Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Worlds Apart

In anticipation of her upcoming book Midnight in Broad Daylight, author Pamela Rotner Sakamoto has created a short video to introduce readers to the Fukuhara family.  During the Depression, the members of the family wind up separated between Japan and America.  World War II solidifies that separation as the boys find themselves on opposite sides of a worldwide conflict.

Everything changes when an atomic bomb is dropped on Hiroshima.

You can watch Pamela's video below.

Midnight in Broad Daylight goes on sale January 5, 2016.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Discovering Hidden History

Last week, Kenneth C. Davis, author of Don’t Know Much About History, was featured on Maine National Public Radio.  Davis—who has devoted his career to discovering the truth behind the myths and fallacies of history—discussed how the most fascinating and sometimes troubling parts of history aren't taught in the classroom. You can listen to the full show here.

For more information on Kenneth C. Davis and his works, you can visit his website.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Read Like a Detective!

We're delighted to share this video from Justin Smith, a teacher at Democracy Prep in NYC.  Justin talks about a school-wide event that got his students excited to read Agatha Christie, introduced them to the mystery genre, and showed them how to read like detectives.  

If your school has done an innovative project for one of Agatha Christie’s books, please let us know!

For more Agatha Christie resources, check out our page on Agatha Christie.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

You Could Win a Classroom Set of A PEOPLE'S HISTORY!

The Zinn Education Project is offering teachers the exciting opportunity to win a classroom set (35 copies) of the new 35th anniversary edition of Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States.  Teachers looking to enter the contest, which lasts until November 30, can find more information here.

The Zinn Education Project, inspired by Zinn's People's History, encourages teaching middle and high school students about United States history in engaging and dynamic ways.  They offer free downloadable lesson plans and other resources for teachers of American history.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Mary Karr Interviews Father James Martin About His Debut Novel, THE ABBEY

Father James Martin, the revered Jesuit priest and New York Times bestselling author of Jesus and The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, has written a captivating, poignant, and often funny debut novel in the tradition of the spiritual classics The Shack and The Screwtape Letters.
To learn more about the novel, its inspiration, and the writing process, please view Mary Karr's wonderful interview with Father Martin below.

Monday, October 12, 2015

BEASTS OF NO NATION Film To Be Released This Week

The much-anticipated film adaptation of Uzodinma Iweala’s riveting novel Beasts of No Nation hits Netflix and selected theaters this week. You can see the trailer below. 
Iweala’s short but enormously powerful novel is told in the voice of Agu, a young boy in an unnamed West African nation, who is recruited into a unit of guerrilla fighters as civil war engulfs his country. A strikingly original narrative that vividly captures Agu’s youth and confusion, this story will give students the opportunity to explore current issues with a deep complexity and humanity.
“The hypnotic present tense, first-person narration draws the reader deep into the child soldier’s shattered psyche.”—The Washington Post

Beasts of No Nation has been adopted as a freshman common read at Kalamazoo College and in literature and politics courses throughout the country.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Author Kristen Green Visits Her Alma Mater

Kristen Green, author of Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County, writes about returning to her alma mater and sharing her story with students:

"This fall, I visited my alma mater, University of Mary Washington, in Fredericksburg, Va. to give a lecture about my new book, Something Must Be Done about Prince Edward County. It was so meaningful to return to the place where I found my voice, the place where I learned to question authority, the place where I realized that I wanted to be a journalist and writer. I particularly enjoyed talking with the students who work as reporters and editors for the student newspaper, as I did in college. 

I was also proud to share the story of my hard-won success with Mary Washington students. I loved being able to tell them about the years I spent toiling as a reporter at small-town newspapers and working my way up to big city newspapers. I loved telling them about my seed of an idea for a book and about the decade I spent making it happen through sheer determination. It was important to me to encourage them to question the white-washed view of history we are often taught, to acknowledge our shameful pasts, and to use their time in college to make friends across racial and ethnic lines."

To learn more about Kristen Green, visit her website.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Announcing Regina Calcaterra's New Book

Regina Calcaterra’s New York Times-bestselling memoir Etched in Sand: A True Story of Five Siblings Who Survived an Unspeakable Childhood on Long Island continues to get great pick up in common read programs across the country.
In conjunction with these programs, Calcaterra will be speaking at a number of schools this fall—everywhere from middle schools to colleges, including Whitestone Middle School in Queens and Hesston College in Kansas. She has also been invited back to Suffolk County Community College in New York. 
Since the release of Etched in Sand in August 2013, Calcaterra has taken advantage of over 150 opportunities to speak to readers across the US. Her appearances have included libraries, not for profits and academic institutions like St. Petersburg College in Florida, the State University of New York at New Paltz and Stony Brook, Hunter College, Concordia College, and Clarkson College. She has also spoken at many high schools and middle schools, including twice at Lacey Township High School in New Jersey, where the administration has hundreds of students read the book annually. Some educators have even developed teaching guides to incorporate Etched in Sand into their curriculum, which can be found here

In light of the wonderful academic response to her first memoir, we’re very excited to announce that Calcaterra will be publishing another book with HarperCollins. Calcaterra's next book chronicles the journey of her youngest sister Rosie after their abusive and alcoholic mother removed her from a foster home in New York and unwillingly dragged her all the way to Idaho—far away from her older sisters who had watched over her. Without her older sisters protecting her, Rosie's journey was one of isolation. She had to rely upon her own strength as she learned how to navigate the treacherous landscape of an abusive parent and other unforeseen dangers, while also being forced to labor as a farm hand beginning at the age of ten. Like Etched in Sand, Rosie's story is one of hope, resilience, perseverance and how acts of kindness towards children in need can forever impact them. 

Monday, September 14, 2015


We're very excited to announce that McLean School in Maryland has adopted Jessica Lahey's The Gift of Failure for their faculty's Academic Reading Group.  In addition, for the first time this year, McLean is extending the invitation to parents as well.  They will hold two discussions about the book, culminating with a talk given by the author in November.  Given the overprotectiveness that parents often display currently, The Gift of Failure delivers a very important message for anyone who has a hand in nurturing children.

Parents want their children to succeed.  However, through the very best of intentions, parents often wind up sabotaging their own children's chances at long-term success.  Jessica Lahey delivers the ultimate manifesto about this paradox in The Gift of Failure.  By rushing to their children's defense and fighting their battles for them, parents are doing their children a disservice by preventing them from failing.  It is through failure that we gain wisdom, determination, and a renewed appreciation for the end goal.

The book deals primarily with parents, but if you're a teacher, you know that your students sometimes feel like your children, and you want to maximize their chances at success.  Lahey's message applies to teachers as well as parents.  Rather than scold overprotective parents, she offers strategies on how to be supportive while leaving room for failure and, ultimately, growth.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Follow Our Agatha Christie Master Teacher

Stephanie Owens, our Agatha Christie Master Teacher, has started blogging! Follow her new Tumblr here for Christie teaching tips, lesson plans, and reports from the International Agatha Christie Festival, which she's attending over the next week in England. 

And for more Christie teaching resources, please click here

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Treaty of Paris

On this day in history in 1783, The Treaty of Paris was signed.  Among other concessions, the treaty included Britain's formal recognition of the United States of America as an independent nation.  This marked the end of the Revolutionary War, although hostilities had ceased over a year earlier.

For further reading, Michael Stephenson's Patriot Battles offers an extensive look at the Revolutionary War.  Stephenson delves into how wars were fought in the eighteenth century as well as the details of the major battles that ultimately led to the American victory at Yorktown in 1782.

Monday, August 24, 2015

How to Read Bestsellers Like a Professor

Congratulations to Thomas C. Foster's How to Read Literature Like a Professor, which has been climbing the New York Times Education Bestseller list!  With over a million copies sold, it's currently sitting in the #2 spot.  Foster's book tells you how to do exactly what the title suggests: read literature like a professor.  Studying classic themes and drawing on renowned authors as examples, Foster creates a guide on getting the most out of a reading experience, leaving no detail overlooked.  How to Read Literature Like a Professor has been an invaluable resource to both teachers and students, helping them to look at literature with a more critical and discerning eye.  It gives readers the tools to unearth a richer reading, whether that reading is for academia or pleasure.

For the movie buffs out there, Foster is hard at work on his next book, this time on how to read the silver screen!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Michael Kimmel and the Growth of Masculinites Studies Programs

The New York Times recently published an article “A Master’s Degree in . . . Masculinity?”, which examined the growth of university masculinities studies programs, and profiled the professor at its vanguard, Michael Kimmel. Kimmel is the author of Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men, and the founder and director of the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities at Stony Brook University, which will soon start the first master’s degree program in “masculinities studies.”
Not to be confused with “male studies” (whose proponents largely think Kimmel is too “anti-men” for their taste), masculinities studies looks at the ways in which our culture has created a crisis of masculinity—with devastating effects including mental illness, suicide, terrorism, rape, mass shootings, and police brutality. Dr. Kimmel’s ultimate goal, as he puts it, is “engaging men and boys for gender equality.”
To read the rest of the New York Times article, please click here.
And to check out Guyland, which has been used in courses and common read programs across the country, please click here. 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

A Tragic Anniversary

Today marks a tragic day in world history: 70 years ago, an atomic bomb (code named "Little Boy") was dropped from an American plane on Hiroshima, Japan.  Three days later, on August 9th, a similar bomb (this one bearing the code name "Fat Man") was dropped on the Japanese city of Nagasaki.  The exact death toll is still unknown, but well over 200,000 people died as a result of these bombings.  Many of those deaths were immediate, while others would die over time due to the effects of radiation.

For further reading about this ominous chapter in world history, Stephen Walker's Shockwave provides a gripping account of the events leading up to Hiroshima, while Stephen M. Younger's The Bomb gives a chilling history of the nuclear age.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Pope Francis and Your Students

For those teaching at Catholic schools, Pope Francis’s first ever US visit is certain to be a major event for you and your students.  Over the course of less than a week, he’ll speak to politicians, hold meetings, and preside over masses (talk about a whirlwind trip!).  Here's the pope's official travel schedule:

September 22-24: Washington, DC
September 24-25: New York, NY
September 26-27: Philadelphia, PA

A great starting point for class discussion is to read the interview Pope Francis provided six months into his papacy to America magazine.  Translated with the utmost care, the resulting interview covers everything from his ideas for church reform to his taste in movies.  The full interview is now available in book form, entitled A Big Heart Open to God.  The book also contains an introduction by the editor-in-chief of America magazine, Matt Malone, as well as a spiritual reflection on the interview by popular Jesuit priest and author James Martin.

Father Martin, like Pope Francis, is a Jesuit. In his book, Jesus, Father Martin brings 21st-century Catholics closer to Jesus by helping them re-experience the stories of the Gospels in a completely new and vivid way.   Jesus is a delightfully Jesuit take on a biblical figure often viewed as distant and shrouded in mystery.  It makes a wonderful companion to any discussion about Pope Francis, for it does what the pope is trying to do, both in his work and in his US visitbringing Catholicism to the people in an accessible and modern format.

Monday, August 3, 2015

A Map That Changed the World

200 years ago today, geologist William Smith published the first geological map of Britain.  Using color, he was able to accurately depict the various rock formations, both horizontally and vertically.  For years, he traveled Britain, surveying the land and taking extensive notes.  This culminated in "the map that changed the world," which was published in 1815.  Despite his profound contribution to the field of geology, Smith spent much of his life unrecognized for his work.  He was plagiarized, cheated, and even spent time in debtors' prison.  It would be fifteen years before he would be awarded the honors he deserved, as well as a lifetime pension.

For more information on Smith's story and the effects it had on modern geology, be sure to check out The Map That Changed the World by Simon Winchester!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Happy Birthday Herman Melville!

Saturday marked the 196th birthday of celebrated author Herman Melville! Although he is widely regarded as a great classic writer today, Melville was not so appreciated in his lifetime.  His first novel, Typee, was a large success.  However, the work he is perhaps best known for today, Moby Dick, was not nearly as well received.  In fact, it was considered a commercial failure at the time.  He went on to write several short stories, including the well-known Bartleby, the Scrivener, but the spark of fame he received early in his career was never rekindled in his lifetime.

Around his 100th birthday, interest in Melville reignited, and a new generation grew to appreciate his work, elevating him to the honored position he holds in the literary world today.  Nearly 100 years later, Herman Melville holds his own with other enduring literary giants such as Charles Dickens and Louisa May Alcott, and his "commercial failure" Moby Dick is universally considered a classic novel.  Whether it's Moby Dick or one of his lesser known works, commemorate Herman Melville's birthday with a good book!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Nadia Hashimi speaks to AAUW group about "The Pearl That Broke Its Shell"

Nadia Hashimi, author of The Pearl That Broke Its Shell, recently spoke with the Naperville Area Branch of the American Association of University Women in Illinois about the subjugation of females in her book.  Members had read The Pearl The Broke Its Shell, and were pleased to have the opportunity to meet with Nadia to discuss her work and the issues she talks about in it.

AAUW focuses heavily on pushing and empowering women through education, so Nadia's work invited fruitful and relevant discussion on the role of women, both what it is and what it should be.  The group said that, "although most of the time they felt sad and very concerned about the outcome for each character, there is an element of hope at the end of each woman’s story that mitigates the sorrow."

Nadia continues her involvement with AAUW in the fall, when she will be a guest speaker at a luncheon.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Obituary for the Pulitzer Prize-Winning Poet James Tate

Prolific poet James Tate passed away last Friday at the age of 71. You can read the full New York Times obituary here.
Often praised for his simplicity, and his ability to find the comedy in tragic scenes, Tate won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992 for Selected Poems, a collection culled from 9 volumes of his poetry. Then, in 1994, he was awarded the National Book Award for his collection Worshipful Company of Fletchers. The next year the Academic of American Poets honored him with the Wallace Stevens Award. He taught poetry at several universities, including Berkeley, Columbia, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he remained since 1971, and where his wife also taught. 

His seventeenth collection of poetry, Dome of the Hidden Pavilion, will be published by Ecco in August. You can preorder it here

Click here to hear Tate reading one of his earliest and most famous poems, "The Lost Pilot." 
And to see more of Tate's work, please visit our new online poetry catalog here

Friday, July 10, 2015

Read the First Chapter of Harper Lee's GO SET A WATCHMAN!

Today, the first chapter of Harper Lee's Go Set A Watchman was released in the Wall Street Journal! Read it (or listen to Reese Witherspoon's audiobook narration) here

The much-anticipated book will be released next Tuesday in full! You can pre-order it here

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Richard Blanco Launches "Bridges to/from Cuba"

Inaugural poet Richard Blanco just launched Bridges to/from Cuba, a writing project intended to lift what he calls Cuba’s “emotional embargo.” He and his co-creator, Ruth Behar, were prompted by what they feel is a distorted image of Cuba that has emerged in the wake of the recent, historic d├ętente between the US and Cuba.
"I think what we want to do is broaden people's minds, both Cuban-Americans and Cubans on the island," Blanco said. "Giving them things to think about: How emotionally we move forward, and each other's responsibility to each other's stories and how we can merge those stories."
Blanco’s wonderful memoir, The Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood, explores his coming-of-age as the child of Cuban immigrants and his attempts to understand his place in America while grappling with his burgeoning artistic and sexual identities. It was recently chosen as Florida International University’s freshman common read. 
Click here to see a video of Richard speaking about growing up between cultures at the 2015 FYE annual conference

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Ecco Publisher Dan Halpern Honored With the 2015 Maxwell E. Perkins Award

Dan Halpern, Publisher and President of Ecco, was just named the recipient of its 2015 Maxwell E. Perkins Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Field of Fiction—an award that recognizes an editor, publisher, or agent who over the course of his or her career has discovered, nurtured, and championed writers of fiction in the United States.
Dan is the author of nine collections of poetry, most recently Something Shining. For 25 years, Halpern edited the international literary magazine Antaeus, which he founded in Tangier with Paul Bowles. He has received many grants and awards, including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, and taught at Columbia University, The New School, and Princeton University. In 1978, he founded The National Poetry Series with James A. Michener, which oversees the publication of five books of poetry every year.  
Among the authors he has worked with at both Ecco and Antaeus are Cormac McCarthyLouise GluckRichard FordAnthony BourdainJoyce Carol OatesAmy TanTom RobbinsJorie GrahamPhilipp MeyerLeonard Cohen, Lawrence Durrell, John FowlesRussell BanksRobert StonePatti SmithTobias WolffCharles SimicItalo CalvinoPaul Bowles, Pete Dexter, Gay TaleseErica JongVendela VidaT.C. BoyleJorge Luis BorgesJohn Ashbery, William Burroughs, William T. Vollmann, Tennessee Williams, Nell Freudenberger, Mark Strand, Natasha Trethewey, and many others.
Please join us in congratulating Dan on this much-deserved achievement!