Blog Tour: Educating Esme

Monday, September 07, 2009 Posted by Dina N

This September marks the 10th anniversary from the initial publishing date of Educating Esme by Esme Raji Codell. Educating Esme is a candid and irreverent diary of a new teacher's first year on the job, teaching at a Chicago public school. A new, expanded edition hit the stores on September 1. I enjoyed reading Educating Esme, and am pleased to celebrate its new edition by participating in the Educating Esme blog tour.

Author Bio
Author Esme Codell is a nationally renowned advocate for literacy and literature-based instruction. She is dubbed “one of the nation’s most sought-after voices for empowering teachers” (People) and a “Superstar of Education” (Scholastic Instructor). Her diary, "Educating Esme", was first published in 1999. Over 200,000 copies later, the irreverent and ground-breaking book has been hailed as “the gold standard” of the first-person account (The New York Times) and declared a “pop culture phenomenon” (Publishers Weekly).

Q&A with Esme Codell
Q- "Educating Esmé", your diary of your first year of teaching in a Chicago public school, has been called the “gold standard” for the “foxhole memoir” by the New York Times and has sold over 200,000 copies. With this recent reissue of the book, what’s new?

Esme- The diary itself is exactly the same, but there’s a new foreword by Katherine Paterson, author of "Bridge to Teribithia", and a meaty guide that’s been added called “Hit the Ground Running,” which I created to help new teachers do just that. The most common question I’m asked is, “Do you have any advice for new teachers?” Now readers will find over twenty-five really specific and hopefully pragmatic pieces of advice and also a comprehensive shopping list for the first-year teacher.

Q-You ultimately chose to work in the school library instead of the classroom. Why?

Esme- Because the school librarian has the best job in the building, that’s why! You see all of the children in the school, and you certainly can forge at least as many meaningful connections as you would as a classroom teacher. You work with children’s books all day, immersing yourself in the best practice of read-aloud and helping to instill a lifelong love of reading in kids. You work with cutting-edge technology (if your building is lucky enough to have computers) and still kick it old-school. Best of all, you don’t have to be caught up in the same sort of perfunctory standardized assessments that bludgeon the joys of learning to death. For me, the library was an autonomous, creative place, a place that best reflected what I had to share, a place where I could do my best teaching. I never felt like less of a teacher in the school library; I felt more like the teacher I wanted to be.

Q- "Educating Esmé" is widely used both in university programs and also for pleasure reading. To what do you attribute the book’s continuing success?

Esme- I think readers appreciate that it’s an authentic diary. For some people it’s eye opening; for others it’s all too familiar. People can come at it from wherever they are, whether they are teachers or teachers-to-be or maybe were students once upon a time. Since it’s from my limited point of view, it’s fun to consider, “Would I have made the same choices or mistakes?” “Would I have done things differently, or better, or the same?” “Would I have fired her, or quit?” The reason I published my diary was to create a dialogue around teaching in urban schools—what works, what doesn’t, and what it looks like from a teacher’s perspective. And that conversation is still relevant.


  1. Carmen7351 said...

    What a unique way to look at a librarian. Now that I think about it, I really liked the librarian in our high school. Always felt welcomed and was greeted genuinely.
    Your book sound great.

  2. JamericanSpice said...

    I'm so glad I got to be apart of this too. Esmie inspires me!

  3. carolsnotebook said...

    What a great way of looking at being the school librarian.

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