As educators at all levels continue to adapt to an ever-changing educational landscape, ranging from distance-learning practices to varying hybrid models to being fully back in-person, Penguin Random House (PRH) Education has helped them meet their evolving challenges. We’ve developed new and exciting teacher-curated resources for the classroom and we continue to bring attention to our titles and authors at educational conferences, in a fully virtual presentation.
With access to Covid-19 relief funding, schools have been assessing how they can replenish and bring more books into their classrooms. To address this particular need, PRH Education launched Classroom Libraries earlier this year to support students, teachers, and schools in promoting choice and volume in reading and developing a reading culture both in and out of the classroom. In collaboration with renowned educator and literacy expert Laura Robb, we developed diverse and inclusive independent reading libraries and instructional reading libraries for grades PreK to 8. In addition to being ordered directly from PRH, the Classroom Libraries will also soon be available through many of the major educational distributors.
Access to books is the key to learning to read and to reading proficiently and with joy, and these Classroom Libraries reflect PRH Education’s dedication to fostering a universal passion for reading. That dedication also led members of our team to venture out to hand-deliver our new Classroom Libraries directly to P.S. 273 Wortman in Brooklyn, New York, serving grades PreK to 5. The school reached out to us to help support their students’ literacy growth earlier in the summer. When we learned they had no staff to move books into the building, we gathered a small team of PRH volunteers, who, on a rainy Monday morning, unloaded the shipment at the school and unpacked the books.
Another adjustment to our changing market is how we manage academic conferences—a prime example being the Annual Conference on the First-Year Experience® (FYE). This conference, run through the University of South Carolina and now in its fortieth year, has historically been a key opportunity to market our titles to those who make selections for their schools’ common reading programs. In the past, we’ve enjoyed a large presence in the exhibit hall, where our booth, full of carefully organized title selections and meaningful conversations with staff, was always the center of attention. Over the years we have also hosted catered dinners and luncheons showcasing our authors to hundreds of administrators, faculty, and students involved in selecting titles for their campus programs. As many programs invite authors to speak to the students, this was a perfect opportunity to preview the authors in person. We also put copies of our books into the hands of people who would be making key decisions.
In 2021, this became a fully virtual meeting. Wanting to provide an experience that was as close to being in-person as possible, PRH Education created a virtual booth on our commonreads.com site, which served as a landing page where attendees could explore new and perennial favorite title selections and review our latest guides along with other resources. We presented fifteen authors in three virtual events accessible to anyone registered for the conference. Those who attended received complimentary digital access to every title presented. While we hosted fewer events at the virtual conference, we were able to offer up authors—such as Ta-Nehisi Coates, Isabel Wilkerson, and Erin Brockovich—who likely would not have been able to attend an in-person conference. After the conference, the Education Sales team was able to immediately begin working on leads generated as a direct result of book discovery at the event.
Our continued dedication to educators and the vital work they do every single day fuels our ability to quickly adapt and pivot to the needs of our market. Although that work is always in flux, PRH Education will remain a stable source of support and collaboration as we navigate the upcoming school year and beyond.
Luis Diaz is Content Marketing Manager, Education for Penguin Random House