April 2016


9781101907290The Universal Academy for the College Bound (UACB) High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin is launching a City-Wide Community Engagement book club for youth and adult mentors and has chosen several Penguin Random House titles for the inaugural program: Jay Z’s Decoded (Spiegel & Grau), Wes Moore’s The Other Wes Moore (Spiegel & Grau), and Shaka Senghor’s Writing My Wrongs (Convergent Books).

In total, the school’s English department selected eleven fiction and nonfiction titles by African American authors that, according to their press release, “highlight Social Justice issues that parallel youth’s lives across the city, poverty, homelessness, and being raised in single-parent households.” UACB is led by Universal Companies, the only African American charter school management company in the country, and aims to promote literacy, increase reading ability, and provide mentorship opportunities for its students through the book club program by exposing them to books that they can relate to. (more…)

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9781611802689 (1)What better way to encourage your students both to write and to keep in touch with peers and teachers during the summer break than by reviving the lost art of letter writing?

Though many young people today may regard it as an outdated practice, Write Back Soon! reframes the letter writing process in a way that is fresh and exciting. Karen Benke, the author, took note of the way in which correspondence has been almost entirely digitized in the form of texting and email. Though the sheer convenience of these modes of communication explains their popularity in everyday use, her book celebrates the personal connection that is so fundamental to a handwritten letter, note, or postcard. And let’s not forget the wealth of historical and literary figures who have been immortalized in their own letters and correspondence: Dickinson, Mozart, Keats, and so on. The educational opportunities abound. So what are you waiting for? Jumpstart your students’ minds this summer and claim your free copy today!

Write Back Soon! is a letter-writing workbook published by Shambhala, featuring fun prompts as well as imaginative activities, and its contributors include a variety of writers such as Neil Gaiman and Jon J. Muth. And we are giving away 25 FREE copies to high school teachers!  To claim a free copy—while supplies last—please email highschool@penguinrandomhouse.com with your request. (Please note that only high school teachers within the United States are eligible.)

 

9781594746376T. S. Eliot famously wrote that “April is the cruelest month”—and William Shakespeare may be apt to agree with him, as he died on April 23, 1616 in Stratford-upon-Avon shortly after his fifty-second birthday. However, though the Bard himself passed away, his work and his words have proven immortal. It’s impossible to know if Shakespeare was cognizant of the way in which his tragedies, comedies, and histories would persist throughout the centuries. Who knows? Maybe he wouldn’t have been surprised in the least that in the twenty-first century he still takes center stage in English classes across the globe (or that his plays are still performed at that other Globe). Still, could he, in all his wisdom and piercing insight into humanity, ever have predicted that someday there would be a Shakespearean retelling of Star Wars? Probably not. (more…)

by Ken Ludwig, author of How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare (Broadway Books, July 2014)

Since my early teens, I’ve felt strongly about the value of Shakespeare, but it wasn’t until I became a father that I figured out how to share my passion with the people I love. One day, my daughter came home from first grade spouting a line of Shakespeare—“I know a bank where the wild thyme blows” from A Midsummer Night’s Dream—and at that moment, a light bulb went off in my head.

Starting that weekend, I set up a routine. My daughter and I would spend two hours each week memorizing speeches from Shakespeare’s plays. We started with short passages from the comedies and, gradually, increased the length and complexity of the passages we studied. To my delight, my daughter took to it immediately, and the hours we spent learning Shakespeare together were some of the best family times of our lives. (more…)