December 2015


9780307464972A letter of appreciation from Sara Brown, Library Media Specialist at Portage High School in Portage, Michigan.

It is my honor to write in behalf of Mr. Max Brooks, the guest speaker at our first ever Portage CommuniTEEN Read event on November 12, 2015.

We asked Mr. Brooks to be part of this inaugural event in our community to help lay a solid foundation for years to come. He is a fantastic speaker who engages his audience by lacing important topics with humor. We had almost 1,000 students attend his presentations; many were 9″‘ graders. Max kept them engaged and interested which was evident by the 20-30 hands that were raised anytime he asked if there were more questions. Based on participation, adults were no less engrossed. (more…)

9780812995411By Wayne Maines, father of Nicole Maines. The Maines family is the focus of Amy Ellis Nutt’s Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family (Random House, October 2015)

Recently I had the opportunity to speak at Bowdoin College, in Brunswick, Maine. Before the lecture I spent an hour walking around their beautiful campus, thinking about how to frame my discussion about equality, harassment and my family without getting too emotional. I was concerned that breaking into tears might distract from my message, which acknowledges that we have indeed come far these past five years, but further stresses that there is still a great deal of work to be done.

I am the proud father of identical twins: one is a boy and one is a girl. My beautiful daughter Nicole is transgender. This talk was important to me, a chance to meet with senior staff, middle management and students and have a conversation about transgender rights in schools. (more…)

9780767901260By Ron Suskind, author of A Hope in the Unseen: An American Odyssey from the Inner City to the Ivy League (Broadway Books, 1999)

Two decades ago, I went to the toughest school I could find in America. It happened to be in my hometown, Washington, DC, where I was the national affairs reporter for the Wall Street Journal. Bill Clinton was President, an economic boom was beginning, and despite the OJ Simpson verdict and Rodney King’s plea to “just get along,” there was reasoned optimism that progress in race relations was underway, slow but steady, with a growing African-American middle class and opportunities borne of affirmative action. I found a young man, a big dreamer with a dad in jail and a struggling mom, and followed him, his family, and an ensemble of characters, several of them white and privileged, for four years. The yield-a Pulitzer Prize­ winning series and then best-selling book, A Hope in the Unseen-were works that I hoped would last, and they did. Like The Other Wes Moore or Bryan Stevenson‘s Just Mercy, Hope was a favorite of the common reading experience and went on to sell a half-million copies. (more…)