Tag Archives: Inspiration and Guidance

University of Florida Unveils Outcasts United as Common Reading Book

Earlier in October, Outcasts United by Warren St. John was unveiled as the Common Reading Program book selection for the 2011-12 year.

Becky Burleigh, head coach of the University of Florida’s women’s soccer team, spoke at the event on why she loves Outcasts United. Watch this video to hear why Burleigh feels this title will not only bring the UF campus community together but will also be a great common reading selection for students of all backgrounds.

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Frank Phillips College students will Make the Impossible Possible

Students at Frank Phillips College have a lot to discuss this Fall as they read Make the Impossible Possible: One Man’s Crusade to Inspire Others to Dream Bigger and Achieve the Extraordinary as part of the university’s common reading program.

Previously selected as common reading at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Voorhees College, and Winthrop University, the book has received many accolades including:

“It’s the American dream with a twist: for Strickland, it was never about shedding his past and getting ahead but about following his bliss and making a difference.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Straddling between both autobiographical and inspirational genre, the most exquisite beauty of this book is in its straightforward and heartfelt approach. There are so many imminently quotable lines you can draw from cover to cover. This is the kind of book you’d want to read over and over again, with a marker in hand to annotate it as you read, or with a pen and paper on the side to take down notes. Or even both. For as you share in the struggles and successes of Bill Strickland, Make The Impossible Possible is an inexhaustible wellspring of real-life inspiration.”—Sacramento Book Review

Click here for a list of other universities that have adopted Make the Impossible Possible for common reading.

Watch video of author Bill Strickland speaking at the 2010 Random House, Inc. Author Luncheon, part of the First-Year Experience conference.

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Morrie to Ole Miss: University of Mississippi will read Tuesdays with Morrie

The University of Mississippi has selected First-Year Reading favorite, Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life’s Greatest Lesson, for its common reading program.

The book has been previously selected by Concordia University, SUNY-New Paltz, University of Buffalo,  University of North Dakota, and University of Nevada, Las Vegas, among other colleges. It was also a community read for the “One Book, One Springfield” program in Springfield, Massachussetts.

After learning of his former professor’s terminal illness, author Mitch Albom flew to Brandeis University, reunited with his old friend, and returned every Tuesday thereafter to visit with him. Morrie Schwartz turned these visits into one final “class”: a lesson in how to live. This book chronicles their time together.

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Read Mountains Beyond Mountains this summer.

What are you reading this summer?

The Harvard Crimson recently published a list of recommended summer reading titles for undergraduate students handpicked by college professors and faculty members. Among the books selected is First-Year Experience favorite, Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder. Nancy M. Cline, Roy E. Larsen Librarian of Harvard College says:

This is not a new book. I suggest it now because it is about the work of Paul Farmer and colleagues who worked with him to found Partners in Health, an organization that has grown to have an important impact on several areas of the world. What caused me to return to this book (after first reading it a few years ago) was the earthquake in Haiti. Reading about the extraordinary challenges that Farmer and his team faced in delivering health care and building community-based programs gave considerable insight to the problems that continue to complicate the recovery of Haiti. The story is compelling. It helps one become more attentive to the diverse aspects of different countries’ economic and social conditions, to perhaps better understand why aid sometimes does not work as intended, and to appreciate the generous and proud spirit that can survive amidst poverty.

Now, I’m about to start on Kidder’s more recent book, Strength in What Remains.

The list also features the academic classic The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and The Bible. You can find the entire list here.

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Is Outcasts United your next common read? Check out the new lesson plan!

Is your common reading program considering Outcasts United by Warren St. John? Have you already adopted the book?

Whatever the circumstance, be sure you check out the new Outcasts United college lesson plan. Prepared by an instructor at Georgia Tech University for the school’s use of the book as a common read, the guide is replete with unit ideas based on major themes in the book, chapter breakdowns, project outlines and in-class group work ideas.

Download the lesson plan here and be sure to check out the rest of the Outcasts United website. It also features Author Q&A, book reviews and other resources.

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Highschool, College, and Beyond – Great Books for Your Common Readers & Grads

                   

It’s May and you all know what that means…graduating seniors! Whether they are high schoolers going off to college or college grads entering the workforce, there is no doubt your students will be juggling pearls of wisdom from all sides.

This past Sunday, The Washington Post published a list of “Books for graduates setting out on that next big adventure.” Not your average list (Oh, The Places You’ll Go! is omitted) these books have been hand-selected by recent college grad, Elizabeth Sher,  the gift book-a-month program coordinator at Washington D.C.’s Politics & Prose.

Of the Random House, Inc. books that made the cut, Sher said:

A Hope in the Unseen by Ron Suskind “should be required reading for all high school students heading off to college.” The book follows a young man to the Ivy League.

Bill Strickland’s Make the Impossible Possible “tells of the author’s big dreams, struggles, and successes making his Pittsburgh ghetto a better place.”

Both books already have an excellent track record among universities. A Hope in the Unseen has been selected for common reading at fifteen colleges and universities and was a Maryland state-wide read. Bill Strickland has received honorary degrees from fourteen universities, is a sought-after commencement speaker and has been recognized by Harvard Business School. Make the Impossible Possible has also been selected for common reading at four universities.

Click here to view video of Bill Strickland’s recent talk at the Sixth Annual Random House Author Luncheon during the First-Year Experience Conference in Denver, Colorado.

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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 rhacademic@randomhouse.com for a list of useful titles that are great for common reading programs.

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