9780307464972A letter of appreciation from Sara Brown, Library Media Specialist at Portage High School in Portage, Michigan.

It is my honor to write in behalf of Mr. Max Brooks, the guest speaker at our first ever Portage CommuniTEEN Read event on November 12, 2015.

We asked Mr. Brooks to be part of this inaugural event in our community to help lay a solid foundation for years to come. He is a fantastic speaker who engages his audience by lacing important topics with humor. We had almost 1,000 students attend his presentations; many were 9″‘ graders. Max kept them engaged and interested which was evident by the 20-30 hands that were raised anytime he asked if there were more questions. Based on participation, adults were no less engrossed. (more…)

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9780307464972By Andrew Warner, Rolla High School (Rolla, MO)

For struggling readers, the simple act of finishing a book can be a challenge. In addition to obstacles that reading ability may present, some students are so discouraged by past classroom experiences that the sight of a high school textbook instantly turns them off. Additionally, the emphasis that Common Core places on complex and nonfiction reading leaves many students, and even some teachers, feeling that nothing they read in class can be interesting or relevant.

To help these students, my department created a class focused on graphic novels. We wanted to provide students with accessible—and relatable—nonfiction that would align with CCSS standards. After reading Max Brooks’s The Harlem Hellfighters last year, I decided to include it in our class. I was intrigued to learn about a part of history that was previously unfamiliar to me, and I admired the author’s honest depiction of war and its portrayal in the media. It seemed like the perfect complement to a more traditional graphic novel like Art Spiegelman’s Maus. (more…)

9780307464972By Lakeya Omogun, New Design Middle School (Harlem, New York)

 Whose perspective is told? Whose perspective is missing? Whose voice is heard? Whose voice is missing? What might this person say if they had a voice? These were some of the questions my students explored while performing critical readings of various historical texts.

After learning about World War I, my students were also challenged to consider the missing perspectives and voices in the stories of this historical event. What better way to learn about them than from an author? On Friday, December 12th, 2014, Max Brooks visited my seventh-grade classroom in Harlem, New York, at New Design Middle School to tell my students about one missing perspective in the stories of World War I, The Harlem Hellfighters. (more…)

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

I knew that my novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, was making its way onto high school reading lists when curious emails began popping up in my inbox. They tended to go something like this:

“Um, you know, your book, Motel on the Corner of Sweet and Sour—dude, it’s like m favorite novel of all time!! And I’m kinda wondering if you could, like, answer these twelve questions for me? (In my mind, I always hear this question coming from a nasally, voice-cracking, pre-pubescent 14-year-old boy wearing a Hot Topic hoodie with his ear buds in, listening to “Bring Me the Horizon”).

And just like that, I was suddenly someone’s homework. Right up there with Of Mice and Men, the Pythagorean Theorem, and building dioramas out of old shoe-boxes and craftpaper.

To be honest, I wasn’t entirely sure how my novel would be received.

So then I asked myself why so many students embrace books like The Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird—because they’re amazing novels? Sure. But moreover, these are books with young protagonists. They offer voices that are readily absorbed by the intrepid imaginations of young adults. (more…)

Helmet for My Pillow by Robert Leckie

Did you and your students tune in this past weekend to the premiere of HBO’s new miniseries, The Pacific? We did, and we’re hooked! Reissued to coincide with the start of this series are two bestselling World II classics, Helmet for My Pillow: From Parris Island to the Pacific by Robert Leckie, and With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa by E.B. Sledge. Leckie and Sledge (portrayed in the series by actors James Badge Dale and Joseph Mazello) were two young marines who participated some of the greatest battles in the Pacific War. Their vivid, first-person narratives of combat and survival served as the primary sources for the miniseries, along with unpublished accounts from John “Manila” Basilone (portrayed by actor John Seda). Pick up copies of their books today, and enjoy the rest of the first season of The Pacific! Also of interest: The Pacific War: From Pearl Harbor to Hiroshima edited by Daniel Marston and War in the Pacific 1941-1945 by Richard Overy; foreword by Dale Dye.