Rise Up! Life and Literacy in an Urban First Grade

Welcome to Room 18 and visit first grade in a school whose apt motto is Rise Up! Follow a new literacy volunteer as she learns from inner-city first graders about their joys and worries, their humor and insights, and comes to some compelling conclusions. Discover the joys and sorrows of an excellent inner-city elementary classroom and some inescapable conclusions.


Rise Up! book coverLinda’s book, Rise Up! Life and Literacy in an Urban First Grade, is a generous, thoughtful chronicle of elementary school education. Her enthusiasm for these first-graders in Room 18 of Seattle’s Hawthorne Elementary School, is infectious; and her relationship with the children, individually and as a group, is heartwarming and often humorous.

Reading this book, we follow her, a new literacy volunteer, as she learns from inner-city six and seven year olds in the city’s most ethnically diverse zip code about their joys and worries, their humor and insights. The children, many of them poor, many of them new immigrants, are bright and endearing. Hawthorne Elementary, the recipient of special funding and projects due to its prior low test scores, shows the dramatic measurable progress that helps launch children into school success. The children’s confidences, essays, and poetry sparkle with humor and the unexpected viewpoints of childhood.

Along with the pleasurable company of small children, the author observes the creative teaching techniques of modern education, a startling contrast with those of her own Dick and Jane elementary school years.

The book concludes with some startling school district data and three common-sense recommendations for our public elementary schools to give all kids a fair chance. This book could not be more timely.

“Ms. Katz has captured in amusing and loving detail the lives and growth of firstgrade children as they learn to read, write, and get along in the world. I laughed out loud at her account of the literal interpretations that the children often make, and I felt dismayed at the unfairness that so many of them face at such tender ages.”

—Debbie Staub, Ph.D., Educational consultant and author

“This book brings elementary school alive like no other book I have read about teaching. Katz shows the power of great teaching, the importance of social and emotional learning, and the great diversity found in classrooms throughout our city. All teachers should read this book.”

—Lyon Terry, 4th grade teacher, Washington State Teacher of the Year, 2015

“An excellent snapshot of the inner-city school from a common sense perspective. I student-taught first grade—a way tougher job than being state superintendent.
A fun, quick read!”

—Randy Dorn, Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction

“WOW! What great young poets!”

—Tod Marshall, Washington State Poet Laureate 2016–2018