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The Freedom Writers Diary: How A Group Of Teens Used The Power Of The Pen To Wage A War Against Intolerance
by The Freedom Writers with Erin Gruwell

Publisher: Main Street Books, Doubleday 1999
ISBN: 038549422X

MY HERO recommends this book to readers of all age groups.

From the Publisher
Straight from the front line of urban America, the inspiring story of one fiercely determined teacher and her remarkable students. As an idealistic twenty-three-year-old English teacher at Wilson High School in Long beach, California, Erin Gruwell confronted a room of "unteachable, at-risk" students. One day she intercepted a note with an ugly racial caricature, and angrily declared that this was precisely the sort of thing that led to the Holocaust--only to be met by uncomprehending looks. So she and her students, using the treasured books Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl and Zlata's Diary: A Child's Life in Sarajevo as their guides, undertook a life-changing, eye-opening, spirit-raising odyssey against intolerance and misunderstanding. They learned to see the parallels in these books to their own lives, recording their thoughts and feelings in diaries and dubbing themselves the "Freedom Writers" in homage to the civil rights activists "The Freedom Riders."

With funds raised by a "Read-a-thon for Tolerance," they arranged for Miep Gies, the courageous Dutch woman who sheltered the Frank family, to visit them in California, where she declared that Erin Gruwell's students were "the real heroes." Their efforts have paid off spectacularly, both in terms of recognition--appearances on "Prime Time Live" and "All Things Considered," coverage in People magazine, a meeting with U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley--and educationally. All 150 Freedom Writers have graduated from high school and are now attending college.

With powerful entries from the students' own diaries and a narrative text by Erin Gruwell, The Freedom Writers Diary is an uplifting, unforgettable example of how hard work, courage, and the spirit of determination changed the lives of a teacher and her students.

The authors' proceeds from this book will be donated to The Tolerance Education Foundation, an organization set up to pay for the Freedom Writers' college tuition. Erin Gruwell is now a visiting professor at California State University, Long Beach, where some of her students are Freedom Writers.

Purchase this book


Hero(es) associated:
Erin Gruwell by Jerrilyn Jacobs
Erin Gruwell by Annie Merkley

Users Reviews:

raivon jones 4/17/2014 10:24:46 AM
I just enjoy reading the stories about how the children has lived in a such racial and crazy life I wish them well .

exodus 2 11/2/2009 11:02:03 AM
i loced the movie and i was actually in a similar situation in chicago a few years back , but there was a teacher just like you that had a passion for kids and transformed every body that entered in the class room. thanks

David Hardy 11/2/2009 11:00:33 AM
The movie was so inspiring to me and what ms.Gruwell did with those kids.

kiki.. 11/26/2008 6:25:22 PM
Dear Mrs. Gruwell I am so happy to be writing to you. I am truly amazed at what you have accomplished for your students. I admire you for not giving up on the "below average" students. What you did keeps me in awe of you. As i read the book tears rolled down my cheeks, because as i read i found my self in the pages. Just like you told your students that they might find them selves in the books they read. I certainly did find myself in The Freedom Writer Diary. I felt as if i was reading one of my own diaries. I believe you and your students are an inspiration to me, and many other children, an even many teachers. You took the time to listen to your students, you took the time understand them and be there for them, when everyone else thought that there was no point in investing in them. Sometimes that is all someone needs, someone to listen and be there for them. You also supported them an encouraged them to do the what was right. You supported them when everyone else put them down. That not only took a lot of guts, because of what could have happened to you, but that also must have taken a lot of heart. I am sure that you knew that if you helped them and encouraged them their might be conflicts with other teachers,and students. Yet you cared about them, you wanted to see them break the cycle that was set in their lives. With teachers like you their can be a difference in the next generation, instead of all the hate i have seen. I also admire the Freedom Writer Students, because they did not just write about their misery. They took an action when they let you read it. It showed that they were willing to trust you. Maybe they wanted your help, an hoping that if you read it you would not be like the other teachers. I can understand your students. I have faced many difficulties in my life just like they did, and at such a young age. I understand the joy they must have felt knowing that you took the time to listen and not criticize them for not doing better, but instead encouraged them to want to do better and want to change. With you as their teacher they truly must have felt that the sky was the limit. Reading their diaries made me realize that i am not alone.Reading the diaries inspired me to go beyond all the limits that have been set in my life. I thank you for what you did for those students. It may have not effected me directly, but knowing that someone took all that time to invest in a child that was considered unteachable, brings joy to my heart that at least one more child out there will not grow up with hate in their hearts but with hope. I am in awe of both you and your students.

Forres G, 10/11/2008 8:29:04 PM
I watched the movie on television on 10-11-08. It ws quite inspiring. I am off work due to an accident at work. I lost my index finger on my left hand as a result of the accident. I was feeling a little down, well actually more than a little. The story helped lift my spirits. Thanks for sharing from your hearts. You reach people and help them, and that is a very good thing. I wish I could afford to make a donation or buy the book, but I can't. I want you to know that you have helped me this evening to make another day. Thank you so very much! Forrest

No name 5/17/2008 8:31:21 AM
I love this book

lkita  11/21/2007 8:54:58 AM
hey i first read the book because all my friends where telling me about the movie so what i did i read the book and when i was done i when and get the movie and i think it was the best movie ever because it has so many things that it was so close to me and other of my friends it was so good to see that and how people change for a good and i believe on it.

dude 11/14/2007 7:02:14 PM
I loved the book...the movie....the truth it held in it... I'm not from America, I'm from a country in Europe. And than every one goes thinking Europe is peaceful, understanding...It's all just a lie... My country is just something unimportant, a place you know you'll be stuck forever, which makes it all just harder... Maybe here we don't have much diferances in colore, but still people find reasons to hate you, to outcast you, just becouse you dress diferantly or listen to different they make your life a living hell...Here we don't kill people in the streets, there are no 'gang' wars. Why? Cause we found a new weapon. Words. Can you imagine how much a word can hurt? Words that are spoken, they can not be taken back, so they are left forever in your mind haunting you in your sleeep, up to the time you go crazy and can't take any more... I walk around town and all I see are empty faces, wiped of all emotions, lifeless...As if their soul is missing...And I know I'd rather be dead than look like that. One person can make a diferance...But what if the diferance can not be made? How can you change what people think, if they consider their thoughts right?...Her class, Mrs. Gruwells, was just one of many...And when you look at the big picture than you realize how much souls are lost in this world, how much hopeless dreams have already been broken... And so what is there left to do, after you read this book, but hope there is a Mrs. Gruwell in your town, ready to be the one who will save you? But what if there isn't? What if your left alone to face the world, without love, compasion...

Linda 11/13/2007 8:47:10 AM
I've got to say, the movie was So Amazing and VERY INSPIRING!!! I love it and I bought it the very day it came out. I am now searching for the book so I can read all of the students experiences. Freedom Writers really touched me and I cried throughout the entire movie! But what really got to me was that what happens in the movie is all so very true. I know so because I went through it too. For a whole class to have the opprotunity to speak out and have their voices be heard..... that's just amazing. Everybody can make a difference in the world. The just need an extra push to do it and/or realize it. That's what Erin did. We can all be heros in this world despite our age and race. We all make a difference in one way or another!

gaby 11/13/2007 8:27:28 AM
the movie really touched me.it even made me cry.but things like this do happen in life and we should all help each other to understand that were all people even though we have different races.respect people equally no what they look like.were humans wtih feelings and hearts.

TH 10/8/2007 8:53:42 AM
I have yet to read the book, but the movie was fantastic- just seeing the determination of such a fine teacher was remarkable. We are truly lucky to have people in the world who are willing to give up so much of their time to help better the lives of others. I am a teacher myself (in a school much different than Ms. Gruwell's) and have the utmost respect for her.

Stephanie Tomkinson 9/27/2007 9:49:02 AM
I Love everything that you have done for those students and many others, your a hero to many people and your a great person to look up too.

Nobody 9/5/2007 6:17:47 PM
I loved the book...the movie....the truth it held in it... I'm not from America, I'm from a country in Europe. And than every one goes thinking Europe is peaceful, understanding...It's all just a lie... My country is just something unimportant, a place you know you'll be stuck forever, which makes it all just harder... Maybe here we don't have much diferances in colore, but still people find reasons to hate you, to outcast you, just becouse you dress diferantly or listen to different they make your life a living hell...Here we don't kill people in the streets, there are no 'gang' wars. Why? Cause we found a new weapon. Words. Can you imagine how much a word can hurt? Words that are spoken, they can not be taken back, so they are left forever in your mind haunting you in your sleeep, up to the time you go crazy and can't take any more... I walk around town and all I see are empty faces, wiped of all emotions, lifeless...As if their soul is missing...And I know I'd rather be dead than look like that. One person can make a diferance...But what if the diferance can not be made? How can you change what people think, if they consider their thoughts right?...Her class, Mrs. Gruwells, was just one of many...And when you look at the big picture than you realize how much souls are lost in this world, how much hopeless dreams have already been broken... And so what is there left to do, after you read this book, but hope there is a Mrs. Gruwell in your town, ready to be the one who will save you? But what if there isn't? What if your left alone to face the world, without love, compasion...

Alejandra M. 8/29/2007 10:34:24 AM
Dear Erin Gruwell, You have been a great inspiration to me and I hope one day you can come visit my school. I'VE SEEN YOUR MOVIE AND AM KNOW READING YOUR BOOK...ITS GREAT!!! Thanks for everything...at least some teachers are true and mean it when they say they care!!! i In both your book and your movie you showed a bit about how life is hard depending what click ur rolling with and race does matter to many people...especially if your Mexican. My school is Sierra High School in Manteca, CA.

Carmen Villegas 8/10/2007 8:36:11 PM
I have 100% respect for this incredible teacher...who believed when no one else believed! As an educator I can only hope I am able to make a difference in my students' lives!

Tiffany 5/25/2007 11:56:20 PM
The movie really touched me. I came from a school where white was the minority. We didn't have "gangs" and mostly everyone was cool with everyone in their own way. The reason it touched me so much is because no one ever really sits down and thinks about what others go through in life. If it doesn't happen to you, or someone your close to then it doesn't matter, but here that's not the case. Mrs. Gruwell took the time to actually listen to what these "trouble" kids had to say. When they thought no one cared about them, what they did and who they were. When she came into their lives they realized that someone did care. Just think about where The Freedom Writers would be today if Mrs.Gruwell never listened or walked out on them like so many others did. They would probably be dead, in jail, or rising their kids to grow up and be in a gang. Now most of them probably have jobs and a family and aren't dead. They can actually tell their children what they went through and better their kid lives because they know now what they didn't know then. Anyone no matter who you are can change someones life just by talking to them and thats what Mrs. Gruwell did.

David Elliot 5/15/2007 8:19:28 PM
I think the moviw was awesome. Eventhough never experienced such tradgedies in my life, i could feel what the students were facing. I think Erin Gruwell was blessed with the gift of depositing good faith into youths lives. What she did was an awesome move. I look foward to purchasing the book as soon as possible.

Deborah 5/14/2007 4:54:57 PM
The story was awesome!

 5/4/2007 9:42:43 AM
You inspired me to write down my feelings when times get tough. This is an amazing book and I recommend it to everyone!!!

Jen 4/29/2007 1:48:30 AM
I saw the movie and I thought that it was the best movie in the world! I nearly cried when I saw the movie but I didn't because I was at my neighbors and her friends were there, but it was the greatest and I couldn't believe that it was a true story... Just listenting to what they go through every day is just WHOA for me... and I'm really looking forward to reading the book to.

Brandon 4/18/2007 12:19:05 PM
I SAW THE MOVIE AND IT WAS AN AMAZING PIECE OF ART TO ME I WISH THE MRS. GRUWELL WAS MY TEACHER BECAUSE SOME OF MY TEACHERS DIDN'T UNDERSTAND WHAT I WAS GOING THRU, SOMETIMES I GET JUDGED BY PEOPLE WHO LOOK AT ME. SOMETIMES I THINK I DON'T EVEN BELONG IN SOME PLACES BUT I AM GLAD THAT I SAW THIS MOVIE I WILL LOVE TO READ THE FREEDOM WRITERS BOOK BECAUSE I WANT TO START MY OWN BOOK ABOUT ME THANKS MRS. GRUWELL

Kelly  4/17/2007 3:28:46 PM
My Husband and I watched the movie. There wasnt a moment we werent both touched by some emotion, from this group of kids and their teacher. What a remarkable event that has taken place in a world so full of exactly what the kids have seen/Lived. And to change their route in lives! Absolutely wonderful! Thank you so much, for allowing your lives so open to touch so many others lives. You are all my Hero's! God bless you all. From a family way over in Maine,USA

quel 4/3/2007 12:54:47 PM
i loved the book and the movie.they were both very inspiring. i loved how the teens took hold of their lives. im almost done with the book. im a college student at yale and i love it.thanx for your recomendtions my hero

Boo 3/29/2007 5:36:22 AM
I saw the movie and I am reading the book now and its really good.

Shanice 3/29/2007 5:34:24 AM
Its a good book I learned alot from the book you should make another one.

Torrey 3/22/2007 8:10:58 AM
I loved the movie and the book it made me understand that I really don't have that bad I am writing a my hero paper on Erin Gruwell because she truly is my hero!!!!!!!!!!

Amanda 2/7/2007 9:40:25 AM
I saw the movie and it was really touching and i just started reading the book and it is really good so far and by watching the movie first you are able to identify the characters diaries.

mike  1/30/2007 7:33:50 PM
great book....... it makes you grateful for what you have in life.............. if you have a bad life or hard times it makes you wanna be like THE FREEDOM WRITERS...............(what they are because of Erin)....... the movie and the book are great they made me appreciate everything i have.......... thanks for printing all the diaries!

Christina 1/18/2007 12:32:52 PM
Okay, for starters, I have read the book and let's just say I nearly cried...It's so inspiring... But, when I saw the movie based on this story.... I literally cried until my eyes were blood shot red... Erin Gruwell is truly an inspirational woman, and I never would have been as brave as this woman if I were in a situation like this one.

Ariana Martinez 1/18/2007 10:20:26 AM
I realy like your story I wish you write more

stephen  1/14/2007 9:40:56 PM
I just want to say this book, this movie was very mind blowing. I was very touched.I think Erin Gruwell is a beautiful person and deserves great accolades for being the dedicated teacher she is, and treating her students as they were her children. I am a senior in high school, class of 2007. This movie inspired me to read more and appreciate what i have in life. I also can relate to them being minorities because im black, but i do not face the same problems they did, i come from a good family that is well off, and i thank god for that...

Cynthia 1/7/2007 10:57:26 AM
I watched this movie just when it came out on January 5th, 2007. I really enjoyed watching the movies. I recommend it to everyone especially to those teens that are in the wrong footsteps. I will hopefully soon purchase the book to learn more about the stories of Erin Gruwell, Anne Frank, and Mrs. Gruwell's students from Wilson High School.

ruben barraza  11/29/2006 10:19:23 AM
can I get a free copy of your book because im making a project about you because i want to a teacher someday The MY HERO Virtual Library does not disribute books. We would suggest contacting Erin Gruwell's Freedom Writers Foundation http://www.freedomwritersfoundation.org/site/c.kqIXL2PFJtH/b.2259975/k.BF19/Home.htm -- The MY HERO Library Staff

christina 11/14/2006 10:02:21 AM
its a good book

shayna 10/9/2004 6:02:57 PM
I had a chance to meet you at my school. The things you talked about awakened me and made me understand that help can come from anyone of any race. thank you.


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