May 2012

Lisa See, author of New York Times bestseller Dreams of Joy, recently sat down with St. Louis’ HEC-TV to talk about her books and her unique writing process. In “A Conversation with Lisa See,” the author discusses the extensive research methods through which her books come alive. See, who has authored a number of critically acclaimed books, including Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and Shanghai Girls, says that her research is so thorough because incorporating genuine aspects of Chinese culture is key in bringing her stories to life. When it comes to her research, See goes the whole length: spending time in the country, interviewing real refugees, and even making it a point to eat everything she makes her characters consume. But facts and figures aren’t the only trademark elements of See’s novels; the author explains that she focuses on universal relationships because she wants her readers to relate to her characters and step into their shoes, joining them on their journeys of self-reflection and self-discovery.

Watch Lisa See talk more about her novels and answer viewer questions in the full interview.


To request a complimentary examination copy of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks to review for classroom use, please contact us at or call us toll free at (844) 851-3955.

Students at Evans High School in Evans, Georgia celebrate their first Henrietta Lacks Day

By Dana McCullough, Biology Teacher, Evans High School

On October 4, 2011, the Evans High School Multicultural Club and Evans High School Biology teachers invited the entire staff and student body of Evans High School to celebrate the life of Henrietta Lacks.  Henrietta Lacks died of cervical cancer at Johns Hopkins Hospital on this day in 1951.  Henrietta Lacks may have died on this day, but her cells, called HeLa cells, are still living in laboratories all over the world.  “Henrietta’s cells were the first immortal human cells ever grown in culture.  They were essential to developing the polio vaccine.  They went up in the first space missions to see what would happen to cells in zero gravity.  Many scientific landmarks since then have used her cells, including cloning, gene mapping, and in vitro fertilization” (Zielinski, 2010).  This is an incredible story told by Rebecca Skloot in her award-winning book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.  This book makes a wonderful springboard for discussions concerning civil rights and medical ethics as well as the science behind these miraculous cells.  Another interesting subject covered in the book involves the Lacks family.  The family receives no monetary compensation from laboratories and drug companies using HeLa cells and they cannot afford healthcare. (more…)

On Tuesday, April 24, 2012, author Thomas Mullen visited Central Catholic High School in Tolelo, Ohio, where he was the featured speaker in the Central Catholic High School Reads program. Upon his visit, all students were required to read his book, The Last Town on Earth and teachers incorporated it into different class subjects.  Marie A. Arter, Director of Curriculum, said: “Author Thomas Mullen brought a fresh, intellectual and creative approach to the students and faculty of Toledo Central Catholic High School in our annual author visit event that celebrates reading and writing.  Tom meet with our community, students, and faculty to shared his love of writing, research and cultivating curiosity in life.  Indeed, he inspired our students to look at history from multiple perspectives.  Without doubt, I would recommend Thomas Mullen and his book The Last Town on Earth to any high school looking for ways to motivate their students to make curricular connections while becoming lifelong learners and readers.”

Click here for more information about the CCHS Reads program and Mullen’s visit.

Calling all Tri-State Educators: The Random House Academic Marketing Department invites you to our FREE Fourth Annual Author Event for NYC Educators! Held at the Random House, Inc. building in midtown Manhattan on Friday, June 29 from 12-3pm, the event features six authors who will each discuss and sign free copies of their book. The author line-up is: Sam Bracken (My Orange Duffel Bag), Susan Cain (Quiet), Matt de la Pena (Mexican WhiteBoy), Julie Otsuka (The Buddha in the Attic), Said Sayrafiezadeh (When Skateboards Will Be Free), and Darin Strauss (Half a Life).

Also, the day’s programming will feature a special presentation on the Common Core Standards given by our friends at the Core Knowledge Foundation. You won’t want to miss it!

A free lunch will be served at noon. If you are not joining us for lunch, please be sure to arrive at least fifteen minutes before the start time of 12:30PM.

RSVP necessary. Click here for the official invitation.

Last year I retired from a profession that was probably the most challenging, the most frustrating, and in many ways the most rewarding profession that I’ve ever held. When I rolled my wheelchair out of my high school English classroom for the last time, I had to take a moment to recognize and honor all that I had gained from the experience. My reasons for choosing not to return to the classroom are complex and varied, but one thing is without doubt: to watch a student read, process, and discuss a work of literature is a thing of beauty.

I recall so well my freshman class’s heartfelt reactions to the suffering of young Elie Wiesel as we became immersed in the story of Night. Class discussions revolved around the cruelty of humankind and the necessity of hope, and their journals reflected just how engrossed they were in the journey. They experienced a similar reaction when the students (who were, like the school, about 92% Caucasian) dove into the life of Richard Wright and his shocking experience of growing up in the Jim Crow South in Black Boy.  During our conversations we explored topics such as the use of the “N word,” poverty, racism, religion, and, of course, the cruelty of humanity. (more…)