How To Live a Life That Matters: Maya Angelou on Love and Attitude

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Maya Angelou was born on April 4, 1928 and is true to the title of her own poem, a “Phenomenal Woman.” Few people can say they have been a novelist, actress, singer, director, scholar, researcher, poet, and brothel madam, yet Angelou has filled all of these roles and many more, including being an integral part of the civil rights movement.

Decades after her time on Earth, many of us still hold I Know Why the Caged Bird SingsAnd Still I Rise“Amazing Peace,” and her other works close to our hearts. As a survivor of poverty, familial discord, and a harrowing childhood, Angelou was able to turn her remarkable, tumultuous life into creative inspiration that is still inspiring us today. Continue Reading ›

A Fun Introduction to History: Books That Give an Insight to Days Gone By

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Books are passports to other worlds, no matter how cheesy that sounds. With that in mind, there’s something particularly fascinating about works of fiction that take encompass times and events that really occurred. That isn’t to say that novels taking place outside the realm of real life aren’t wonderful—they are, but to be able to pick up a book and see what it was truly like to live as an average person during, say, the reign of King Henry VIII and the break with the Catholic Church? Well, that is something the average person would never be able to do without the help of author-historians. Continue Reading ›

Wonderful Wanderlust: Books that Make You Want to go Places

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Travel is one of the most wonderful experiences granted to us – what other creature can say (relatively on a whim) that they want a change of scenery and to experience something new? With the potential exception of migratory birds, not many. So what influences us to want to see the sights? Often, it’s hearing about grand adventures or seeing pictures of some far-off land. But there is another medium that gives us an itch to get going: literature, books, stories, etc. Reading the story of a life somewhere far, far away makes us yearn to see the places the author describes.

That being said, it is important to note that not everything happening in all countries is peachy. Many books (set in the U.S. and around the world) focus on the strife and turmoil happening within those borders, and it’s relatively impossible and perhaps irresponsible to make a booklist that ignores drama and conflict. So please, enjoy the following list, make some travel plans, learn some stuff, and stay safe out there! Continue Reading ›

Owl Eyes Annotated Texts: A Great Resource to Add to Your Teacher Toolbox  

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The beginning of a new season is always a good time to consider new ways to engage students in the classroom. One way to do it—only a few keyboard clicks away—is to incorporate Owl Eyes annotated texts into lesson plans and instruction.

In case you’re unfamiliar with using the annotated texts at Owl Eyes, here are a few things to know to get started. First of all, they’re free, and they’re comprehensive! At Owl Eyes you will find hundreds of poems, short stories, novels, and essays to which instructional annotations have been added throughout the texts—and hundreds of additional annotated works are on the way. Continue Reading ›

Literary Nostalgia: A Few Favorite Reads from Over the Decades

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One of the best things about books is that they can be about anything. Anything. There are post-apocalyptic stories dating all the way back to ancient times, and a lot of those wild and crazy stories about medieval kings and primordial gods are still being read today (thank you, oral tradition). As it happens, some of the best books are also some of the oldest books, and epic poems like The Iliad and The Odyssey never go out of style. Continue Reading ›

8 “To Kill a Mockingbird” Quotes that Exemplify Harper Lee’s Legacy

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As the sad news of Harper Lee‘s passing hit us and the rest of the literary crowd this morning, we’ve decided to compile some of the best lines from To Kill a Mockingbirdinarguably one of the most influential and important novels in our lifetime. These lines, in context and out, are simultaneously ethereal and grounded, simple and complex.

Lee’s legacy in TKAM will be continuing to show students and readers about the importance of love, tolerance, and friendship. Rest in peace, Harper Lee. Continue Reading ›

Vicious and Delicious: The Best of Literature’s Foulest Characters

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To be sure, some of the best characters in literature are the so-called “good guys,” but let’s face it: these goody-goodies are rarely the most interesting characters in the story. Most of us, most of the time, want to see good triumph over evil in the end, but we’re really interested in what the villains are up to. Think about it: if not for Ursula in “The Little Mermaid,” Ariel would never have even had the chance to get some land-legs; she would’ve stayed a lady-fish and Eric would’ve married a human and had pretty babies.

In honor of these dynamic characters and their questionable motives, enjoy the following list of some of our favorite fictional criminals/murderers/psychopaths from literary history. Continue Reading ›