Friday, July 18, 2014

Remembering Pulitzer Prize-winning author James MacGregor Burns

Pulitzer Prize-winning author James MacGregor Burns passed away this week at the age of 95. Winner of the National Book Award in History and Biography, Burns was a passionate writer and political scientist. His biographies of major presidents, including his award-winning Roosevelt: The Soldier of Freedom, took a detailed look at leadership and the role of the president.

Burns was fervent in his beliefs on national reform and his criticisms of America's governmental systems are still applicable in today's political debates. He was allowed unfettered access to some of the nation's most influential men as an informal adviser to many presidents.

His book Leadership continues to be taught in classrooms around the country, and it hasn't been out of print since its publication in 1971. His theory on transformational leadership has been the basis of more than 400 doctoral dissertations.

You'll learn more about James MacGregor Burns in his obituary in the New York Times.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Neil Gaiman in Your Classroom

OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE by Neil GaimanOur free Common Core-aligned teacher's guide for Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane is now available!

Neil himself said it is "really excellent."

Are you looking for nonfiction for your English class?

If your students are reading novels such as Johnny Tremain and Drums Along the Mohawk, add a look at the heroines of the period with Cokie Roberts' Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation. We've got a FREE ebook for teachers that includes a sample chapter and a Common Core-aligned teaching guide.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Free Common Core-Aligned Teaching Guides

Our free ebooks for teachers contain a sample chapter and a complete common core-aligned teaching guide.

We hope they'll help you decide which books are right for you and your students.

You'll find a complete selection here.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Remembering Lillian B. Rubin

Influential author Lillian B. Rubin passed away June 17th at the age of 90. She was the author of many bestselling and significant titles including: Worlds of Pain: Life in the Working-Class Family, Women of a Certain Age, Families on the Fault Line, The Transcendent Child, Intimate Strangers and Just Friends. A sociologist and psychotherapist, Dr. Rubin dedicated her life's work to exploring issues related to gender, class, aging and how social authorities worked to limit individuals' expectations of themselves. 

The daughter of Ukrainian immigrants, Dr. Rubin didn't enroll in college until the age of 39. After receiving her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, she spent the rest of her career searching for what "success in life" meant and sharing her findings and discussions in texts and articles. Her books have been part of college curriculums for decades and will continue to influence students for decades to come. 

For more information on Lillian B. Rubin visit her website here or read some of her articles at To read her obituary in the New York Times, click here.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Common Core Cluster-THE AMERICAN WEST

American expansion into the West is an integral part of the history of the United States as a nation. From outlaws and lawmen to Native Americans, the history of the American West is filled with personal tales of struggle and accomplishment that helped make up the identity of the nation as a whole.

Thrilling fiction titles like The Son, The Orchardist, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and Worthy Brown's Daughter bring the Wild West into startling view with tales of harsh ungoverned lands. These books paired with the non-fiction titles of To Hell on a Fast Horse, Astoria, Shot All To Hell and Chief Joseph give students a glimpse into a critical part of our nation's history. 

Sample Discussion Questions:

Compare and contrast the imagined life of Jesse James in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford to the life of Jesse James presented in Shot All to Hell.

What impact did the outlaws from To Hell on a Fast Horse and Shot All to Hell have on American History?

How do the difficult living conditions in the West described in Astoria and Chief Joseph compare to the conditions described in The Son and The Orchardist?

Discuss the differences in the Nez Perce people described in Chief Joseph and the Comanche tribe Eli finds himself a part of in The Son.

What effects did the "lawlessness" of the West have on the early settlers? Use Worthy Brown's Daughter and To Hell on a Fast Horse to support your answers.

Compare Matthew Penny's journey to Oregon from Worthy Brown's Daughter in 1860 with the expedition taken by the men from Astoria in 1810.

What similarities can you draw between the characters in The Orchardist and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford?

Friday, June 13, 2014

Common Core Cluster - SCIENCE VS NATURE

From the dawn of scientific discovery scientists have ventured beyond imagination reaching farther into space, deeper into Earth's core and unlocking many of the mysteries surrounding human life. The question for scientists today (and for the future) is no longer can we, but should we--a questions long echoed within literature. Before DNA profiling, GPS location and cloning, there was Victor Frankenstein and his monster. From her imagination, Mary Shelley created a mad scientist whose personage would be reflected again and again in cautionary stories of man attempting to control nature. 

These thought-provoking stories are not only wildly entertaining for students, but carry with them important discussion topics for the future of science as we know it. The non-fiction titles in this Common Core cluster help compliment these classic tales with the both positive and unsettling real-world implications. The imaginations of Aldus Huxley, Mary Shelley and Michael Crichton emphasize ethical questions echoed in What Should We Be Worried About?, Present at the Future, Clone, and Radioactive

Sample Discussion Questions:
Discuss the advances in science as they relate to the society described in Brave New World.

Of the many predictions described in Next, which have come to pass and which do scientists believe are on the horizon according to Clone and Present at the Future?

Victor Frankenstein set out to advance science, and through the course his obsession created a monster. How does Frankenstein's journey relate to Marie Curie and the controversial invention of nuclear power?

What role does science play in The Andromeda Strain? Is it wholly positive or negative? Use examples from the non-fiction titles to support your answer.

Pick one of the essays in What Should We Be Worried About? and discuss your thoughts as they relate to one of the fiction titles.

For more information on this Common Core cluster and more be sure to visit our Common Core site! Click here for more on Brave New World, Frankenstein, Next, The Andromeda Strain, What Should We Be Worried About?, Present at the Future, Clone and Radioactive.