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Thread that Runs so True

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  469 ratings  ·  71 reviews
A personal narrative of the author's experiences as a teacher in the mountain region of Kentucky.
Paperback, 304 pages
Published January 1st 1950 by Touchstone (first published August 15th 1949)
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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 5 of 5 stars
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
Lauren Crigger
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.
This book is about rural schools in Kentucky. Teachers were poorly paid, some times earning $96 per month. They had no organized activities for the kids, & no money to spend on them. Most teachers had another job so they could get by on their incomes. Many quit teaching because they could earn more money working in unskilled labor jobs.
This book would likely be of interest to today's teachers.
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
William J
The thread that runs so true is an inspiring book.It shows how impotant teachers should instruct and learn from their students.Showing that teachers could inspire students to want to learn.Want knowledge and to know what to do with the knowledge.Inspiring students and teachers everywhere that learning can be interesting.With a will power the next generation will be greater than the next.
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
My favorite book on education and learning.
Aug 18, 2007 Suzanne rated it 3 of 5 stars
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.
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."
May 23, 2008 Karen rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Karen by: found it, like most of my books by browsing the shelves at the b
What a wonderful book. I had read "Little Heathens" and enjoyed it as a great story but this is so much more! It is a slice of not only a way of life but a view as to how it should be lived, how and what it means to be educated.

What I regret is that he gives almost no information on his year in Europe as a Guggenheim fellow. Surely that would have been another book.
Not bad for a backwoods Kentucky boy! Oh the places an education and an ambition to have it will take you!
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.
Beth Farley
I read this because it was required reading for my high schoolers at the time.
Apr 20, 2008 Kelly rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Kelly by: Jen Tingey
Jen T recommended this book while I was recovering and found it to be a good story, good narration, and also really interesting tidbits of history regarding how the mountain-one-room-all-grades schools were run. His story about how he taught a school when he hadn't graduated high school yet (age 17) really answered a few questions I've had since I was a little girl regarding "Anne of Green Gables" ! It's a fun book.
Poor students in the backwoods of Kentucky leave a trail of blood in the snow. They have no shoes and their tortured walk to the one-room schoolhouse would test the best of us, but their desire for an education supersedes the pain. This was not so long ago, either. A poignant story of how a dedicated teacher fills the learning hunger in the hearts of these amazing students.
Oct 10, 2008 Liz rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Liz by: David Stivers
Autobiography of a rural Kentucky school teacher / principal / superintendent up against the various issues. It was recommended by a retired school teacher who thinks it's the best book ever written. I didn't get quite that much out of it except to be relieved that I'm not in the school system in rural Kentucky. Good writing, though, and I'll go see what else he's done.
An excellent 'teacher' book. I was very impressed with this man's tenacity. He took what little education he had and did everything in his power to take what he could to others. Considering the near hostile environment so many had towards teachers and education at that time, he really did accomplish great things. Hooray for education and hooray for those who fight for it.
The stories in this book are completely entertaining - and his thoughts on the profession of teaching I think should be read by everyone. Lots of Kentucky history and culture in here as well!
I read this in school in Germany. My English teacher recommended it. While I do not recall the story, I just recall I liked it and I plan to read again
Finished a second time last week while in California. Just as good if not better than before because as an adult I see what it takes in some people and places to get an education.
In spite of the three stars, I really enjoyed this book, and recommend it. It's a fascinating look at the country of the 1920's and '30's, and is a reminder to appreciate the relative ease of education for us now. I gave it three stars because the prose wasn't polished and the story dragged in parts, but it was enjoyable nevertheless.
Patricia Bergman
Those who have childen in school, or are teachers must read this book. It not only entertains but is thought provoking. Since this book was written, many law have been passed that have encouraged some to enter the field of teaching. Other regulations have discouraged good people. I highly recommend this book.
I felt a special interest in this because it took place near where my Grandmother grew up. It was also a fun book to read because Catherine Marshall's book Christy left me longing for another rural teacher book, and this one fit the bill...not as well written or exciting, but worth reading.
Mary Ann
Apr 20, 2009 Mary Ann marked it as to-read
I started this book awhile back, but didn't go ahead and read it. I like Jesse Stuart, an old-fashioned country Kentucky boy, and this is a memoir of a country schoolmaster in the backwoods. Which is one of my favorite topics, so I think I'll enjoy it. Highly recommended by my wise Aunt Dorothy.
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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.
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