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Among Schoolchildren

Among Schoolchildren

4.1 12
by Tracy Kidder

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Tracy Kidder — the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Soul of a New Machine and the extraordinary national bestseller House — spent nine months in Mrs. Zajac's fifth-grade classroom in the depressed "Flats" of Holyoke, Massachusetts. For an entire year he lived among twenty schoolchildren and their indomitable, compassionate teacher —


Tracy Kidder — the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Soul of a New Machine and the extraordinary national bestseller House — spent nine months in Mrs. Zajac's fifth-grade classroom in the depressed "Flats" of Holyoke, Massachusetts. For an entire year he lived among twenty schoolchildren and their indomitable, compassionate teacher — sharings their joys, their catastrophes, and their small but essential triumphs. As a result, he has written a revealing, remarkably poignant account of education in America . . . and his most memorable, emotionally charged, and important book to date.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Christine Zajac teaches fifth grade in a racially mixed school in a poor district of Holyoke, Mass. About half of her students are Hispanic; many come from broken homes. Through Kidder's calmly detailed re-creation of Zajac's daily round, we come to know her students' fears and inmost strivings; we also share this teacher's frustrations, loneliness and the rush of satisfaction that comes with helping students learn. It's a tough job: in one social studies class, half the pupils can't name the country they live in. Kidder ( House ; The Soul of a New Machine ) writes with sensitivity of Zajac's Irish-Catholic roots, of the need for educational reform and of the Holyoke Puerto Ricans' struggles for equality and success. We see Kelly School as a compelling microcosm of what is wrong--and right--with our educational system. Author tour. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Many readers have come to expect that anything authored by Kidder ( House, LJ 8/85; Soul of a New Machine, LJ 8/81) will be of high merit. This latest nonfiction work is no exception. It tells in detail the story of a young teacher's daily life and work in the Kelly School, a part of the Holyoke, Massachusetts school system. From September to June, Chris Zajac, a caring, dedicated teacher struggles with the nearly superhuman task of teaching inner-city children, many from impoverished and broken homes. Her pupils are often ill-fed, victims of severe neglect, or worse. Readers will become engrossed in her daily battle to teach these youngsters. (Over half stay up until 12:30 a.m. to watch TV). She agonizes over her pupils, one Clarence in particular. Kidder allows the reader to savor the small daily victories and taste the angst of failure. A warm, honest, refreshingly positive look inside a classroom. Essential for most libraries.-- Annette V. Janes, Hamilton P.L., Mass.
Another good Kidder book. This dealing with the day-to-day activity of teaching (and maintaining a climate in which learning is feasible). Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
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5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.79(d)

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Among Schoolchildren 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! In fact, I often reread my favorite parts when I need a boost or a reminder that what I do in my job as an elementary principal in an urban district really DOES make a difference. My favorite quote: 'Good teachers put snags in the river of children passing by, and over the years, they redirect hundreds of lives. Many people find it easy to imagine unseen webs of malevolent conspiracy in the world, and they are not always wrong. But there is an innocence that conspires to hold humanity together, and it is made of people who can never fully know the good that they have done.' I initially read this book for a graduate class. We were asked to pick an ethnographic study to read and give a report. I chose this book not knowing that it would prove to be one of the most impactful and insightful books I have ever read! Tracy Kidder does an impressive job of getting into the heart and mind of a teacher in Massachusetts. As he studies and describes a year in her classroom, I found myself reflecting on things that I felt and worried about as a teacher. I have bought numerous copies of this book as gifts for fellow educators. It is certainly one of my favorites!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bailey_Lammon More than 1 year ago
I read this book for my English class. I didn't like it. There wasn't any plot or reason the author wrote the book. It follows Mrs. Zajac, a 5th grade teacher, around for one school year in Holyoke, MA. If I had to guess, then the major message would probably be, "It's tough to be a teacher," but that's very broad, every book about a teacher most likely has the same message. I don't think anyone should read this, all it talks about is the kids and a few things she has to do, and what she does at home, and grading. The only thing I really liked about this book was how descriptive the author was. He explained everything, like what the child looks like, where they lived, how the child acted, and what kind of student they were. It was boring but the author did a good job with that. I didn't like how the author would write about how she graded. There was no point. Tracy Kidder (the author) would point out that sometimes when Mrs. Zajac graded, her daughter would get out of bed and interrupt grading because she wanted a glass of water or something. I didn't like that the writer wrote about her classes and that Mrs. Zajac did like one of the classes so she would spend extra time in a different one. *Spoiler* the book is about Mrs. Zajac, shes been a teacher for a while, she taught fifth grade in Holyoke, MA. She has a few disruptive students and a few students she really liked. That was pretty much the whole book. Nothing happened, no climax, no excitement. Among Schoolchildren should get a 2/5 on the rating scale. Not a 1 because the book had detail and was easy to read, but not 5 because it was so boring, there was no fun, and I wouldn't read it again. Honestly, I couldn't care less about this book. It sound really harsh but this is just not a good book. Unless you have to, don't buy this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book!! The heart wrenching, comical and entertaining novel written by Tracey Kidder was definitely a wonderful read! The journey through the 5th grade class that was most remembered and the students that caused all the trouble make a wonderful book. Watching all the kids grow and become attached to Mrs. Zajac as Mrs. Zajac gets attached to a couple also. The book shows the love she has for some of her students and how she handles situations to over come the controversies in the book. From the beginning of the book, I was hooked. Tracey uses good word choice and is descriptive. It feels like you're sitting in with the class while reading the book. The message was something I personally think is very true. Mrs. Zajac sees that there is good in everyone whether it's deep down or on the outside and that everyone deserves love. If you're interested in becoming a teacher, a cute read, or like good messages within books, this is the book for you! The only dislike I had about this book was Tracy went on little history rants about the towns in the books, or Mrs. Zajac's family history. Overall, this was a fantastic grabbing novel!
Made-Cookies More than 1 year ago
Among Schoolchildren was on a list I was given for school where we had to read one of the books off of the list. To be perfectly honest the only reason I chose to read this book is because the other listed books seemed absolutely dreadful. Among Schoolchildren is a story of a teacher, Mrs. Zajac, at a school in a small town where Puerto Ricans are the majority. This book gives great insight into the mind of a teacher and the interactions with her students. This was one of the most well written stories I have ever read. I found myself enjoying the parts written around the students more, mainly because it seemed like a re-creation of my fifth grade class. What really set the book over the edge was Mrs. Zajac, she was really the nicest teacher I have encountered to this date. I am glad I chose this book to read, it was well worth it and I would definitely read it again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A major theme in "Among Schoolchildren" is equality. The white people in Holyoke, MA did not think much of the Puerto Ricans in their town but, Mrs. Zajac, a 5th grade teacher believes that all of the children in her class, regardless of race, deserve to learn what she has to teach. Some children refuse to learn, especially a young boy named Clarence. There is tension between Mrs. Zajac and Clarence for a portion of the year until Mrs. Zajac loses Clarence to another class, making her actually miss him. I really liked the relationship that Mrs. Zajac had with the children in her class and I liked how she stood her ground when things got out of hand in the classroom; Mrs. Zajac had complete control. One thing that I didn't like was that the book was very slow. It took a while to get the point across. "Among Schoolchildren" is a good read for high school students because it can easily be used for analysis. I recommend this book to others as well because overall, it was a good book. It also has deeper meaning hidden in the pages that people can relate to.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this book by Kidder to be a great read. It provides a real inside look at the challenges that many teachers face routinely on a constant never ending basis. There are ideas and concerns from the teachers point of view as well as the students perspective. The examples are often of comical connotation and just the sort of thing you would expect from a 5th grader. The author never reveals himself within the text however paints a very clear picture of life in school in Holyoke, Ma. where diversity, conflict and celebration occur amongst all. The book also gives a very clear picture of how much work the teacher gives to her students outside of class and stresses why education is so important to teacher our young. A great read for anyone considering a profession in teaching.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was reccommened to me for a school read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Possibly one of the best books I have read this school year. However, I did find the parts without Clarence and Robert acting up a bit boring, they were the bggest part of the entertainment for me.