Author Articles


 

greenBy Sam Graham-Felsen, author of Green (Random House, January 2018)

In March of 2007, I left my life as a political journalist in New York and moved to Chicago to work as the chief blogger on Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. I was responsible for telling the story of the movement behind Obama, and I spent a lot of time traveling the country talking to people from all races and walks of life. I met veterans, farmers, college students, working class folks from the Rust Belt, many of them former Republicans—most of whom had never been politically engaged until Obama came along. It was thrilling to meet so many people who believed, as I did, in the vision of a united and reconciled America. And it seemed, after Obama was elected, that our country truly had turned the page. (more…)

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9780804189934By Jay Heinrichs, author of Thank You for Arguing, Third Edition (Three Rivers Press, July 2017).

Adding rhetoric to a literature syllabus can spark something surprising in students.

Few people can say that John Quincy Adams changed their lives. Those who can are wise to keep it to themselves. Friends tell me I should also stop prating about my passion for rhetoric, the 3,000-year-old art of persuasion.

John Quincy Adams changed my life by introducing me to rhetoric.

Sorry. (more…)

Reading with Patrick

Recently graduated from Harvard University, Michelle Kuo arrived in the rural town of Helena, Arkansas, as a Teach for America volunteer, bursting with optimism and drive. But she soon encountered the jarring realities of life in one of the poorest counties in America, still disabled by the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow. In Reading with Patrick, Kuo, the child of Taiwanese immigrants, shares the story of her complicated but rewarding mentorship of one student, Patrick Browning, and his remarkable literary and personal awakening. Below is an essay Kuo wrote for educators about her own experiences as a teacher.

To request a complimentary examination copy to review for classroom use, please contact us at K12education@edu.penguinrandomhouse.com or call us toll free at (844) 851-3955. (more…)

9781101907290By Shaka Senghor, author of Writing My Wrongs (Convergent Books, January 2017).

Although I grew up in the ’80s in a very different era, I can still relate to many of the challenges our youth face today. By the time I turned seventeen years old, gun violence had become a normal part of my life. I watched many of my childhood friends and family members get gunned down in the streets. When I was fourteen, my older brother shot my oldest brother in the neck; at fifteen, my childhood friend was shot to death; at sixteen, my older brother was shot, and years later was shot again, this time leading to his paralysis from the waist down; and at the age of seventeen, I was shot several times while standing on the corner in my neighborhood. By the time I turned nineteen, I had been surrounded by so much violence that I became desensitized to it. (more…)

9780807094600By Lyn Mikel Brown, author of Powered by Girl (Beacon Press, September 2016).

Recently I was asked to consult on a new leadership program for high school girls, funded by a wealthy businesswoman. The program was designed to help girls discover their “inner compass,” learn to take personal responsibility for their actions, develop networking skills and social media manners, and enter the world with “grit” and “a personal brand.” The businesswoman’s story, experiences, and successes would anchor a series of daylong training sessions and other successful women would model key concepts and offer information to the girls. (more…)

9781101903544 (1)By Mike Massimino, author of Spaceman (Crown Archetype, October 2016).

When I was six years old, I watched Neil Armstrong walk on the moon and dreamed that one day I would follow in those historic footsteps. But as a working class kid who was skinny, awkward, nearsighted, and afraid of heights, I saw no path to becoming an astronaut. So my dream died by age eight, only to be rekindled after seeing the movie and reading the book The Right Stuff when I was a senior in college.

In my book, Spaceman, I encourage young people to never give up on big dreams. I take them through the struggles I overcame to get to space: pursuing an engineering degree, failing my PhD qualifying exam at MIT, being rejected by NASA three times before being accepted on the fourth try, and overturning a NASA medical disqualification by training my eyes to “see better.”  (more…)

9780812995435By Wayne Maines, whose family is the focus of Becoming Nicole (Random House Trade Paperbacks, June 2016) by Amy Ellis Nutt.

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…)

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