"Swope's marvelous, moving book revives the teaching memoir . . . And takes it to new realms of tenderness, insight and humanity." -Phillip Lopate
In 1995, writer Sam Swope gave a workshop to a third-grade class in a Queens school bursting at the seams with kids from around the world. So enchanted was he with his twenty-eight students that he "adopted" the class for three years, teaching them to write stories and poems. I Am a Pencil is the story of his years with this very special group of students. It is as funny, warm, heartbreaking, and hopeful as the children themselves.
Swope follows his colorful troop of resilient writers from grades three to five, coaxing out their stories, watching talents blossom, explode, and sometimes fizzle. We meet Cindy (whose mom was a Taoist priestess), Brian (who cannot seem to tell the truth), and Lourdes (a wacky Dominican chatterbox). Preparing his students for a world of adult dangers, Swope is astonished by their courage, their humanity, and most of all, their strength. I Am a Pencil is a book about the power and magic of imagination, providing a unique window on the immigrant experience as seen through the lives of children.