Blog Your Blessings: S.E. Hinton

The story: A young African American girl in a hick town in Western Oklahoma in the 1960s barely escapes three white men who taunt her by blocking her only exit from a drugstore where she has just bought a package of cigarettes. The scene is familiar to the drugstore owner, who knows this gang of white men and bails out the back of the store, leaving this girl on her own. Outside the store, another young white guy gets her to climb into his car, and he takes her back to her black neighborhood in this segregated, bigoted world. This young man does her no harm but tries to soothe her.

Still, when she gets home and a black man outside the car asks her what she wants him and the other black men to do to him, she replies, "Kill the white bastard."

Why did she say this about the guy who just helped her out? I asked my class of seventh graders.

"I don't know, but that would be the last time I'd do anything nice!" one kid--a boy--piped up.

Write it down. Write down why you think she said that about the kid who tried to be nice.

"I don't know, miss. I don't know. I need help." That request came from an African American girl who hadn't paid much attention to S.E. Hinton's That Was Then, This is Now until we got to this part of chapter 2.

My bet was she did know. My bet was that she needed permission to say it.

One-on-one: How would you feel about the next white guy who came along after you got bullied--and could have been attacked--but a bunch of white thugs?

"I would hate him."

They'd all look alike because you'd still be pretty upset, right? Do you think that was the first time she was hassled like that?

"But he tried to help," she said.

Cool. You see it from both sides.

I won the bet.

That was last week. This week, all that child wanted to do was read out loud. And she did--for page. Right after she asked if she could sit in the front of the room. Thank you, S.E. Hinton.


  1. What a powerful story. Another awakening. You are such a force.

  2. Sandy: That was a really tough story to share with the youngsters, it was confusing to me.

  3. how wonderful to capture their attention and show them reading is important to thinking. you are creating little miracles in the classroom by opening up a new world to your students.

  4. I don't know which is more moving -- the story in the book or the story in the classroom. As a former teacher I thank you for the marvelous job you are doing.

  5. That is incredible! I am so happy it changed that child's whole attitude.

  6. No. Thank you Ms Carlson.

    I wish there were many many more like you Sandy and my own Ms Josephsberg

  7. If I did a list of best books and authors from my youth, S.E. Hinton is tops!

    Great insight.

  8. Another powerful and moving post, Sandy, and it does speak to me not only as a former teacher, but as a white woman who married a black man in Texas in the 1960s. In spite of being born and raised in Texas, I had never seen "color", people were people to me then as now. You are a blessing to your classroom, your school, your world. Thank you.


  9. Sorry, meant to say you are a blessing to all of our worlds!


  10. It's wonderful that you allow your students to express how they really feel.

    Boy Meets Girl in 55

  11. Sandy, when I identify my longing as the thirst to work
    1 / 1
    with people and help them (being enriched myself is so many ways)
    It is these posts of yours that make me long the loudest...

    Fond Aloha, Friend!

    Comfort Spiral

  12. Oh Sandy we do live in a changing world.
    Thanks for your message, our family is ok, locals would have got the reference, our beach took the life of a young family this week so in respect, no white sands from me this week.

  13. Ka ching!

    You can't buy moments like this. No matter how much money you spend.

    Beautiful Sandy.

  14. Wonderful when they make a connection. You done good!

  15. This great post really is worth reading, Sandy.

  16. Isn't it amazing when kids connect to what they are reading on such a personal level? So powerful and so wonderfully written Sandy! BTW- I LOVE S.E. Hinton and especially that book. I used to teach it and maybe I may go back to it- I miss Mark, Cathy, and M and M!

  17. It good that she saw this while she is still young --- there are always two sides to every coin, and the truth lies in the middle.

    This was a wonderful read Sandy, a jump start for next month. Thank you.

  18. I think you have reached that girl. Touching story and reaction to your question "Why?".


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