I write books to change the world. Perhaps I can only change one little piece of that world. But if I can empower teachers and good citizens to give these children, who are the poorest of the poor, the same opportunity we give our own kids, then I'll feel my life has been worth it.
We continue, however, to write about important people, prize-winning people, blacks of grandeur, women of great fire, fame or wit. We do not write about ordinary people.
At that time, I had recently finished a book called Amazing Grace, which many people tell me is a very painful book to read. Well, if it was painful to read, it was also painful to write. I had pains in my chest for two years while I was writing that book.
Now, I don't expect what I write to change things. I think I write now simply as a witness. This is how it is. This is what we have done. This is what we have permitted.
In the book, I write about children in first grade who were taught to read by reading want ads. They learned to write by writing job applications. Imagine what would happen if anyone tried to do that to children in a predominantly white suburban school.
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