Friday, October 29, 2010

Don’t Know Much About Civics? Not for Long Thanks to Kenneth C. Davis!

Kenneth C. Davis Photo By Nina SubinOne of our favorite (and smartest) authors, Ken Davis (left, photo by Nina Subin), has recently taken it upon himself to re-educate those of us who seem to have let our knowledge of Civics and the Constitution dwindle away over the years. Saddened by survey results that suggested many Americans couldn’t answer simple questions like “Who is the Vice President?” or “How many Senators are there?,” Ken has started a Civics Primer to remind us the fundamental facts of our nation’s history. This ongoing series on Ken’s Don’t Know Much About blog has five parts to it so far. Topics covered in these primers include—but are not limited to:

· Freedom of Speech

· The Right to Bear Arms

· Order of Executive Succession

· The Right to Due Process

All citizens and students—young and old—will benefit from this wonderful reminder from Ken Davis. If you’re like me, you’ll find yourself saying (embarrassingly aloud) “Oh yeah, that’s right” while reading about the things every one of us should know. Ken presents the essential information in an accessible, engaging, and fun way. I can’t wait to read the next edition! Now, more than ever I can see why People Magazine said that "Reading [Kenneth C. Davis] is like returning to the classroom of the best teacher you ever had.”

Monday, October 25, 2010

New Teaching Guide Available for Academy Award Nominated Documentary!

In 1971, when Dr. Daniel Ellsberg leaked what came to be known as “The Pentagon Papers”—classified documents detailing the history of U.S. involvement in Vietnam—to the press, National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger called him “the most dangerous man in America who must be stopped at all costs.” In the documentary The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, provides a comprehensive look at the release of these documents and the shockwaves that were set off in America as a result. PBS is screening the documentaryfor free as part of their POV series through October 27, 2010.

In collaboration with the documentary’s filmmakers—Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith—the Zinn Education Project has released a free 94-page teaching guide to accompany the film, offering eight lessons on the Vietnam War, Daniel Ellsberg, whistleblowing, the Pentagon Papers and more. The guide uses a variety of teaching strategies, including role play, critical reading, discussion, mock trial, small group imaginative writing, and personal narrative.

In addition to the fantastic activities included in the teaching guide, the Zinn Education Project has included a thorough list of additional reading resources to supplement the study of the film. Be sure to check out:

  1. Walter Dean Myers’s Patrol
  2. Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States
  3. Marilyn Young’s The Vietnam Wars
This film—and the accompanying teaching guide and supplementary materials—are sure to help students learn about the Vietnam War while engaging them in critical thinking about their own responsibilities as truth-tellers and peacemakers.

Maud Hart Lovelace: Deep Valley series

Jennifer Hart, Associate Publisher and editor, is crazy about Maud Hart Lovelace. She carefully tended to the reissued editions of Lovelace's Betsy-Tacy high school and beyond books last fall—and now, Jennifer has done the same for Maud Hart Lovelace's Deep Valley series. Carney's House Party and Winona's Pony Cart—both set in Deep Valley—are available again in a beautiful combined edition.

Put your feet up for a few minutes and read a bit of this lovely series.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Isn't It Time For You To Start Your Own Happiness Project?

One day, Gretchen Rubin realized that her life was passing by quicker than she had anticipated and that she hadn’t been spending enough time on things that really mattered. She decided to spend the next year of her life completing her “happiness project.” The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun is the New York Times’ bestselling chronicle of Rubin’s adventures test-driving many of the widely known suggestions for a happier life.

Each month she tackled a new set of resolutions drawn from a wide array of sources like scientific research, popular culture, and wisdom of the ages. She kept a “gratitude notebook,” made a greater effort to ask for help, and sought out more fun in her life. She immersed herself in the principles set forth by everyone from the Dalai Lama to Oprah.

Rubin gives readers a compelling and charming look at a new way of approaching one’s life. Her passion is infectious and has inspired many to start their own “happiness projects.” This concept has even begun making its way into the classroom. For example, psychologist Tom Glaser is teaching a community education course called “Your Happiness Project.” Inspired by The Happiness Project, Glaser designed a course which uses the text as well as the fields of positive psychology, emotional intelligence, and resilience theory. Consisting of exercises like meditations, music, and discussions, Glaser gives students daily homework and helps them to map out their one unique happiness plans for a more fulfilling life.

The Happiness Project’s societal impact doesn’t stop there! Recently it was announced that Sex ad the City star Kristin Davis will star in the NBC adaptation of Rubin’s book.

Praise for The Happiness Project:

“This book made me happy in the first five pages.” —AJ Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible

“Rubin’s funny, perceptive account is both inspirational and forgiving, and sprinkled with just enough wise tips, concrete advice and timely research . . . to qualify as self-help. Defying self-help expectations, however, Rubin writes with keen senses of self and narrative, balancing the personal and the universal with a light touch.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

For more information on the “happiness project” movement, please check out Gretchen Rubin’s blog. Please let us know if you need a desk copy or an examination copy.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Hillariously "Tragic" Life and Times of Adrian Mole

The Adrian Mole Diaries By Sue TownsendAs the resident “young one” in the office (look out 23, here I come!), I am the least removed from that wondrously terrible and confusing time known as adolescence. Perhaps it is because of this that I found myself drawn to the classic coming of age tales of Sue Townsend presented in The Adrian Mole Diaries. This new packaging of Townsend’s classics, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Age 13 3/4 and The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole, gives an honest and unabashed look into the experiences of an adolescent.

Feelings of nostalgia and fits of laughter are inevitable as Adrian takes you through the bumpy road of a teenager; we get candid reflections on everything from his parents’ marital troubles to the agony of love. Readers young and old have been (and will continue to be) compelled by the life of a self-proclaimed “misunderstood intellectual” struggling with a world set against him. Sue Townsend’s brilliant comic creation is an unforgettable lad whose self-absorption only gets funnier as his life becomes more desperate. He is just as agonizingly funny as he was over twenty years ago when he was first released upon the world.

Praise for The Adrian Mole Diaries:

“As sad and devastating as it is laugh-out-loud funny. A delight!” —New York Times

“The trouble with trying to read passages from the Adrian Mole Diaries aloud is that you find yourself laughing so hard you can’t go on. It’s that kind of book.” —Kansas City Star

If you think your students would enjoy The Adrian Mole Diaries, please request a desk copy .

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Real-Life Politics That Reads Like Fiction: GAME CHANGE by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin


In 2008, the presidential election became blockbuster entertainment. Everyone was watching as the race for the White House unfolded like something from the realm of fiction. The meteoric rise and historic triumph of Barack Obama. The shocking fall of the House of Clinton—and the improbable resurrection of Hillary as Obama’s partner and America’s face to the world. The mercurial performance of John McCain and the mesmerizing emergence of Sarah Palin. But despite the wall-to-wall media coverage of this spellbinding drama, remarkably little of the real story behind the headlines has yet been told.

In Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime, John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, two of the country’s leading political reporters, use their unrivaled access to pull back the curtain on the Obama, Clinton, McCain, and Palin campaigns. Based on hundreds of interviews with the people who lived the story, Game Change is a reportorial tour de force that reads like a fast-paced novel. Character driven and dialogue rich, replete with extravagantly detailed scenes your students will find intriguing, this is the occasionally shocking, often hilarious, ultimately definitive account of the campaign of a lifetime.

Praise for Game Change:

"A fascinating account. . . . Heilemann and Halperin serve up a spicy smorgasbord of observations, revelations, and allegations. . . . The authors mix savvy political analysis in these pages with detailed reconstructions of scenes and conversations. . . . Game Change leaves the reader with a vivid, visceral sense of the campaign and a keen understanding of the paradoxes and contingencies of history."—Michiko Kakutani, New York Times

"A thoroughly researched, well-paced and occasionally very amusing read. . . . The result is something that conveys the feel, or perhaps more accurately the smell, of one of recent history's most thrilling elections, and it does so better than any of the other books already on the market."—The Economist

“An amazing piece of work. . . . One of the best books on politics of any kind. . . . An absolutely gripping read.”—Financial Times

Please let us know if you would like to receive a desk copy or examination copy of Game Change.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Making Wise Food Choices with RIGHTEOUS PORKCHOP by Nicolette Hahn Niman


Students know that it’s best to avoid the meat, poultry, milk, and eggs produced by the often-shocking practices of big agribusiness—but do they know how to do this? Do they know how to reclaim the pleasures of delicious, healthful, honest food? In Righteous Porkchop: Finding a Life and Good Food Beyond Factory Farms they learn how to do all this and more.

One of the most appealing things about Righteous Porkchop is the gentle, nonthreatening tone that Nicolette Hahn Niman uses throughout her book: she is never preachy, shrill, or pedantic (relax—you and your students do not have to become vegetarians or vegans—it’s a delicious twist that Nicolette is married to Bill Niman, the founder of the Niman Ranch, a collective of traditional farms and ranches in Northern California that raise and treat animals kindly). Niman simply advocates that we care about our food sources so that we all make wise food and eating choices, such as what to look for on labels, why to skip animal products from outside the United States, and what questions to ask when eating out.

Praise for Righteous Porkchop:

“This book is without a doubt the best piece of writing on animal agriculture I have encountered in 25 years of work in animal welfare and agriculture . . . [I]t is a totally captivating read.”—Dr. Bernard E. Rollin, Colorado State University, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Biomedical Sciences, and Animal Sciences

“[B]rims with hope and charts a practical (and even beautiful) path out of the jungle.”—Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food

Please let us know if you would like to receive a desk copy or examination copy of Righteous Porkchop.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Now Available in Paperback—1492: THE YEAR THE WORLD BEGAN by Felipe Fernández-Armesto

1492:  THE YEAR THE WORLD BEGAN by Felipe Fernández-Armesto

“The world would end in 1492—so the prophets, soothsayers, and stargazers said. They were right. Their world did end. Ours began.”—From 1492: The Year the World Began by Felipe Fernández-Armesto

1492: The Year the World Began is a look at one of the most fascinating years in world history, the year when many believe the modern world was born. Everything changed in 1492: the way power and wealth were distributed around the globe, the way major religions and civilizations divided the world, and the increasing interconnectedness of separate economies that we now call globalization.

Historian Felipe Fernández-Armesto, who is the William P. Reynolds Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame, covers such iconic figures as Christopher Columbus and Alexander Borgia and explores cultures as diverse as that of Spain, China, and Africa to tell your students the story of 1492, a momentous year whose lessons are still relevant today.

Praise for 1492:

“In this admirable history, Fernández-Armesto has written a book of travels not unlike those of Marco Polo, filled with marvels and sensations, rich in description and replete with anecdote. 1492 is a compendium of delights.”—The Times (London)

Please let us know if you would like to receive a desk copy or an examination copy of 1492.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Resources in the Fight to Stop Bullying

THE BULLY, THE BULLIED, AND THE BYSTANDER by Barbara ColorosoRecent headlines have brought stories of one tragedy after another as a result of bullying. It seems as if everyone is talking and thinking about bullying and how serious an issue it is in our society. Schools are constantly doing every thing they can to counteract this phenomenon but educators across the country are left craving more advice on ways to put this behavior to an end. Two of our powerful titles on the subject of bullying are valuable resources for educators, administrators, and parents alike.

Barbara Coloroso’s The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander: From Preschool to High School—How Parents and Teachers Can Help Break the Cycle is a groundbreaking and trusted guide on bullying. Drawing on her decades of work with troubled youth, Coloroso helps teachers understand
  • What bullying is—and what it isn’t
  • How to read subtle clues that a child is being bullied
  • Seven steps to take if a child is being bullied
  • Four abilities that help protect a child from succumbing to bullying
  • Why zero tolerance policies can equal zero thinking
  • Why contempt, not anger, drives bullying, and how to confront this in bullies)

This title is an essential component of any anti-bullying school effort and serves as a valuable resource to school personnel, parents, and guardians in this struggle.

Another important work is Letters to a Bullied Girl: Messages of Healing and Hope by Olivia Gardner, Sarah Buder, and Emily Buder.The result of a tragic event in the life of Olivia, a 14-year-old student, this eye-opening book is a startling look at the long-term impact bullying can have. After having a seizure in front of her classmates, Olivia was bullied mercilessly; the impact this had on her was predictably crushing. Emily and Sarah Buder, sisters and classmates of Olivia, asked the rest of the school to write letters to her in an effort to raise her spirits. As a result of media attention, the simple plan to collect a few letters of encouragement grew to near 3,000 “Dear Olivia” emails and handwritten notes. What is most powerful about the collection of letters found in Letters to a Bullied Girl is that they are written not only by those who have been bullied, but by those who have bullied themselves or have been a bystander to bullying taking place. This text, in addition to the extensive curriculum guide available, is sure to go a long way towards changing the culture of a school community and its views on bullying.

As recent events have shown, students can and have been bullied for practically any aspect of who they are, including their sexual orientation. Eric Marcus’ Is It a Choice: Answers to the Most Frequently Asked Questions About Gay & Lesbian People provides insightful and no-nonsense answers to commonly asked questions about homosexuality. This is yet another valuable resource for educators to stop bullying of students because of their sexual orientation.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions.