The Children Are Tender is the fictionalized story of a first year teacher in the 1970s. Author Linda A. Born freely admits Lydia and her students are a compilation of her own teaching days. Sometimes it is just easier to create a work of fiction. compressing years of experiences and people into one shorter timeframe, than try to strictly adhere to an accurate timeline and cast. My mother and my aunt were both teachers, starting out in one room schools, and then later teaching in small town school districts. Myself, I recently retired after working 25 years in education, so I've had many, many teacher friends over the years. It was a frequent thought among some of those teachers that they had enough "stories' to write a good book someday. Linda Born must have felt the same way.
Perhaps the most profound statement in the book is the character Ruth's observation, Emotional injury changes the direction of growth in the same way pressure placed on a slender tree trunk will cause it to grow crooked. Yes, children heal, but heal misshapen. There is a terrible need for children to be protected so they can grow straight."
Anyone who has spent time in an elementary school (as an adult) will be familiar with this book's ebb and flow: field trips, holiday programs, struggling students, late nights correcting papers, financial woes, testing dilemmas, and the small victories that come wrapped in sticky hugs and toothless smiles. I admire Linda Born for actually writing the book that so many of us just twirl around in our minds without ever picking up a pen. In the end, I wish she had written a memoir of her career. Within that framework, I would have been more than willing to hear her views on testing, special education, and current trends in education. To me, when she tried to weave these concerns into her story, some parts seemed to not fit the educational world of the 1970s, at least not as I experienced it. In the end, I enjoyed the little anecdotes about the children and her farm, but felt the book lacked action and depth that good fiction needs. I thank the publishers and author for an opportunity to read this title.
I received a copy of this book from Ambassador Intl for review purposes. All opinions are mine.