Author Articles


9780812997316By Michelle Kuo, author of Reading with Patrick (Random House, July 2017).

Contact us at highschool@penguinrandomhouse.com with your full school mailing address to claim a FREE advanced reader copy of Reading with Patrick (while supplies last; we are unable to ship outside of the US and to PO boxes).

Every teacher has likely experienced two emotions: the feeling that you’ve gotten through to a student and the feeling that you’ve let him down. In the first, the classroom is a powerful place of human connection, and the lightbulb that has gone off in the kid’s head is hot and radiant. In the second, life proves too complex, too full of barriers and missteps, and the teacher, with regret and perhaps some shame, retraces her decisions, dissecting what went wrong. (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…)

9780385347754By Jay Heinrichs, author of Thank You for Arguing, Revised and Updated Edition (Three Rivers Press, August 2013).

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…)

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…)

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…)

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