August 2013


BrickcitySampson Davis, author of Living and Dying in Brick City: Stories from the Front Lines of an Inner-City E.R. and co-author of the New York Times bestseller The Pact, will be available this fall to Skype with your students.

Click here for more information about requesting a free 30-minute Skype session with Sampson Davis. Please note Skypes are limited and subject to the author’s availability.

To bring Sampson Davis to your school, click here.

Read the author’s message to educators here.

Tony Danza

Dear Teachers,

Here is my little note of encouragement as you are either returning to yet another school year or beginning your teaching career. I wish you all the best year of your students’ lives—I know that’s what you all wish for. The truth is, though, that this is a tough time for teachers and it’s gotten tougher since I taught for one year at Northeast High in Philadelphia in 2010. I’m back there often and I was just there for commencement where six hundred kids graduated. The day was electric! That’s the good news. The bad news is that, the night before, there was a retirement party for thirty-four of the school’s teachers. Their overriding reason for leaving was the contract they’d been offered by the district. Being a teacher was never about getting rich, but the continuing pay cuts and further givebacks proved to be a tipping point for them. It’s too bad that teachers, after years of service, are forced to decide when to leave based on any issue other than that they are ready to stop doing what they love. No reflection on a job and career done well, just a pragmatic decision about money. To many teachers, this is the final indignity. There were tears. (more…)

The Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksIn a news conference, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced an agreement with the family of Henrietta Lacks that will restrict NIH-financed research on the HeLa genome. Two members of Lacks’ family will serve on the HeLa Genome Council, marking the first time tissue donors have had a voice in the process and finally giving the Lacks family a say in how Henrietta’s cells are used. To learn more about this landmark announcement for which author Rebecca Skloot’s book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks has played such a large role, please read the following articles: The HeLa Genome: An Agreement on Privacy and Access from the NIH, Nature Magazine and The New York Times.

Pulitzer Prize-winning Sonia Nazario, author of Enrique’s Journey, recently addressed the United Nations about how to better manage global migration as part of the UN’s Panel Discussion on International Migration and Development.

While the UN emphasized how migration spurs positive development both in countries that receive and in those that send migrants, Nazario’s focus was different. Instead, she talked about how too many migrants, especially women, feel forced to leave their homelands and children to go abroad in order to survive, and how child-mother separations produce devastating consequences for families and society. She urged developed countries to focus on creating jobs in specific migrant-sending countries so more migrants can stay home—where most would rather be.

Nazario’s book, Enrique’s Journey, tells one personal story of global migration, as it follows the path of a Honduran youth named Enrique who journeys to the United States in search of his mother.  The book has become a common read selection for over 100 high schools and colleges.

The author’s recommendations on how developed countries like the United States can help keep more migrants at home drew praise throughout the day from panelists, member states, and representatives of non-governmental organizations in the audience. The representative for the United Methodist Women said thousands of their members had read Enrique’s Journey as part of their book club, and urged the UN to follow the recommendations Nazario outlined. An organizer of the conference later wrote to say: “Your presentation was very moving and opened our eyes.”

The meeting was designed to prepare UN delegates for a session in October where the UN hopes to make immigration policy decisions.

Click here for a video of Sonia’s UN talk (Nazario appears at 23:50).
Click here for more information about Enrique’s Journey.
Click here to visit the author’s website.

Photo by David Ebershoff

Photo by David Ebershoff

UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

UN Video

UN Video