Category Archives: High School Adoptions

The Last Town on Earth goes to high school

Common reads aren’t just for college freshmen!

Central Catholic High School in Toledo, Ohio has chosen The Last Town on Earth by Thomas Mullen as a campus-wide read. The book, however, is not new to the campus. After hearing about it at nearby Bowling Green State University (where it also has been used as common reading) two years ago, a teacher elected to use the historical novel, which poses ethical questions following the quarantine of a small town during the 1918 flu pandemic, in his classroom each semester. Students even engaged in “Q&A” discussions with the author via e-mail.

Watch the video of Thomas Mullen speaking at the Sixth Annual First-Year Experience Conference in Denver, Colorado here!

The Last Town on Earth is not the only Random House book to make it into high school classrooms. First-Year Experience favorites Mountains Beyond Mountains, Lay That Trumpet in Our Hands, and Funny in Farsi are just a few others with roots in secondary education.

Has common reading made it to your area high schools? What are the high schoolers in your life reading?


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Students find inspiration in The Road of Lost Innocence during humanitarian trip to Cambodia

A couple of months ago we brought you news that West Texas A&M University has selected Somaly Mam’s memoir, The Road of Lost Innocence for use in their common reading program. Mam was sold into sexual slavery at the age of six but harrowingly escaped and now devotes her time and energy to helping others throughout her native Cambodia and other countries.

Last month, parents in the city of Cambridge, Massachussetts (inspired by Mam’s memoir as well as another popular common reading title, Cups of Tea) decided to raise money to help build a school in rural Cambodia in a project they dubbed Camb2Camb. Eight junior high and high school students were selected for a trip to the country through an application process. Prior to departure they researched topics they might encounter while in Cambodia such as  human trafficking, women’s rights, and the Khmer Rouge tribunals. The Road of Lost Innocence became pre-trip required reading.

While in Cambodia, students engaged in a number of activities including a dinner with Mam during which she spoke about her experiences as a sex slave and how she has helped free others.

The high school students kept online blogs during their trips. “I CAN’T STOP SMILING!” wrote Violet Brooks-Doucette. “Everyday I reflect on what we did and I say to myself, ‘today was the greatest day of my life,’ then the next day I say the exact same thing!”

For more information on the Camb2Camb project, read this article from Wicked Local Cambridge.

Want to inspire your students and promote service to others? E-mail for a list of useful titles that are great for common reading programs.


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Lay That Trumpet in Our Hands a nationwide common read!


2003 Chautauqua South Fiction Award winner

2003 San Diego Magazine’s Book Award for Fiction

2002 Deadly Pleasures’ Best U.S. First Novel

Inspired by real events, Lay That Trumpet in Our Hands is a novel that tackles race politics in the pre-Civil Rights South unlike any other book in recent memory.

A wise and luminous story about a northern family, a souther town, and the senseless murder that sparks an extraordinary act of courage, the book is told from the point of view of a little girl who is witness to the lynching of a black man. From the arrival of noteworthy figures such as Thurgood Marshall, the NAACP, and Mr. Hoover’s FBI, to the expressed opinions and actions of the everyday town citizen, Lay That Trumpet In Our Hands will give students a solid sense of the events, people and national mood of this volatile and chaotic period in American history.

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Over 40 programs have followed Enrique’s Journey!

enriques journey

When Enrique was just five years old, his mother Lourdes, seeing no other way out of their poverty in Honduras, decided to make the hazardous trek north. Enrique and his siblings struggled without their mother, until he finally made his way from the rough streets of Tegucigalpa through Mexico and across the dangerous Texan border. Nazario’s expert reporting allows students to encounter each setback alongside Enrique, and the result is as suspenseful and harrowing as it is informative. Enrique’s Journey is a timely account of one anguished family’s experience with an issue of international scope and urgency–illegal immigration–but is also a timeless, mythic story of a dangerous journey undertaken to make a broken family whole.

“This portrait of poverty and family ties has the poential to reshape American conversations about immigration.” – Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

The following universities and programs have adopted this book:

Colleges and Universities:
Bluffton University (Bluffton, OH)
Central College (Pella, IA)
Edgewood College (Madison,WI)
Florida Southern College (Lakeland, FL)
Fort Lewis College (Durango, CO)
Gustavus Adolphus College (St. Peter, MN)
Henderson State University (Arkadelphia, AR)
Idaho State University (Pocatello, ID)
Indiana University (Kokomo, IN)
University of Missouri (Kansas City,MO)
College of Mount St. Joseph (Cincinnati,OH)
Northern Arizona University (Flagstaff, AZ)
University of North Carolina (Charlotte, NC)
University of North Carolina (Greensboro, NC)
Notre Dame de Namur University (Belmont, CA)
Peace College (Raleigh,NC)
Pennsylvania State University (Harrisburg, PA)
Rockhurst University (Kansas City,MO)
Sonoma State University (Rohnert Park, CA)
Valparaiso University (Valparaiso, IN)

High Schools:
Bay Shore High School (Bay Shore,NY)
Bonanza High School (Las Vegas, NV)
Burlingame High School (Burlingame, CA)
Challenge Early College High School (Houston, TX)
Eaglecrest High School (Centennial, CO)
Hudson High School (Hudson, OH)
La Jolla Country Day School (La Jolla, CA)
Middletown High School (Middletown, NJ)
Putnam County High School (Eatonton, GA)
Santa Ana High School (Santa Ana, CA)
Santa Monica High School (Santa Monica, CA)
St. Ignatius High School (Cleveland, OH)
Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School (Bourne,MA)
Wheeling High School (Wheeling, IL)

One City,One Book”:

Glendale, CA
San Diego, CA
Santa Fe Springs, CA
Yuma, AZ


Learn more about Enrique and his story on the book’s website.

Read an excerpt of the book here.

Teacher’s Guide Available

Order an Examination Copy here.

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