By Jared Diamond, author of The Third Chimpanzee for Young People: On the Evolution And Future of the Human Animal (Seven Stories, April 2014).The Third Chimpanzee For Young People

One day, when my twin sons were in middle school, they came home from school angry with me.  I wasn’t aware of having done anything particular that day to arouse their wrath, and so I asked them what was the matter.  They replied, “Our history teacher has assigned your book to our class to read.  We haven’t looked at it yet, but we already know that it’s a bad book.  Worst of all, our teacher is inviting you to come to school to talk to our class.  We are going to be so embarrassed in front of our friends!”

I duly arrived at my sons’ class, to find my sons sitting in the last row, with faces averted, huddled in uncomfortable postures, and obviously in agony from embarrassment.  As I began to talk about my book, their classmates started asking questions and expressing increasingly lively interest.  My sons gradually rotated to face forward, relaxed from their cramped posture, and began smiling.  They were delighted that their classmates liked my book, and that they didn’t have to be ashamed of me.  Since then, my sons have been among my strongest supporters, quick to denounce any criticism of my books.  (more…)

978-0-307-95667-5By Debbie Stier, author of The Perfect Score Project (Harmony, February 2014).

My project started as an attempt to motivate my son to care about the SATs. We needed a plan for college: how to get in and how to pay. I started researching the SAT, looking for hope, and it was during that search that I found an article about SAT scores leading to merit aid, which seemed promising.

I started with the SAT Question of the Day and immediately got hooked. They were like puzzles, and in a moment of enthusiasm, I declared I was going to try to achieve a perfect SAT score! I never expected my son to get a perfect score; he came up with his own goal, which we agreed on.

The project grew into a book idea—a “Consumer Reports” for the SAT. And so, in 2011, I took the test every time it was offered (seven times total) at five different test centers. (more…)

Thank you to all the dedicated high school teachers who entered to win a class set of books from the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Through their entries, our winners demonstrated a love of teaching and thoughtful ideas for how these new books will be incorporated into their curriculum. It is with great excitement that we announce this year’s winners, along with the books they have selected! Here is the full list of winners. (more…)

sticks and stonesBy Emily Bazelon, author of Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy (Random House Trade Paperbacks, February 2014).

In the year since my book about preventing bullying and building empathy, Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy was published, I’ve traveled around the country talking to students, parents, and educators. I hear over and over again about a hunger: For complex conversations, with and among teenagers, about their social experiences. Parents and educators know this is important, but that doesn’t make it easy to know how to start. And so I find that when I ask a roomful of kids how many of them are sick of hearing “Don’t bully,” they almost all raise their hands. But if I ask if they get the chance, in class or other organized settings, to have deep discussions about online cruelty, or slut shaming, or upstanding, few if any hands go up. (more…)

9780440246312This past fall Mike Filce, an English teacher at South Tahoe High School in California and longtime Lee Childs fan, discovered that adding a couple of his own Jack Reacher novels to his classroom library shelf was just the trick to get his reluctant readers to pick up a book, particularly a group of his junior boys. Check out the note Mr. Filce recently sent us:

I am a 20+ year veteran English teacher, and incidentally a long-time Lee Child fan. If you teach middle or high school, you know well the great challenge of engaging boys in reading, especially those “reluctant readers,” as it takes special authors and special stories to do so. Our English courses require reading and reporting by page goals, and when I introduced a couple Reacher books to my shelves that I had finished reading myself, in a short time they got snatched up and read voraciously. While at first I was surprised because I hadn’t expected these relatively longer books to be a hit, my male students responded to the fast-moving, highly engaging Reacher stories in the same way I do. (more…)

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Ward Melville High School Teacher, Dr. Elizabeth Kelso, first-place recipient of the 2013 Penguin Random House Teacher Awards for Literacy, has penned a holiday letter to Academic Marketing Director Michael Gentile to express her gratitude for Penguin Random House’s support of educational innovation:

Dear Michael,

Being recognized by Random House was amazing.  Seeing the room where I would speak had a similar effect.  Thank you for grounding me and getting me to feel my message more than the space.

I am grateful to you and your team for creating an award program that supports educational invention.  At this time it feels like education and schools are moving away from creative experiments that draw people together in the most basic and human ways.  Recognizing The Living Book Project reiterates the importance of people coming together around story, experience and dialogue.

I am excited that our paths will continue to meet through this work.

Happy holidays.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth Kelso (Liz)

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Click here to view pictures from the 2013 NCTE Conference First-Timers Breakfast, where Dr. Kelso was presented the award.

Click here to apply for the 2014 Penguin Random House Teacher Award for Literacy.

For All of Us, One Today by Richard Blanco

Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco’s new book For All of Us, One Today  (Beacon Press, November 2013) just released and we are giving away 50 advanced reader copies! To win, be one of the first 50 people to send an email to Rhacademic@randomhouse.com with the subject line “Blanco.”

Please see below for terms and conditions.

(more…)

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