As we begin a school year unlike any other, Penguin Random House Education is dedicated to working with educators as they adapt to a shifting landscape. Read on to learn about what PRH Education is doing to meet the needs of teachers and students alike during this time.
With the introduction of mixed learning environments, new and necessary conversations about race and racial inequity, and increasing social emotional pressures on today’s students, PRH Education has risen to the challenge of meeting educators and students where they are and creating offerings that directly address the challenges at hand. As with many of our initiatives, the first step is to connect with educators to find out what they are thinking so that we might better help serve them as they work with students.
To that end, during the early part of the summer, we convened virtual meetings with our three teacher advisory boards (elementary, middle school, and high school) to hear directly from them as they completed one unpredictable school year and began to look forward to what was likely to be an uncertain return in the fall. In response to their shared concerns, thoughts, and insights, we strategized and developed new products and offerings to help support teachers, parents, and caregivers as they and their students began to move forward in unfamiliar terrain.
Tackling the Mixed Learning Environment
One project we executed was a collaboration with DK Publishing, a PRH imprint and a brand trusted by parents and teachers for accessible and valuable educational content. With some students partaking in virtual schooling, others going in to school, and still others partaking in a hybrid model of virtual and in-person learning, there was great need for a portable learning tool. We created a series of multi-subject compendium workbooks at the elementary level as a “grab-and-go“ tool for students to bring home and keep pace. These core-subject activities—aligned with curriculums—are designed to help students when they are not physically in school and act as a sort of full school day bound into one book.
Tools for Discussing Antiracism
Our teacher advisors also discussed the big challenges and opportunities they encounter when tackling questions about racial inequity and antiracism, particularly in light of the ongoing national conversations about our history and current events. To better aid them and provide tools to guide those discussions, we commissioned two renowned educators to create introductory antiracist primers—one for parents and caregivers of young children, and one for parents and caregivers of teenagers—featuring topical discussion questions with PRH book recommendations at the center of the conversation. These guides are now being distributed nationwide.
Materials for Social Emotional Learning
Lastly, our advisors noted the increase in need for books and materials in support of Social Emotional Learning (SEL). This one falls right in our wheelhouse, as we believe that keeping students engaged and reading is vitally important to ensure that they enter and actively participate in society with empathy, compassion, and knowledge. To better support this goal, we created the Marvelous Middle Grade Reads program: a rich collection of twenty-four diverse middle grade paperback books from Random House Children’s Books and Penguin Young Readers, packed with supporting lesson plans for each title, written by the educator-librarian duo at museable.org. We also developed the Teacher’s Pets collection, an engaging and relevant sampling of books featuring well-known characters. Our website is home to these and many more collection and lists, organized by subject and topic.
All of these efforts are ultimately made possible by our connections and dialogues with educators. We look forward to continuing to collaborate with educators on behalf of our books and authors and support the important work they are doing with their students, both in this school year and beyond.
Luis Diaz is Manager, Education Marketing at Penguin Random House.