‘The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them’
Published in 1999, this book is a collection of writings by the students of Erin Gruwell, a then 23-year-old new teacher at Long Beach High School in Long Beach, California, who was assigned a class of so-called “unteachable” students who were trapped by gang violence and racial tension. To reach them, she assigned literature they could relate to, brought in speakers who could engage them, and gave each of them a blank composition notebook where they could share, anonymously, their thoughts and experiences. Despite the odds against them, all 150 of her students graduated from high school, and some went onto college and established rewarding careers. The book also spawned a 2007 movie, Freedom Writers, starring Hilary Swank.