm a former teacher, grades K-12 and adult in my career, always in urban high-risk schools. The stories of teachers in the days of multiple grade levels in one class amaze me - -I've seen some first-hand journals. Jesse Stuart has a voice that rings true and his experiences of having to prove himself physically and politically with students, parents, school board and administration are fascinating, showing how much school life has changed, as ...more
Sep 22, 2008 Jenny rated it it was amazing
I thought that this was a very inspirational book, though not extremely well-written. I wonder how much money I would have if I had a quarter for every use of the word "pupil". Stuart is more of a story-teller than a novelist which may be why so much of his story is repetative (especially near the end). --- I've read comments about this book that Stuart's story seems a little too much like a tall-tale but for those that are not native Kentuckians or from rural America it may be hard to understan ...more
Sep 08, 2012 Stacey rated it really liked it
This book is about a teacher who starts teaching in Kentucky at age 16 before he's done with high school. However, since it's the 1920's, many of his students have barely reached an 8th grade education, much less if they have passed first grade.

It is a story that shows how dedicated teachers in Kentucky were at that time, regardless of the very low amount of money they received, the conditions they had to go to work in, or the conditions of the buildings they were given. Sometimes the children w
Sep 08, 2010 Dawn rated it really liked it
Shelves: 50-books
This was an interesting read. Written like a 1940's thriller, Stuart describes his upbringing growing up in rural Eastern Kentucky - dirt poor but hungry for an education as a way out of his family poverty. He suceeds and becomes an educator himself, stirring things up where ever he goes by implementing new ideas, pushing teacher equity and improved pay conditions as his agenda when he was superintendent, and on the odd occasion, using his fists to both protect his students and send a message to ...more
Mar 03, 2010 Merlin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recommendations
When I was in college studying to teach this book was recommended to me by Don Webb who ran a one room schoolhouse for Dyslexic students in Maryland. Since then I have read it several times, and keep a set of copies at home that i give out to promising new teachers.

Ignoring the fistfight Jesse gets in with a student early on, his actions are wise and still applicable today. One example is when he takes over a High School he changes the sign out front from "Keep of the Grass" to, "Please help Pr
Linda Blake
Sep 08, 2015 Linda Blake rated it really liked it
The Thread That Runs So True definitely filled a niche for its time, mid-19th century, and shed light on the struggle in Appalachia for adequate schools and the corruption in local school boards.

Since Jesse Stuart is the autobiographer, he is the hero of his book. He trounces unruly students and opposing politicians alike. All his students are above average and his teaching techniques were the best. Today's teachers will find it an interesting read.

One thing can be said: he was undeniably supp
One of those books a teacher should read, this book tells of a young man's years teaching in the mountains between Kentucky, Ohio and the back of no where. The students of the one room school house have run of every teacher sent to them, including his sister, so he takes it as a challenge to last and to teach the children something. He comes up with great ideas such as using calendar pictures to stimulate the younger children, incorporating play into the lessons and challenging the older (intran ...more
Lori Shafer
Dec 01, 2014 Lori Shafer rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Appalachia fiction readers, teachers
This book was chosen for our 2015 Book Discussion group. I have read the book before when I was in college. It was part of one of my education courses.

If you have never read Stuart's books, I would put him on your to read list. I love his books. He gives you a viewpoint of a different time and place. He was a voice of the Appalachian hills.

This version is a biographical novel about Jesse's first years as a school teacher. As someone who was education to be a teacher, the hardships these people
Brian Tucker
Nov 17, 2015 Brian Tucker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stuart depicts education for what it was/is still to this day sadly (largely in Kentucky and across the continental US): a transitional career for many, due to state restrictions, politics, and lack of resources. His writing is overly sentimental, but what else can it be? He's describing a place he wants to remain loyal to, but the external conditions won't allow it. This reads like Mark Twain but more exact, with more depth and heart.
Jul 17, 2007 Suzanne rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Eileen
This is a book that was loaned to me by a coworker. It's an autobiography of a man who taught in a one-room schoolhouse, grades K-12, and was published way back in 1949! It was an interesting read, thinking about all that he went through as a one-room schoolhouse teacher, a principal, a superintendent, and how many times his life was at risk for what he did. I didn't find him to be a very passionate writer, with a lot of detail about how he was feeling along the way, so that hung me up a bit.
Lauren Crigger
Feb 18, 2015 Lauren Crigger rated it liked it
I had to read this for a high school English class, so of course I expected it to be dreadful. Surprisingly, it turned out to be inspiring and thought provoking. As the daughter of a middle school teacher, I am all too familiar with the plights Stuart faces when confronting the monarchy of education. He brings a humble and determined character to teaching, and his honest approach is refreshing.

This is a great novel for students, teachers, and anyone questioning superiority.
Feb 18, 2008 Krista rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2008
A fun true-life-adventures-teaching-school story, in the genre of one-room schoolhouse stories (well, at least it starts with a one-room schoolhouse, though it ends in a larger school; well, actually it ends on a sheep farm, but that's another story...). Has a bit of a tall tale feel to it, although it's supposed to be a true autobiographical account. Something of an apologetic for the importance of the teaching profession, with frequent hints that teachers aren't paid enough.
Angela Dworin
Dec 03, 2012 Laura rated it liked it
I was surprised to even find this book on Goodreads. My dad passed on a used, very old paperback, and I assumed it was long out of print. This is a memoir of a teacher in the backwoods of Kentucky in the 1930s. Sometimes it feels like it must be made-up because of the over-the-top nature of some of the stories - family battles, students beating up teachers, parents bringing guns to school - but assuming it's true, it's an interesting view into the culture of the "hollers."
Karen Hardy
Dec 20, 2016 Karen Hardy rated it it was amazing
One of the best books about teaching I've read. Inspirational, with lots of stories about the author's experiences. This takes place in the poorest area of Kentucky in the 1940's. With low pay and amazingly hard conditions, his persistence and love of the students comes through. Many of the issues and ideas he points out remain today. Jesse Stuart went onto to write many more stories, became a superintendent, and influence in the education circle.
Nikole L.
Oct 25, 2016 Nikole L. rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. Stuart is a great inspiration to anyone teaching children in any capacity. But it's also an interesting look into the life and times of someone trying to make a difference in the 1920s rural eastern Kentucky. Some of these stories reminded me of things my grandmother told me about her own childhood. What fortitude these people had. I have so much more respect for them all and for Stuart especially and their determination to survive and succeed.
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Jesse Hilton Stuart was an American writer known for writing short stories, poetry, and novels about Southern Appalachia. Born and raised in Greenup County, Kentucky, Stuart relied heavily on the rural locale of Northeastern Kentucky for his writings. Stuart was named the Poet Laureate of Kentucky in 1954. He died at Jo-Lin nursing home in Ironton, Ohio, which is near his boyhood home.
More about Jesse Stuart...

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“I thought if every teacher in every school in America--rural, village, city, township, church, public, or private, could inspire his pupils with all the power he had, if he could teach them as they had never been taught before to live, to work, to play, and to share, if he could put ambition into their brains and hearts, that would be a great way to make a generation of the greatest citizenry America ever had.” 1 likes
“One thing I more and this is all I have to say...High School is not a separate unit from you. We are apart of you. Every man, woman, and child in this community is a part...Your ways of life in your homes and your town reflect here in the school. You can help us or you can hurt us. Our success depends largely on you. I used to think when I first started teaching school that it was all up to the teachers and the pupils. I have changed my mind. The little island of humanity that is each one of you must unite with other islands and become a mainland if we are to have a successful school.” 1 likes
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