June 2010


The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

by Amy Jurskis, Tri-cities High School, East Point, Georgia

Like many teachers, I grew up reading, and to this day I attribute most of my knowledge to stories I read in books. Perhaps more than any other pedagogical tool, narratives allow students to connect to, organize, and make sense of information—which is why I was thrilled to tune into Fresh Air on NPR one afternoon and discover Rebecca Skloot’s amazing book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Skloot’s book is essentially three narratives, each with unique applications to the disciplines of language arts, history, and science. First there is the story of the author’s own odyssey—sparked by a casual comment made by a biology instructor—to discover the woman behind the HeLa cells. Skloot’s story is both a riveting work of investigative journalism and a deeply moving memoir, as her search for answers ultimately results in the development of a life-changing friendship with Henrietta’s daughter Deborah. (more…)

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Making Music Videos by Lara M. Schwartz

One of the greatest rewards for us here at Random House is to hear that one of “our” books has had a profound influence in your classrooms. We recently received an e-mail from Jeff Kuhr, a film/media teacher at Lawrence High School in Lawrence, Kansas sharing the work his students have done over the past year. The Focus Film Festival, which began with 14 films five years ago and most recently boasted 92 student entries, combines the young talent of students from fifteen different high schools in the Northeastern Kansas region. The result was an awards ceremony attended by over 200 filmmakers, family members and community enthusiasts—a celebration of creativity, initiation, and raw talent. (more…)