Thursday, October 21, 2010

Somebody Else's Kids by Torey Hayden

SOMEBODY ELSE\'S KIDS: THEY WERE PROBLEM CHILDREN NO ONE WANTED! UNTIL ONE TEACHER TOOK THEM TO HER HEART Somebody Else's Kids by Torey Hayden is now officially on my list for being one of the best books I've ever read. I think it hit such a nerve with me because I am a teacher, but I think anyone with a heart will truly  enjoy this book.

I can not begin to summarize this story, so the following is from the inside book jacket.

They were just 'somebody else's kids'-four problem children put in Torey Hayden's class because no one else knew what to do with them: A small seven-year-old boy who couldn't speak except to repeat weather  forecasts and other people's words...A beautiful girl of seven who had brain damage by terrible parental beatings and was so ashamed because she couldn't even learn to read...A violently angery 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 that expelled her when she became pregnant...They all shared one thing in common: a remarkable teacher who would never stop caring and who would share with them the love and understanding they had never  known . 

December will mark my 3rd year as a teacher and I can honestly say that I have had one of each of the kids described above during my short teaching career so far. I can relate to many aspects of Torey's writing including seeing how Educational Laws effect, both positively  and negatively, special education programs. She talks first about how the passage of Public Law 94-142, also known as the mainstreaming act, significantly reduced the number of special  education classrooms available in public schools.  This law essentially put kids with all forms of disabilities in classrooms with their same aged peers. That sounds like a great idea, but it eliminated self contained classrooms for all but the most severely mentally disabled. Students with moderate mental disabilities suffered from this law. It has since been revised and new  classrooms with adapted functional curriculum's have been established.

I connect most with her student named Boo (short for Boothie) who had Autism and is mostly non-verbal except for a severe case of echolalia. Don't be scared to read this book just because it uses terms familiar to only those with experience in special education...Torey does a great job of explaining terms and conditions through out her writing.

Torey also does an amazing job at describing the absolute beauty that her students posses. I can never adequately describe the love I have for my own kids (students), but she has mastered it. Sometimes I look in my students eyes and it makes me cry. I can see through them some how and they seem to be able to see into me and read my thoughts and feelings.  It is magical and beautiful and I don't even know how to describe it unless you have had that experience. I wish you all could have that experience. I have what regular education teachers call "it"- the ability to calm a child down with a look...but I'll tell you my secret. When a child is upset or frustrated I stop talking. I open my eyes and look at them in their  eyes and inside my head I repeat, "I understand. I know. It's OK. ". I swear to God they read this and it calms them.

Torey also is brutally honest about her personal life and how it is effected by her job. Like many dedicated teachers, we know that teaching isn't just  a job, it's a life style.  Unfortunately, her boyfriend was just not able to understand and when he gave her an ultimatum of him or the kids, she chose the kids. Thankfully, my husband is amazing, understanding, supportive, and sensitive to my dedication-and he even helps me make materials for my classroom or get's me hot cocoa when he knows it'll be a late night for me.

Somebody Else's Kids  will make you cry but it will also help lift your spirits. I shared  her anger when she was mad, her joy when their was cause for celebration, and her heartache when things were difficult. I hope that you will enjoy this book as much as I have.

This is my second book review for the Fall Reading challenge hosted by A Southern Daydreamer Reads.

If you would like to win my used $5.98 copy of Somebody Else's Kids for FREE just lave me a comment saying you'd like to read it and I'll draw one person at random on November 1st.

Thanks again for reading, I look forward to hearing from  you.


  1. I totally understand what you are describing when you look into your students eyes...every mother feels it when she gives birth to a new born baby. It's the universal language of the true vibration of our spirits. You students have never lost that ability because they cannot conform to communicate in our "traditional" verbal ways...which ultimately makes us loose our connection to our true source. It's so good that you are able to have that with your students. It's also how we communicate with our spouces...that's why they call it making love ;) It's not just the physcial's begins at our emotional, spritual level. It takes a lot of practice to stay connected and some due it with meditation...when we are not doing it with our children and spouces. You know how your mum can look at you and not have to say another You have the ability to read it in her face, eyes and even now with the distance between you, you can feel it over the phone. Good vibrations ;)

  2. I would absolutely love to read this book. As a fellow teacher, possibly teaching special education one day, I think this book would help inform my view of my students.

  3. It sounds like a great book but I won't ask to have my name drawn mainly because some days I can't take anymore sadness. Not sadness in my life, thankfully, but sadness with our youth. You do an excellent review.

  4. Another reason you and Carl are a good match, you are both focused and dedicated to your work and share that with each other. Good review!

  5. Would love to read this!!! Loving the book recommendations lately! :)

  6. Just wanted to say, "thanks." Good teachers are harder and harder to come by.

  7. Sounds like a very touching book. I applaud you for being a teacher. I know you'll come in contact with children of all backgrounds and stories. My daughter is in college to become a teacher and I pray for her heart - it is a wonderful and daunting task. Thank you for stopping by, we're having a bit of cloudy weather today - our bright October days have been a joy of late!
    Hope you have a wonderful weekend,


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