Child Called "It": One Child's Courage to Survive, A

Dave Pelzer
This book chronicles the unforgettable account of one of the most severe child abuse cases in California history. It is the story of Dave Pelzer, who was brutally beaten and starved by his emotionally unstable, alcoholic mother: a mother who played tortuous, unpredictable games--games that left him nearly dead. He had to learn how to play his mother's games in order to survive because she no longer considered him a son, but a slave; and no longer a boy, but an "it." Dave's bed was an old army cot in the basement, and his clothes were torn and raunchy. When his mother allowed him the luxury of food, it was nothing more than spoiled scraps that even the dogs refused to eat. The outside world knew nothing of his living nightmare. He had nothing or no one to turn to, but his dreams kept him alive--dreams of someone taking care of him, loving him and calling him their son.


Reviewed: 2017-02-08
Reviewed: 2016-10-17
"A Child Called It" gives the students the opportunity to read a memoir of a man's reflection upon his past as child, a time when he was severely abused and neglected by his mother. This hard-hitting read is much different than what students are used to reading, which I believe makes this story even more important. Students need to be aware of stories like Pelzer's. Instead of watching it on the news or reading it in the newspaper, here's a personal account of abuse that students can read and gain the knowledge about child abuse and raise awareness for it. I would teach this book within a Survival unit and discuss how Pelzer lived his daily life with the conditions that he had and the torment he ensued and focus on Pelzer's courage and inner strength. I would begin a class discussion on the introduction to the word survival and ask the students to create their own definitions of the word and share with their peers. Next, I would ask them to share what they consider to be inner strength. I will then instruct students to do a character study on Pelzer himself as well as Pelzer's mother and father. Throughout reading the story, students will conduct these character studies. I will also split the class in small groups and they will discuss what they found and compare information to them.
Reviewed: 2016-09-19
A very moving story about child abuse and the very real problems of how people do not see the warning signs. This book is very sad so if you are looking for a happy, feel-good book, don't read this one. Personally, I would not want to teach this book in a classroom. Part of the reason is overall moral and sensitivity to the many levels of maturity in readers, especially since this would probably be a middle school read, or possibly 9th grade. The other part of why I do not want to teach this is the surrounding controversy that sadly takes away from the issue at hand. Whether or not he did elaborate or falsify, this book brings to light a very serious issue that we as educators and humans have to come to terms with and then defeat. If I had to teach this book, I would want to pair it with They Cage the Animals at Night by Jennings Michael Birch, which I read in 7th grade and has the same age range characters wise and reader wise. It would pair nicely because it is about child abuse as well except in the foster care system.
Reviewed: 2016-09-19
"A Child Called It" by David Pelzer is an auto biography in which he describes the horrific accounts of abuse from his mother during his childhood. Although the accounts are disturbing, there are many elements throughout the novel that play on important themes, symbols, and morals. By reading this book, I have learned that everything is not always what it seems. Although you may think you know someone, you never know what could be happening behind closed doors. As a future teacher, this book left a striking impact on me as I will now always look at every student more closely and to be more aware as to the horrors that could be occurring outside of the walls of the classroom. The way that I would teach this book is to introduce to students to abuse by having them learn the importance and seriousness that it entails as well as introducing themes of courage, strength, and heartache. One of the most important points that I would want to teach from this book is to have students look at each event throughout the story and to recognize the struggles and impact that David was faced with and how they shaped him as a person altogether.
Reviewed: 2016-07-05
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