Thursday, April 16, 2009

Blatant Self-Promotion

A letter to your editor from a teacher in California.

Thanks for sending me Todd Strasser's new book. I stayed up into the late hours reading it; it is so compelling. Of course, as a teacher, I do believe that education is the way out of poverty and the gangbanger life. However, this book demonstrates the Herculean tasks of these inner city kids even getting to school and then trying to get a real education once they get to school. This inner city life is so chilling and painful. I had to keep reminding myself that this is America a couple of miles, in some cases blocks, from what most Americans consider "normal" life.

Every year I have students who want to read about gangs, and this book will surely go over well with them, but it is going to be a book all of my students are going to want to read. I hope that many, many teens read it and remember it so that this next generation will not turn their back on and ignore inner city people. The book really puts a human face on poverty. Every year I teach Dicken's A CHRISTMAS CAROL and refer back all year to the theme of ignorance. I repeat myself over and over again that problems cannot be solved if we don't know about the problem.

I am in awe of how Todd Strasser is able to write such passionate books about the most intense issues and put human faces on them and yet finds a way to bring in a little hope. He exposes this issues in a way that teens (and everyone) can relate to and yet I could teach his books in an eighth grade class because he doesn't use profanity or explicit sex or violence and yet the books feel real.

You can see how powerfully this book affected me. Thanks for sending it. I start back teaching next week and will send you student reviews of this book.

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