Giving Back

Penguin Random House Expands and Extends Its Hurricane Relief Efforts

In the aftermath of the damage and destruction from Hurricane Irma, Penguin Random House continues to provide ongoing support to those U.S. booksellers directly affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, with a direct donation of Penguin Random House bestselling titles to the impacted regions. These booksellers may select our titles from the Independent Bestseller List with a cumulative retail value of up to $1,000 per account. The Independent Bestseller List is compiled weekly by the American Booksellers Association, and includes a broad range of books for all ages available in hardcover and paperback. This opportunity will be available until December 31, 2017.

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Other companywide efforts at Penguin Random House include an unlimited corporate match for all U.S. employee charitable donations for related relief efforts – which has been extended through September 30. We are also making a significant financial contribution to be allocated to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (BINC) and Texas Library Association to provide additional relief for booksellers, schools and libraries in Texas, Florida, and other impacted regions. Penguin Random House is also working closely with BINC on a specially named scholarship designated for affected booksellers. Information regarding the scholarship will be announced through BINC in the coming months. Recently, with the help of The Maryland Performance Diesel organization, Penguin Random House Westminster distribution-center facility employees rallied together and generously donated seven pallets of supplies (including bottled water, non-perishable food items, blankets and toiletries) bound for flood victims in Texas. Penguin Random House also continues its coordinated book donations through various charitable partners, such as First Book, the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation, and the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Soar with Reading: RHCB Brings 100,000 Free Books to Kids in South Florida

Random House Children’s Books and JetBlue have launched the seventh annual Soar with Reading initiative, which provides age-appropriate books to children who need them most. This summer the program lands in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with JetBlue installing four

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custom vending machines throughout the city to distribute 100,000 books, free of charge. The vending machines include a variety of children’s books. The newest enhancements to the program are the addition of bilingual (Spanish/English) books and, given research supporting higher reading scores among students who see their parents reading, the inclusion of a selection of titles appealing to parents.   “We know that access to books is a foundational necessity for children in order for them to achieve success inside and beyond the classroom,” said Barbara Marcus, President and Publisher, Random House Children’s Books. “Books allow children and adults to explore the far reaches of their imaginations, and we are thrilled to be part of the JetBlue program, which provides young people with the opportunity to experience that adventure, regardless of where they live.” To celebrate this year’s Soar with Reading launch, actress and singer Victoria Justice and renowned Magic Tree House author Mary Pope Osborne joined JetBlue, Random House Children’s Books, and the city of Fort Lauderdale at a celebration to reveal the book vending machines and allow young residents to select their first free books. Victoria Justice, a South Florida native, and Ms. Osborne, whose bestselling series continues this August with A BIG DAY FOR BASEBALL and the new nonfiction book BASEBALLwill support the program throughout the summer by encouraging participation in the #BookBattle. Random House Children’s Books authors Judd Winick (Hilo series), R. J. Palacio (WONDER), and Chris Grabenstein (Mr. Lemoncello’s Library series) and illustrator Christian Robinson (LITTLE PENGUINS) are also active members of the campaign, helping to generate awareness for the program and spark online voting in each #BookBattle city. Last summer, JetBlue’s vending machine program visited Detroit. During that time, the annual online #BookBattle voting competition also took place, where JetBlue’s customers and crew members and the local community overwhelmingly voted for Fort Lauderdale to receive 100,000 free children’s books in 2017. This year, four cities—Boston, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco—will go head-to-head in the national online #BookBattle to receive the 2018 donation. Voting is open at SoarwithReading.com through August 31. For the first time, anyone who casts a vote online will also receive a special 99¢ digital children’s book from Penguin Random House.

Penguin Random House’s Creative Writing Awards Support and Give Voice to NYC H.S. Students

cwa-groupshotPenguin Random House continued its long-held tradition of recognizing and rewarding talented New York City public high school students at our annual Creative Writing Awards (CWA), held Tuesday night, June 13, at Manhattan’s Symphony Space.  Since 1994, more than two million dollars have been

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awarded to students and their schools by Random House, and now Penguin Random House, through this awards competition.  This year, $115,000 in scholarships went to 62 NYC public high school seniors for their winning original poetry/spoken word, memoir, fiction and graphic-novel compositions. In a welcoming program note to all CWA attendees, our CEO Markus Dohle, said, in part, “At Penguin Random House, we are deeply committed to creating the next generation of writers and readers around the world. This commitment drives everything we do — from the books we promote and publish, to the programs we fund and support — and is personified no more proudly than in our Creative Writing Program. Through programs and partnerships focused on advancing a diversity of voices and ideas, promoting literacy and education, providing access to books, and championing creativity, we proudly believe in the power of books to connect and change lives.” [caption id="attachment_6700" align="alignright" width="225"]Julia Catalano with Alex Rose Julia Catalano with Alex Rose[/caption] Read the complete note from Markus here. In this twenty-fourth year for the competition, more than 1,100 entries were received from a diverse number of public high schools throughout NYC’s five boroughs. The awards presentation, hosted and organized by our Director of Corporate Giving, Melanie Fallon-Houska, included dramatic readings, spoken-word poetry, and graphic-novel presentations from a selection of winners, including this year’s newest $10,000 scholarship recipient of the *Maya Angelou Scholarship Award for Spoken Word Poetry. Here are the 2017 first-place winners: Christy Deng, Memoir, Edward R. Murrow High School Madison Aubey, Poetry, Hunter College High School Sophia Zhao, Fiction & Drama, Bronx High School of Science Julissa Salas, Graphic Novel, Hostos Lincoln Academy *Quameek English, Spoken Word Poetry, Brooklyn Generation School. [caption id="attachment_6699" align="alignright" width="199"]Camille Dewing with Alex Rose Camille Dewing with Alex Rose[/caption] While most students read or performed their owning winning pieces, several of the young writers opted to watch their pieces come to life via staged readings.  Random House Senior Copy Manager Camille Dewing-Vallejo and student Alex Rose (daughter of Doris Cooper, Clarkson Potter VP & Associate Publisher) played the mother/daughter roles in Julia Catalano’s winning poetry scene.  About this experience, Camille said, “It’s really important to support and nurture young writers like Julia and all the CWA recipients. They’re pouring everything they’ve got into these pieces, so it’s a great responsibility and honor for me to help Julia bring her words and vision to the stage. And not only is Alex Rose smart and adorable, she was a terrific scene partner and consummate pro!” Penguin Random House Digital Producer Nick Martorelli handled the “God Mic” responsibilities during the evening’s production, and said, “I’m proud to work for a company that offers these awards, as creative expression can be one of the most overlooked facets of education. I love volunteering, and I love seeing how excited the students are both to be recognized for their achievements, and to support their friends.” The award-winning high school seniors and their families, along with teachers and publishing industry guests, were also joined by Chris Jackson, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, One World; Lisa Lucas, Executive Director, National Book Foundation; David Kushner,author, Rolling Stone contributing editor; and Richard Hoehler, OOBR award-winning actor and author/playwright. This year’s judges included Penguin Young Readers Executive Editor Rob Valois; Villard Books author Janice Erlbaum; Haley Davis, Associate Manager, Diversified Sales, Penguin Random House; Sean Geary, National Accounts Manager/Club Channel, Penguin Random House; Lauren Helms, Team Coordinator, DK; Rob Holden, Associate Sales, Penguin Random House; Megha Jain, eBook Production Editor, Berkley; Deanna Masselli, Lead Analyst, Technical Administration, Penguin Random House; Areva Ragle, Senior Production Designer, DK;  Natalie Riera, Senior Manager, Digital Workflow, Penguin Random House; Samantha Seerman, eBook Production Manager, Knopf & Crown; and Phillip Stamper,  Manager, Publishing Development & Author Platforms, Penguin Random House. For more details on the Penguin Random House Creative Writing Awards, and a full list of winners, click here.

Penguin Random House Donates 5,000 Titles to New “Parthenon of Books”

parthenon-thumbnailArgentine artist Marta Minujín has created “Parthenon of Books,” a central piece in Documenta 14, one of the largest modern art shows in the world, being presented in Kassel, Germany, as well as its traditional home in Athens, Greece.  Thirty-four years ago, Ms. Minujín constructed a similar art installment in Buenos Aires, Argentina to speak out against

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dictatorially-imposed censorship.  For the past year, she has been collecting banned books as well as seeking donations in order to build a “Parthenon of Books,” or “Parthenon der Bücher,” in Germany. Penguin Random House donated more than 5,000 books from its US, UK and Spanish publishers to this endeavor, including William Goldings’ LORD OF THE FLIES (Penguin Books), Marjane Satrapi’s PERSEPOLIS (Pantheon), Anne Frank’s THE DIARY OF A YOUNG GIRL (Doubleday), and  Khaled Hosseini’s THE KITE RUNNER (Riverhead Books), frequently featured on Banned Books lists.  German sister company Random House Verlagsgruppe also contributed titles. clear-300x199This new Parthenon of Books dwarfs its 1983 predecessor (which held 25,000 volumes) and holds 100,000 books, including ones published by Penguin Random House imprints.  Rather than being constructed with limestone and marble like the original Parthenon, the “banned books” replica has been formed with 46 metal grills, covered in plastic sleeves that hold the thousands of books.  It does, however, match the original dimensions of the Athenian masterpiece.  The featured piece, unveiled on June 10, will be on display for 100 days. Documenta 14’s main building stands in Kassel’s Friedrichsplatz Park, where Nazis once burned 2,000 books as part of the “Campaign against the Un-German Spirit” in 1933. roll-of-thunder-photoDocumenta was founded in 1955 as a way to accelerate Germany’s participation in modern art as well as rid the country of Nazi cultural darkness. This is why the Parthenon of Books, although meant to send a signal against censorship, will not contain any copies of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, although it is a German book. Along with titles contributed by Penguin Random House, the structure will contain classic works by Balzac, the Brothers Grimm, Turgenev, and Chekhov, and even a copy of the Bible. Documenta, which occurs every five years, expects more than one million visitors this year, with the Parthenon expected to be the biggest draw. Following its showing at Documenta 14, the Parthenon der Bücher will be dismantled and its banned books distributed freely to the public—spreading the thoughts and words that were provocative and beautiful enough to be banned.

Giving Back: Students Shine at NYC P.S. 3 Poetry Reading

ps3 studentsTwo fifth grade classes at New York’s P.S. 3 Charrette School in Greenwich Village, our downtown Read-Ahead school, recently presented the P.S. 3 Poetry Reading to celebrate the completion of IF I WERE A SUPER MOON, I’D SHINE SO BRIGHT I’D LIGHT UP THE NIGHT, a collection of poems and illustrations from a number of the school’s students.

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Coordinated and sponsored by Penguin Random House, this special collection recognized 60 students who joined together and wrote hundreds of poems during National Poetry Month.  For most students, it was their first published work.  More than 25 parents and teachers beamed with pride while listening to their sons and daughters recite their own poetry as well as share their illustrations and artwork that accompanied the poems.   With the active participation of P.S. 3 teachers Lindsay Tomao (pictured), Lindsey Halligan, and Tara Cox, along with Principal Lisa Siegman and Assistant Principal Regina Chiou, this poetry writing program took place over five classroom sessions and provided additional support to Penguin Random House’s existing P.S. 3 partnership with Read-Ahead and employee volunteer reading mentors.  The writing exercises were based on odes, places, sketches, haikus, rhymes and artwork, among other topics.  For example, after a discussion about color, each student chose a favorite color and wrote an ode dedicated to and in celebration of their chosen hue. ps3-n13Ms. Tomao said, “By filtering poetry to its essence rather than its structure, Penguin Random House made poetry accessible to even the most reluctant student of English Language Arts by giving them the freedom to focus on the sounds of words beyond the phonics of spelling. I've never seen some of my students as engaged and invested in their learning as they were during the Penguin Random House Poetry workshops.” As part of our mission to nurture the next generation of writers and readers, Penguin Random House supports this program through the Read-Ahead partnership – providing employees an opportunity to give back to the community in which they work.  Penguin Random House has over 100 employee volunteer mentors and our partnership has evolved to include: author and illustrator visits, poetry workshops, book donations and various student-related events throughout the school year. To view this year’s impressive P.S 3 poetry collection, click here.
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Vintage Gives Carolina De Robertis’ RADICAL HOPE to 11,000 Libraries

radical hopeGiving hope is what inspired author Carolina De Robertis to create RADICAL HOPE: Letters of Love and Dissent in Dangerous Times, and what inspired Vintage Books and Penguin Random House to gift a copy of the book to 11,000 public libraries across America. 

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RADICAL HOPE is a collection of letters—to ancestors, to children five generations from now, to strangers in grocery lines, to any and all who feel weary and discouraged—written by award-winning novelists, poets, political thinkers, and activists.  Provocative and inspiring, RADICAL HOPE offers readers a kaleidoscopic view of the love and courage needed to navigate this time of upheaval, uncertainty, and fear.  The book’s letter-writers include such Penguin Random House authors as Junot Díaz, Karen Joy Fowler, Hari Kunzru, Celeste Ng, and Jane Smiley. ALA President Julie Todaro said, “(RADICAL HOPE) offers unique messages from extraordinary authors. It provides us with much needed, uplifting thoughts for these difficult times. I thank Vintage Books and the author for their gift to American Libraries.” Ms. De Robertis: “I’m incredibly moved and honored to know that this book will be reaching so many library shelves. This is a gift given to institutions – namely, libraries – that themselves give boundlessly to our communities and to our culture. My wildest hope would be that library patrons find some form of solace, spark, or sustenance in these pages and in the kaleidoscopic voices found therein.” Penguin Random House Library Marketing also partnered with the Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services to distribute an additional 1,000 copies to American Library Association members from the five ethnic affiliates of ALA, including the American Indian Library Association, Asian Pacific American Librarians Association, Black Caucus of the American Library Association, Chinese American Library Association, and REFORMA: The National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking.

Report from Westminster: Another Spelling Bee Win for Our Colleagues

spelling bee tnailThe 18th Annual Spelling Bee benefiting the Literacy Council of Carroll County, Inc. recently took place in Westminster and Penguin Random House was well represented with three teams of spellers.

The “Spine Crackers,” featuring Esther-Marie

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Emslee, Sandy Hartman, and Bill Gill from customer service, and Erin DiNello from DMS, spelled their way to a third place win! The “Alpha Betties” were represented by Rosie Korzie and Holly Little from Credit and Terry DeFelice and Mary Coe from General Ledger Accounting. “Err in Spelling,” our third team, consisted of Sylvia Shoemaker, Michelle Sadler, Debbie Lockwood, all from Customer service, along with Debbie’s daughter Meghan Lockwood. Although these teams did not place in the top 3, their participation helped with the fundraising efforts to benefit literacy needs in Carroll County. We are proud of and thank all the teams and spectators who took their time and efforts to help with the needs of others. Report by Terri Balzanna

“How the Penguin Random House Maya Angelou Teacher Award for Poetry Changed My Entire Year”

display caseTeacher Gillian Schneider, winner of Penguin Random House’s inaugural Maya Angelou Teacher Award for Poetry, knew how she wanted to use the prize’s $10,000 grant money.  In the spirit of giving back and finding a way for young poets to develop their craft, Ms. Schneider, an English Teacher at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville, IL, funded the

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creation of an illustrated student poetry collection, which can be viewed here. [caption id="attachment_5932" align="alignright" width="270"]Pictured, left to right: Michael Gentile, VP, Director, Academic Marketing, Penguin Random House; Melanie Fallon-Houska, Director of Corporate Giving, Penguin Random House; Caylin Johnson, Dr. Maya Angelou’s great grand-daughter; Kristen Nevins, $10,000 Grant Recipient; Gillian Schneider, $10,000 Maya Angelou Grant Recipient; Doug Hesse, NCTE President; and Susan Houser, NCTE President-Elect Pictured, left to right: Michael Gentile, VP, Director, Academic Marketing, Penguin Random House; Melanie Fallon-Houska, Director of Corporate Giving, Penguin Random House; Caylin Johnson, Dr. Maya Angelou’s great grand-daughter; Kristen Nevins, $10,000 Grant Recipient; Gillian Schneider, $10,000 Maya Angelou Grant Recipient; Doug Hesse, NCTE President; and Susan Houser, NCTE President-Elect[/caption] For National Poetry Month, Penguin Random House asked Ms. Schneider to share her thoughts about winning the Maya Angelou Teacher Award for Poetry and what it meant to her and her students.  With enthusiasm and excitement, Gillian created a blog post titled “Following Maya Angelou’s Footsteps” for the PRH High School blog.   With a reach of more than 100,000 educators, the blog post will also be included in the next Penguin Random House Academic High School Catalog – serving as a model program for other schools to adopt and share in best practices.  Here are excerpts: “I never imagined how a call from Penguin Random House informing me that I had received the inaugural Maya Angelou Poetry Award would change my entire year.  I was monitoring the halls during PSAT testing when I started listening to a voice message I noticed on my cell phone.  My department chair saw me–jumping up and down excitedly–and came down the hall to investigate. She, too, started jumping excitedly, and that afternoon, she announced at our English Department meeting that I had been given this prestigious the award. We shared the news with our administration, who in turn shared the news with our entire school–and then the district office, the Maya Image copySchool Board, and the community.  Our creative writing program has expanded over the last five years, and the Maya Angelou Award will allow our school the opportunity to expand even more. “Maya Angelou saw the good in others and used poetry to communicate a message of hope, especially in times of struggle.  We look to her words, her poetry, to support our collection.  Her words have guided us and inspired us.  Thanks to her family and to Penguin Random House for supporting us with the inaugural Maya Angelou Poetry Award!  Thanks to the students who wrote poetry and shared with us for this publication!” To read the full text of Ms. Schneider’s “Following Maya Angelou’s Footsteps” blog post, click here.

Launch Day: Join the #ProjectReadathon Million Minutes Campaign (April 17-23)

logo thumbnailPenguin Random House is very excited to announce the launch of our #ProjectReadathon Million Minutes campaign. The one-week reading and giving initiative, April 17 to April 23, gives readers the chance to help children in local communities throughout North America – just by reading.

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Starting today, readers can visit a new specially created online reading platform at ReadWell.PenguinRandomHouse.com and read free, timed excerpts from over 200 Penguin Random House titles. We believe that the simple act of reading can have far-reaching social impact: which is why the more minutes a user reads, the more book donations are triggered from us to Save the Children – putting up to 300,000 books into the hands of children in need in the US, Canada and Mexico. How #ProjectReadathon Works:

  • Each excerpt on the platform notes how many minutes will be added and how many books will be donated throughout the campaign.
  • For example, reading a 20-minute excerpt unlocks a 5-book donation from Penguin Random House to Save the Children; reading an hour unlocks a 20-books donation.
  • The books will go to Save the Children literacy programs, which help young students transition from learning to read to reading to learn.
Contributing Partners: Also joining the #ProjectReadathon Million Minutes campaign are Charity Miles and Tab for a Cause, two organizations that enable consumers to give back through everyday activities. Users will be invited to add minutes to the Project through reading at ReadWell.PenguinRandomHouse.com, as well as through the Charity Miles and Tab for a Cause platforms for special in-app and on-platform opportunities. A Worldwide Celebration of Books and Giving Back: #ProjectReadathon takes place in the US, Canada and Mexico, and culminates on April 23 in honor of UNESCO’s World Book and Copyright DayWorld Book Night (UK) and St. Jordi Day (Spain). Penguin Random House employees across the US, Canada, Mexico, UK, and Spain are taking part in local celebrations in honor of these events, as they join together in celebration of books and reading to give back to their local communities. Visit ReadWell.PenguinRandomHouse.com now to join #ProjectReadathon and #ReadWell. 

Penguin Random House Partners with LA Dodgers and LADF, Donates 5,000 Books to LA Reads

dodgersThe Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation (LADF) launched LA Reads, a joint initiative to help address the literacy crisis in Los Angeles by getting children excited about reading, with a special event at the Los Angeles Central Library on Saturday, April 1. Book partner Penguin Random House donated 5,000 titles

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that were given away to attending families for their children after Dodgers players such as Rich Hill, Andre Eithier and Yasmani Grandal read to 80 3rd and 4th grade students from local schools and non-profits. Guests also had the opportunity to have their photos taken with the players as well as Dodger alumni Billy Ashley, Dennis Powell and Al Ferrara and the Dodger character. dodgers1“We are proud to partner with the Dodgers and LADF in support of their LA Reads program. We believe that books and baseball are a perfect fit. In the same way that team sports help children learn to work and play together, books bring together young readers everywhere, expanding their worlds and opening their hearts and minds,” said Claire von Schilling, Executive Vice President, Corporate Communications, Penguin Random House. “We look forward to bringing together Penguin Random House books and Dodger baseball, as we work with the Dodgers’ Foundation, the team and their fans throughout this 2017 season.” “Getting children excited about reading during the summer baseball season and throughout the year is at the heart of our literacy work,” said Nichol Whiteman, Executive Director of LADF and Naomi Rodriguez, Dodger Vice President, Community Relations and External Affairs. “With LA Reads, we hope to give children the tools and incentives to develop a lifelong love of reading.” dodgers3Dodger players, coaches, wives, executives and alumni will continue to read to children at local libraries, schools and non-profit program sites. The Dodgers “Reading Champions” challenge will take place from April to August, further motivating 1st- 8th graders to read. Students who read more than 30 minutes per day will be rewarded with incentives, including monthly opportunities to be on the field at Dodger Stadium.  Students and families can learn more about the program at Dodgers.com/LAReads.