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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Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom RiggsThe inspiration for a story can come from almost anywhere. I learned this first-hand a few years ago when I was inspired by some evocative old snapshots I found at a flea market. I wanted to know more about the people in them, but the photos were anonymous—long-disconnected from whomever had taken and discarded them—so instead I created their stories myself. The result was my first novel, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar ChildrenIt’s enjoyed some remarkable success, especially for a book from a debut novelist—there’s even a movie in the works! None of which would be happening if I hadn’t let a handful of musty pictures tell me a story. Stories are everywhere; it’s just a matter of tuning our ears to listen for them.

Given the way Miss Peregrine is told, with the photos I found woven through the narrative, it’s proven to be a fascinating conversation-starter for students and teachers of creative writing. Students can easily find photos of their own to use as writing prompts, either on the Internet or, better yet, in the attics and closets of parents and grandparents. (I discovered that it’s nearly impossible to write about old photographs without becoming interested in their history. There’s something fascinating about the immediacy of a photograph, no matter how old it is; though a picture might have been taken a hundred years ago, it is always, in some sense, now.) (more…)

Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel

From the award-winning author of Life of Pi comes another provocative and mesmerizing novel, Beatrice and Virgil—which hits bookstores today.

When Henry receives a letter from an elderly taxidermist, it poses a puzzle that he cannot resist. As he is pulled further into the world of this strange and calculating man, Henry becomes increasingly involved with the lives of a donkey and a howler monkey—named Beatrice and Virgil—and the epic journey they undertake together. With all the spirit and originality that made Life of Pi so beloved, this brilliant new novel takes the reader on a haunting odyssey. On the way Martel asks profound questions about life and art, truth and deception, responsibility and complicity.

We are delighted to award a free signed copy for one lucky fan of RHI Magazine on the Web. Email us to enter the contest with the subject line “Beatrice and Virgil Contest.”

 A teacher’s guide is forthcoming for the book. Email us to reserve one now. Click here to visit the book’s website. Click here to watch a video interview with the author.