Literally Unbelievable is a wonderful, brilliant, moving, important, heartbreaking, inspiring, and sometimes funny book. I couldn’t put it down.
Bestselling author of Stitches, Grace (Eventually), Plan B, Traveling Mercies, and Operating Instructions
Why are schools failing vulnerable students? To answer this question, we must start by understanding the challenges facing teachers in an underserved community.
In Literally Unbelievable, Bronwyn Harris stretches our imaginations, informs our minds, and widens our hearts with an honest and compassionate account of teaching in Oakland. Harris skillfully weaves in true stories to make this book an unforgettable read for anyone who cares about education and children.
Lecturer and children’s book author
Saint Mary’s College of California
Bronwyn Harris has done a remarkable job capturing the honest stories of her experiences teaching for eight years in one of the most violent and needy neighborhoods of Oakland.
She is descriptive when she could have been castigating. She is even plain at times, letting the tortured facts scream for themselves. She is compassionate while clear thinking. This insider’s look is not voyeuristic, but seeks to be redemptive by telling the truth and letting those of us not inside see and feel and understand so much more than we would otherwise be able to do. The question it begs is: what can and should be done?
—Mark Labberton, Ph.D.
President, Fuller Theological Seminary
This book takes me right back to my days working down the street from Ms. Harris. Her stories of our kids and our classrooms bring back vivid memories of the love, exhaustion, sadness, and so many more emotions that I felt.
This book offers an accessible, sobering introduction to under-resourced public schools for those wishing to learn “what it’s really like”. But it also conveys the profound richness and importance of the students that this system has left behind.
This should be required reading for all prospective teachers, policy makers, and researchers.
—Emily Penner, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Education
Bronwyn is a gifted storyteller who takes us on a journey of real pain, beauty, and hope inside the East Oakland classroom. As she says, education is about more than a curriculum, more then surviving, but rather about creating safe spaces for children to learn, grow and thrive. Together we are called to stir the dreams and hopes of “our kids.”
—Rev. Dr. Mary Glenn
Fuller Youth Institute Faculty
City Net Co-Director
I knew ‘East Oakland Elementary’ was one of the more challenging, under-resourced schools surrounded by a plethora of poverty and violence. I knew there had been a revolving door of principals, but didn’t know that during your eight years of teaching (at EOE) eight principals entered and exited. That in itself is cause for alarm and symptomatic of a broken education system.
I too have seen firsthand the disparities in many of our Oakland schools. But I remind myself and others that if we only wring our hands we can’t use them to reach out. Children are precious, human beings, created in the image of God. Children are our future.
As Harris says, “Our kids. Every one of them is worth fighting for. My greatest hope is that more people will see this and, like I have, will make it their own fight.”
President, Faith Network of the East Bay, Inc.