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Somebody Else's Kids

Somebody Else's Kids

4.8 17
by Torey Hayden

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"Were all just somebody else's kids . . . "

A small seven-year-old boy who couldn't speak except to repeat weather forecasts and other people's words . . . A beautiful little girl of seven who had been brain damaged by terrible parental beatings and was so ashamed because she couldn't learn to read . . . A violently angry ten-year-old who had seen his stepmother


"Were all just somebody else's kids . . . "

A small seven-year-old boy who couldn't speak except to repeat weather forecasts and other people's words . . . A beautiful little girl of seven who had been brain damaged by terrible parental beatings and was so ashamed because she couldn't learn to read . . . A violently angry ten-year-old who had seen his stepmother murder his father and had been sent from one foster home to another . . . A shy twelve-year-old from a Catholic school which put her out when she became pregnant . . .

"What do we matter?"
"Why do you care?"

They were four problem children-put in Torey Hayden's class because no one else knew what to do with them. Together, with the help of a remarkable teacher who cared too much to ever give up, they became almost a family, able to give each other the love and understanding they had found nowhere else.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.88(d)
700L (what's this?)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

It was the class that created itself.

There is some old law of physics that speaks of Nature abhorring a vacuum. Nature must have been at work that fall. There must have been a vacuum we had not noticed because all at once there was a class where no class was ever planned. It did not happen suddenly, as the filling of some vacuums does, but rather slowly, as Nature does all her greatest things.

When the school year began in August I was working as a resource teacher. The slowest children from each of the elementary classes in the school would come to me in ones and twos and threes for half an hour or so a day. My job was to do the best I could to keep them up with the rest of their classes, primarily in reading or math, but sometimes in other areas as well. However, I was without a class of my own.

I had been with the school district for six years. Four of those years had been spent teaching in what educators termed a "self-contained classroom," a class which took place entirely within one room; the children did not interact with other children in the school. I had taught severely emotionally disturbed children during this time. Then had come Public Law 94-142, known as the mainstreaming act. It was designed to normalize special education students by placing them in the least restrictive environment possible and minimizeing itheir deficits with additional instruction, called resource help. There were to be no more closeted classrooms where the exceptional children would be left to sink or swim a safe distance from normal people. No more pigeonholes. No more garbage dumps. That beautiful, idealistic law. And my kids and me, caught inreality.

When the law passed, my self-contained room was closed. My eleven children were absorbed into the mainstream of education, as were forty other severely handicapped children in the district. Only one full-time special education class remained open, the program for the profoundly retarded, children who did not walk or talk or use the toilet. I was sent to work as a resource teacher-in a school across town from where my special education classroom had been. That had been two years before. I suppose I should have seen the vacuum forming. I suppose it should have been no surprise to see it fill.

I was unwrapping my lunch, a Big Mac from McDonald's -- a real treat for me because on my half-hour lunch break I could not get into my car and speed across town in time to get one as I had been able to do at the old school. Bethany, one of the school psychologists, had brought me this one. She understood my Big Mac addiction.

I was just easing the hamburger out of the Styrofoam container, mindful not to let the lettuce avalanche off, which it always did for me, trying for the millionth time to remember that idiotic jingle: Two-all-beef-patties-blah, blah, blah. My mind was not on teaching.


I looked up. Birk Jones, the director of special education in the district, towered over me, an unlit pipe dangling from his lips. I had been so absorbed in the hamburger that I had not even heard him come into the lounge. "Oh, hi, Birk."

"Do you have a moment?"

"Yeah, sure," I said, although in truth I didn't. There were only fifteen minutes left to gobble down the hamburger and french fries, drink the Dr Pepper and still get back to a whole stack of uncorrected work I had left in the classroom. The lettuce slipped off the Big Mac onto my fingers.

Bethany moved her chair over and Birk sat down between us. "I have a little problem I was hoping you might help me out with," he said to me.

"Oh? What kind of problem?"

Birk took the pipe out of his mouth and peered into the bowl of it. "About seven years old." He grinned at me. "Over in Marcy Cowen's kindergarten. A little boy; I think he's autistic, myself. You know. Does all sorts of spinningand twirling. Talks to himself. Stuff like your kids used to do. Marcy's at the end of her rope with him. She had him part of last year too and even with a management aide in the room, he hasn't changed a bit. We have to do something different with him."

I chewed thoughtfully on my hamburger. "And what can I do to help you? 'I

"Well..." A long pause. Birk watched me eat with such intensity that I thought perhaps I ought to offer him some. "Well, I was thinking, Tor...well, perhaps we could bus him over here."

"'What do you mean?"

"And you could have him."

"I could have him?" A french fry caught halfway down my throat. "I'm not equipped in my present situation to handle any autistic kids, Birk."

He wrinkled his nose and leaned close in a confidential manner. "You could do it. Don't you think?" A pause while he waited to see if I would reply or simply choke to death quietly on my french fry. "He only comes half days. Regular kindergarten schedule. And he's rotting in Marcy's class. I was thinking maybe you could work with him special. Like you did with those other kids you used to have."

"But Birk?...I don't have that kind of room anymore. I'm set up to teach academics. What about my resource children?"

Birk shrugged affably. "We'll arrange something."

Somebody Else's Kids. Copyright © by Torey Hayden. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Torey Hayden is an educational psychologist and a former special education teacher who since 1979 has chronicled her struggles in the classroom in a succession of bestselling books. She lives and writes in the U.K.

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Somebody Else's Kids 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
her work is amazing and i like her work alot
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this when I was in high school for my Elementary Teaching Internship class, and I absoultey fell in love with the children and the compassion this teacher had for them. I am going to college to become a teacher and this helped me change my minor into Child Psychology and Special Education. I have read many of her books since then and love everyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is awesome, it is so real. I can relate to this book because i have parents whom work in the education system and they come home and tell us all about there school day. I love this book I recomended it to other children
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great book. After reading this book, I realized how special this woman truly is. Working with troubled children myself, I can relate to a lot of her stories. This is a must read for everyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After reading this book, I've realized how special Torey Hayden his. Her devotion to the kids discussed in this book is phenominal. We need more people like her in our world.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Torey L. Hayden is an amazing author and an even more amazing woman. The love and dedication she shows each of her students in every class she has ever written about is astounding. I am an avid reader of her books, and they are the only books that I have never given up. I read them all at least once a year. I got my first Torey L. Hayden novel when I was 11, and still read them at 21. I am not someone who is involved with children, or teaching, but I believe her books have a lesson for all of us. It's about accepting people who are different, and loving them despite thier problems. I would recomend these books to anyone who believes that a bigger heart can make a difference.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I would recommend this book higly to anyone that deals with children on a daily basis whether they are parents or teachers. Though I do not yet have any children of my own, I do have a younger brother who is autistic. My dream job is that of a special education teacher or pretty much anyone that deals with special needs children of any kind. To meet Torey Hayden would mean a lot to me for she has become my inspiration and reinfored in my mind that working with speacial needs children can be a very rewarding, but sometimes stressful career.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Hayden does a service by providing a voice for kids who have none. A man from Massachusetts named Ken Grant also wrote a book about his experiences good and bad but was driven into homelessness and bankruptcy by hostile forces because of it. Grant was an abandoned abused youngster in state care.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I could not put this book down. It was soo touching. You get drawn into each child's individual story and find yourself rooting for and feeling for each and every one. Torey's endless love and dedication to what is quite obviously more than a job to her is amazing. I have never felt such strong emotions from reading a book before... a lot to think about, a lot to enjoy, a *wonderful* way to escape into another world and forget about your own troubles for a while. Torey, you are truly a gem, do you hear that? You are simply amazing!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I could not put this book down. This was one of the best books I have ever read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm an avid reader. I read anything and everything I can get my hands on, yet I've never been as moved by one author or one story as I have from this book. Torey Hayden's caring and understanding...not to mention patience, is to be admired. To her, every child is beautiful, no matter what they have done or who they are. When everyone else gives up on these children, she shows up to love them. That is what it's all about.
Guest More than 1 year ago
¿Somebody Else¿s Kids¿ by Torey L. Hayden is about a young special education teacher. She made it her responsibility to help four mentally impaired and disturbed children learn to read, write and understand they are different. The book went through many ups and downs. From Torey trying to teach Lori to read, helping Boo to talk and helping Tomaso deal with his anger. She taught them to deal with their disabilities and accept they¿re different. If you have a place in your heart for mentally challenged children this is a wonderful book to read. You will be amazed at the love and heart Torey (the teacher) has for these kids. The time and effort that Torey puts in her work could make anyone appreciate people like her. This is a one time read book I wouldn¿t suggest buying it. I would suggest checking it out at your town library.