Wednesday, April 23, 2014

New Common Core Cluster - COMING OF AGE

There is no more relevant topic for students today than growing up. Coming-of-age stories have been cornerstones of education for years. Often these stories, like To Kill A Mockingbird and Catcher in the Rye, become students' favorites. Common Core standards encourage the use of non-fiction alongside these classic literary staples, and HarperCollins has a rich backlist of non-fiction relating to the difficult time between childhood and adulthood. 

Guyland, Ophelia Speaks, The Beauty Myth, Coming of Age on Zoloft and The Rise and Fall of the American Teenager each offer a unique perspective on the difficult issues that arise in that time between childhood and adulthood. These thought-provoking books will make great additions to classroom discussions of literary classics like The Alchemist, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Bell Jar, Round House, A Prayer for Owen Meany and The Graveyard Book

Sample Discussion Questions

How do the male/female dynamics in each of the fiction titles reflect the ideals and issues represented in Ophelia Speaks and Guyland?

Many of the non-fiction titles discuss the role of society on shaping adolescents' sense of self, how can this be related to Bod's experience among ghosts in The Graveyard Book?

The Bell Jar was published in the early 60s, how do Esther's major conflicts relate to the more contemporary stories from Ophelia Speaks? What has changed in the past 40 years? What hasn't changed? 

Discuss how the role of the "teenager" has evolved over the course of history using The Rise and Fall of the American Teenager and any of the novels discussed. 

Discuss the role of parents as they are portrayed in the novels and in the non-fiction titles. 

Write a fictionalized scenario where one of the novel characters (Jem, Scout, Esther, Joe, Bod, Santiago, Owen or John) is faced with the present day issues discussed in the non-fiction titles.

To see more information on these titles and more visit our Common Core website!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

50 CHILDREN On Sale Today!

Journalist Steven Pressman's new book 50 Children: One Ordinary American Couple's Extraordinary Rescue Mission into the Heart of Nazi Germany is on sale today! Writer and director of the documentary of the same name, Pressman tells the astonishingly true story of an ordinary American couple's journey into Nazi-occupied Austria to rescue fifty Jewish children in 1939--the largest group of children brought to American during the Holocaust. Drawing from Eleanor Kraus's unpublished memoir, rare historical documents, and interviews with more than a dozen surviving children, and illustrated with period photographs, archival materials, and memorabilia, 50 Children is a remarkable tale of personal courage and triumphant heroism that offers a fresh, unique insight into a critical period of history. 

For more information on the Kraus' heroic journey click here; and for more information on 50 Children click here.

THE ALCHEMIST 25th Anniversary Edition!

This year marks the 25th anniversary of one of the most influential coming-of-age tales of all time, Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist. The Alchemist is an inspirational classic that has been adopted into classrooms all over the world for over two decades. The young protagonist Santiago embarks on an unforgettable journey that takes him from Andalusia to Egypt in search of wisdom. Twenty-five years later, The Alchemist is still adopted into courses daily, and our easy-to-use and thought-provoking study guide enables instructors to get the most out of this moving tale. 

We encourage instructors and fans alike to take a look at the new study guide here and click here for more information on The Alchemist 25th Anniversary Edition.

Monday, April 21, 2014

On Using ORPHAN TRAIN to Teach History and Tolerance

Orphan Train By Christina Baker KlineChristina Baker Kline’s #1 New York Times bestseller Orphan Train has been having a wonderful year in academic adoptions: to date, it has been chosen as a common read at Richard Stockton College, Edgewood College, and a high school in Waynesville, Missouri! And now Teaching Tolerance—a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center—has posted tips on how to use Orphan Train to teach history and tolerance in high school classrooms.

They write:

"In the classroom, this book can be used to illustrate discrimination against the Irish in the U.S. in the early part of the 20th century, and to reveal the complexity of a period of midcentury history that is often overlooked. The book can be used to teach about why understanding the past is relevant—and necessary—to understanding the present. . . . Additionally, it offers two strong female protagonists who forge their own ways despite the odds stacked against them. Orphan Train is ripe with opportunities for discussion, further research and developing the complex thinking necessary to draw historical parallels."

To check out student comprehension and research prompts for language arts and social studies classrooms, please click here!


"Why do some of the world's most successful women still struggle with self-doubts and feelings of inadequacy?" In The Confidence Code, Katty Kay and Claire Shipman examine the concept of confidence and how believing in yourself--or not--can impact leadership and success. 

Perfect for including in discussions on gender equality, women's studies and ambition, The Confidence Code has already gained a lot of attention in many important conversations. 

For more on The Confidence Code:

Charlie Rose
USA Today
New York Magazine's The Cut
The Diane Rehm Show
MSNBC's Now with Alex Wagner

Friday, April 18, 2014


David McCulloughauthor of the now-famous "Your Are Not Special" speechhas just published a new book, which elaborates on his commencement speech as a call-to-arms for parents and students alike. Based on his own observations as a father and English teacher, McCullough poses many important questions regarding the current teenage landscape, and the theory, function and outcome of education today. 

To hear more about David and Your Are Not Special check out his interviews with USA Today and The Boston Globe Sunday Magazine.


Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez passed away yesterday at the age of 87. One of the most influential authors of the 20th century, Márquez is best known for his seminal novel One Hundred Years of Solitude. The Colombian novelist is credited with popularizing magic realism, and One Hundred Years of Solitude has become a classroom classic.

For those of you who haven't read One Hundred Years of Solitude, here's a wonderful introduction to the novel by Thomas C. Foster, professor of English at the University of Michigan-Flint and author of How to Read Literature Like a Professor. 

To read more on Gabriel García Márquez and his influential work click here