9781611802689 (1)What better way to encourage your students both to write and to keep in touch with peers and teachers during the summer break than by reviving the lost art of letter writing?

Though many young people today may regard it as an outdated practice, Write Back Soon! reframes the letter writing process in a way that is fresh and exciting. Karen Benke, the author, took note of the way in which correspondence has been almost entirely digitized in the form of texting and email. Though the sheer convenience of these modes of communication explains their popularity in everyday use, her book celebrates the personal connection that is so fundamental to a handwritten letter, note, or postcard. And let’s not forget the wealth of historical and literary figures who have been immortalized in their own letters and correspondence: Dickinson, Mozart, Keats, and so on. The educational opportunities abound. So what are you waiting for? Jumpstart your students’ minds this summer and claim your free copy today!

Write Back Soon! is a letter-writing workbook published by Shambhala, featuring fun prompts as well as imaginative activities, and its contributors include a variety of writers such as Neil Gaiman and Jon J. Muth. And we are giving away 25 FREE copies to high school teachers!  To claim a free copy—while supplies last—please email highschool@penguinrandomhouse.com with your request. (Please note that only high school teachers within the United States are eligible.)

 

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Leap Write Inby Karen Benke, author of Leap Write In! (April 2013, Roost Books) and Rip the Page! (Roost Books)

After the last bell, the middle and high school students in my small town gather on the sunny patio in front of the local Starbucks.  They hang out in lose clusters talking, snacking and, of course, text messaging.  A few feet away, I sit in my silver car and wait for my pre-teen son to finish his socializing, the conversations I overhear cause the corners of my mouth turn upward as I imagine their words, exchanges, exclamations finding their way into poems.  As a writing coach to kids and kids-at-heart, this scene—and others like them—serve as inspiration for the many experimental writing prompts I create to get people inspired to pick up a pen.

In addition to my coaching and work with California Poets in the Schools, I meet with groups of tweens and teens at local bookstores.  (more…)

Write Your College Essay in Less Than a Day by Elizabeth Wissner-Gross

by Elizabeth Wissner-Gross, author of Write Your College Essay in Less Than a Day

Having led college essay-writing workshops for English teachers and guidance counselors (as well as students) in high schools throughout the country, I know that faculty members are generally eager to step in to help alleviate the stress. But many teachers and counselors tell me that they really don’t know what sort of essays colleges prefer nowadays. Even in this weak economy, or perhaps because of it, the competition to get into the most competitive colleges is still increasing. And teachers say the results of college admissions are often baffling. Some teachers report that they’ve seen their top students—outstanding essay writers with top grades and test scores—get turned away from colleges inexplicably. And teachers wish to be more helpful. (more…)

Letter to My Daughter by George Bishop

by George Bishop, author of Letter to My Daughter: A Novel

In my novel Letter to My Daughter, Laura, a middle-aged mother, writes a long letter to her runaway daughter.  Early on in the story, she bemoans the fact that letter writing seems to be a dying art:  “In this hyperactive age of emails and text messages, the kind of correspondence that Tim [her boyfriend] and I shared must seem like an anachronism to you . . . But I sincerely hope, dear Elizabeth, that someday you might have the pleasure of such an anachronism; that one day you’ll experience for yourself the irreplaceable joy of receiving letters from a lover.”  Much like my protagonist, I too appreciate the value of letters as a form of communication, and for this reason I’m always looking for ways to incorporate letter-writing activities in my English classes. 

Unlike an electronic message, a letter’s a tangible thing; it’s got heft and substance.  We can hold it in our hands, turn it over, smell it even.  We appreciate the extra time it took the sender to write out their thoughts on paper, put the paper in an envelope, address, stamp, and mail it.  A letter says, Listen to me.  I’ve got something important to tell you. (more…)

Ballistics by Billy Collins

Got any budding poets in your classroom? Well, April is National Poetry Month, established in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets. According to www.poets.org, this is a time “when publishers, booksellers, literary organizations, libraries, schools and poets around the country band together to celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture. Thousands of businesses and non-profit organizations participate through readings, festivals, book displays, workshops, and other events.”

What are your classes doing during National Poetry Month? We want to hear, so post your comments below!

Click here for a list of poetry books from Random House, Inc. you can incorporate into your class activities. Need to jazz up those classroom walls? Email us for a FREE Billy Collins Ballistics poster. Limited supplies.