Teacher Talk


just mercyBy Amanda Tobier, English Teacher, Bronx Lab School

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.

At the high school I work at in the Bronx, we started a book club for teachers last year. It is a great way to spend time with colleagues when we are more ourselves, and not always acting as an educator or administrator. As with any book club, we spend a lot of time deciding on the menu, and enjoy putting our feet up on the comfortable chairs in the school library. And sometimes, like other book clubs, we stray off topic . . .

But when we turned our attention to Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy, we were immediately gripped by what we were reading. Even before our first meeting, we were emailing each other with pages that blew us away. By the time we met, we had all finished reading the book—an accomplishment for busy educators!—and we were looking forward to discussing. (more…)

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garbologyBy Elizabeth Grimaldi, English Teacher, Cranbury School 

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.

Not unexpectedly, the inspection of an individual’s garbage can reveal a great deal about a person, sometimes reveal otherwise hidden secrets, or even solve a crime. The study of the garbage produced by a group of people, by any account, can also help us to draw conclusions about that society and the values it holds. This premise propels the narrative of Edward Humes’ nonfiction book entitled Garbology: Our Dirty Little Love Affair with Trash. According to Humes, if the United States does not curb its excessive consumerism, and commit to a significant reduction in trash production, the country and world will be in grave peril. (more…)

9780307887443In this essay, Gillian King-Cargile shares how Ready Player One is being used by Northern Illinois University’s STEM Read to explore STEM concepts and build computational thinking skills in students. Teens are participating in hands-on, game-based learning to dig deeper into Ernest Cline’s novel while challenging themselves to build a better reality.  

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.

The first time I read Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, I was obsessed with it. What’s not to love about a book that wraps the classic hero’s journey into a futuristic tale of love, video games, and virtual reality? As soon as I finished, I wanted to flip right back to the first page and relive the ways the main character used his wits to solve puzzles, stop evil corporations, get the girl, and save the day. (more…)

the reason i jumpBy Elizabeth Grimaldi, English Teacher, Cranbury School  

The Reason I Jump was written by a thirteen-year-old, non-verbal autistic, Naoki Higoshida, who is clearly not only a gifted memoirist, but a brilliant fable and parable writer as well. With captivating honesty and refreshing simplicity, Naoki shares the answers to many of the questions he’s been asked (and imagines) by people over his thirteen years, in an effort to shed some light on his non-normative behaviors and more importantly, on his inner world.  A powerful story of courage that will move you to tears, I added it to an eighth grade English curriculum unit this year. The unit begins with an excerpt from Daniel Keyes Flowers for Algernon, and the documentary Wretches and Jabberers, the story of a trip around the world with a group of autistics that includes Naoki.  This rich contextual material was designed to lay the groundwork for the study of the text. (more…)

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In August 2017, the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY) released its Social Justice Book List, containing over 200 titles spanning all levels of education. Over sixty educators hand-selected these books, nominating those that they have successfully used in the classroom to teach social justice skills and concepts to their students. We are proud to report that over a quarter of the books that appear on the list are published by Penguin Random House. Click here for a compilation of all PRH titles featured on NNSTOY’s list. (more…)

9780812993547Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates’s book-length essay on race in America presented as a letter to his teenage son, is one of the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY) selections for their Social Justice Book List. Abdul Wright, the 2017 Minnesota State Teacher of the Year and NNSTOY member, explains why this book was chosen:

In Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates’s portrayal of the African American story is an explicit and compellingly sincere narrative on what it means to be an African American male in American society.

The book is a letter to his Black son, and Coates is unabashed in his pride for him in this work that serves as both advice and warning to him. “The entire narrative of this country argues against the truth of who you are,” he writes. (more…)

9780805210156 I Never Saw Another Butterfly, a collection of drawings and poems made by the children held at the Terezin Concentration Camp from 1942 to 1944, is one of the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY) selections for their Social Justice Book List. Katherine Bassett, the CEO and President of NNSTOY and 2000 New Jersey State Teacher of the Year, writes on her own experience of sharing the book with her middle school students:

As a librarian I have long been struck by the power of books. Books can fill us with joy, bring us to tears, move us to action. Some books change the way we look at the world.

A book that profoundly changed me and many of my students is I Never Saw Another Butterfly: Children’s Drawings and Poems from the Terezin Concentration Camp, 1942-1944, edited by Hana Volavkova. (more…)

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