Friday, January 30, 2009

Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman

 Summary: Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman is about a girl named Grace who absolutely LOVES stories. Her favorite thing to do is to act out any story that she comes across. She's been Joan of Arc, Hiawatha, a pirate, and Mowgli to name a few. One day her teacher informs her class that they will be performing a play about Peter Pan. Grace was so excited! She wants to be Peter Pan! However, some of her peers tell her that she can't be Peter because she doesn't look like Peter. But, she didn't look like Mowgli, Hiawatha, or Joan of Arc either. How can her classmates say this to her? How does this make Grace feel? Does she get to play Peter? Distraught by her classmates reactions, Grace returns home and tells her mother and grandmother about what happened. With a little encouragement from her family and inspiration from an actress who plays characters that don't "look like her", Grace overcomes the doubts of her peers and fulfills her desire to play Peter.

How I would use this in a classroom: I would most definitely use this book to encourage students to follow their dreams, regardless of what people tell them. I also found this great lesson plan on that encourages students to think critically and grapple with ideas in the book. This lesson can be found here:

I found another lesson plan that focuses more on the family encouragement that happens in the book. This is great for younger students to make text to self connections between the characters in the book and their lives. This lesson also looks into philanthropy and how Grace, in some senses of the word, is a philanthropist by giving her talents for the common good. This lesson is found at

Domains of Social Justice:
2. Respect for Others: Strengthens intercultural competence. Students gain insight into how our words about the way someone looks or where they come from can impact another person. Grace is told by her classmates that she can not be Peter because she is black and she is a girl. However, by the end of the story, they see that Grace is an amazing actress and plays Peter wonderfully. This shows students that we are all capable of doing amazing things regardless of gender, race, culture, etc. 

3. Exploring Issues of Social Justice: Racism, classism, sexism, homophobia and other forms of oppression are confronted. As mentioned above, Grace is told she can not do soemthing because she is black and she is a girl. This opens itself up to a wider discussion on what those kind of comments mean. It's also demonstrates how people can be unintentionally racist or sexist when they discourage someone from doing something based on race or gender.


  1. Thanks for highlighting resources from ReadWriteThink. We are very proud of what we have to offer on the site! If you are interested, we pay educators in the field to publish lesson plans and share teaching ideas. Let me know if you would like more information.

  2. I know that I definitely ADORE Grace! And you wrote an excellent book summary, organized your reflection well and clearly, in addition to describing how this book can be used in the SJ domains. You also included useful sites which is really helpful (I love ReadWriteThink!).

    Overall: A :)

    I just want to point out one subtle problem with this book. If you flip through the illustrations, there is one in particular when Grace is dressed as a stereotypical American Indian. The storyline of this book is phenomenal, but this one illustration is DEFINITELY something to discuss with students!

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