77 pages 2 hours read

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

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 1999

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

  • Genre: Nonfiction; education
  • Originally Published: 1999
  • Reading Level/Interest: College/adult
  • Structure/Length: Foreword, 8 parts (freshman-senior years, fall and spring) with student diary entries, and epilogue; approx. 292 pages; approx. 9 hours, 30 minutes on audio
  • Central Concern: In 1994, first-year English teacher Erin Gruwell in Long Beach, California, draws criticism for her plan to devote the year to teaching tolerance and is reassigned to teach a class of “at-risk” freshman. She wins them over with a curriculum that connects literature to their real lives, and their diary writing turns into a project that spans their four years of high school and leads to enriching experiences they never could have imagined.
  • Potential Sensitivity Issues: Race-based gang violence; domestic violence; drug and alcohol addiction; homelessness; sexual abuse; statutory rape; rape

Erin Gruwell, Author

  • Bio: Born in 1969 in California; graduated from UC Irvine and earned her master’s degree from California State University, Long Beach; is a teacher, author, and activist; founded the nonprofit Freedom Writers Foundation; has been awarded the Spirit of Anne Frank Award and other humanitarian awards; hosts the Freedom Writers Podcast; Freedom Writers was adapted into a movie starring Hilary Swank in 2007; the PBS documentary Freedom Writers: Stories from the Heart (2019) won an Emmy award
  • Other Works: Teach with Your Heart: Lessons I Learned from the Freedom Writers (2008); Teaching Hope: Stories from the Freedom Writers Teachers and Erin Gruwell (2009); 1,001 Pearls of Teachers’ Wisdom: Quotations on Life and Learning (with Frank McCourt; 2011); Dear Freedom Writer: Stories of Hardship and Hope from the Next Generation (2022)
  • Awards: New York Times best seller