Friday, November 25, 2005

The Tiger's Child by Torey Hayden

When I was in high school, I worked for several years in the Social Science/Science and Technology department of a large public library. That was when I first became fascinated with educational theory and I read everything I could get my hands on about free schools, democratic schooling, unschooling, homeschooling, etc. I also stumbled on a book called "One Child", by Torey L. Hayden. It's been quite a few years since then but I still remember how riveting this tale was. Hayden spent time during the 70s working as a special education teacher for highly disturbed children, and "One Child" was the story of a particular six-year-old girl, Sheila, who came to Hayden's classroom as a stopgap while they waited to institutionalize her. Hayden managed to break through this girl's reserve and with incredible patience, determination and love, drew out the intelligent child within. Sheila had experienced shocking abuse and neglect as a child, but the book ended on a positive note with Sheila being put into a mainstream classroom and appearing to be headed toward a far more normal childhood than she would have had if she'd been put into an institution.

"The Tiger's Child" is a sequel to "One Child" and tells about Hayden's reacquaintance with Sheila during her teens. Given her troubled childhood, it's not surprising to find that Sheila is not exactly having a normal teenage life. Once again Hayden's persistent efforts to connect with Sheila pay off and the two become close over the several years that are covered in this book. It's interesting reading, though maybe not quite as gripping as "One Child" and some of Hayden's other books.

By the way, I found out this week that Torey Hayden has a pretty good author website.

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