Maya Angelou’s Song

Celebrated American poet, author, and civil rights advocate Maya Angelou died this past Wednesday, May 28, at the age of 86. Maya Angelou embraced life. She was the first African-American female cable car driver in San Francisco, a teenage mother, an editor (in Egypt!), an actress and producer, and a professor.  Angelou’s life included abuse […]

The Poetry of E.E. Cummings

The American poet E.E. Cummings (yes, capitalized) was an accomplished painter, and in that vein his poetry is very much a verbal painting written for both the eyes and the ears. He was not the most critically acclaimed poet of his time, but his works were enormously popular; At the time of his death in […]

Literature and the Arts: Movies Bring Classics to Life

For generations, we have enjoyed watching our favorite children’s books come alive on the movie screen. Walt Disney mastered the art of animating with such classics as Cinderella, Snow White, and The Little Mermaid, while the more recent releases of the Harry Potter series and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory carry the themes forward with live […]


Appalachian Spring: An Artistic Collaboration

Each year the American Library Association (ALA) recognizes outstanding contributions in the field of children’s literature. Many people are familiar with the Caldecott Award for a picture book, and the Newberry Award for a work of children’s literature; however, the ALA also recognizes works in other categories of children’s literature. The Siebert Informational Book Award […]


FREE! Great Gatsby and the (New) American Dream

FREE! Literary classics often provide Hollywood with storylines. The 2013 release of a Baz Luhrman’s new film adaptation of The Great Gatsby provides a new lens through which readers may examine this classic book. The Great Gatsby is a perennial favorite in high school American literature courses. The hero (or anti-hero), Jay Gatsby, simultaneously chases […]


Heart-pounding Literature Apro-Poe for Halloween

In the realm of high school English classes, a commonplace trigger that prompts students to read classic literary pieces is usually teacher prodding. An exception to this exercise is the work of Edgar Allen Poe. His writing is brilliantly spooky, and often musters interest by the most indifferent of students. Poe’s multi-dimensional horror is a […]

Reading Nonfiction

Take the grunting and groaning out of reading nonfiction. Help students build their nonfiction reading muscles. Students often complain that reading nonfiction is unwieldy, unpleasant, difficult. Instead, many readers are drawn to fiction. Older ELA curricula support this by focusing on fiction and prose, and including only narrative nonfiction, such as biographies. Other nonfiction, including […]


The Online Diary of Anne Frank

This March—Women’s History Month—revisit one of the twentieth century’s most influential works authored by a female—The Diary of Anne Frank. Listed among the best books of the century by, The New York Public Library, The Guardian, and The National Review, The Diary of Anne Frank is a complex and important text. It is at […]


The Hobbit’s Journey to Your Classroom

Bilbo Baggins’ under-dog adventure has seduced readers and non-readers for years. In December, part 2 of The Hobbit’s trilogy opens in theaters – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. On January 3, fans will remember author J.R. Tolkien’s and celebrate what would have been his 121st birthday. The Hobbit is a teacher’s dream: The Hobbit appeals to […]

D’Oh! Teaching with The Simpsons

What American television family has entertained, mocked, and shocked Americans for the past 23 years? The Simpsons! Few would have predicted when The Simpsons debuted on December 17, 1989, that it would endure to be the longest-running American sitcom in television history, and the longest-running show in primetime. The Simpsons—Bart, Marge, Homer, Lisa, and Maggie—may […]

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