B. H. James and Elizabeth James are public high school teachers in Stockton, CA. Their second book, “A Sea of Troubles” has just been released, published by Rowman and Littlefield Publishing. This book focuses on strategies schools can use to discuss the “sea of (societal) troubles” students are currently dealing with: from abuses of power, to systemic racism, to surviving school shootings, the book aims to honor issues students are dealing with daily.
A Sea of Troubles: Pairing Literary and Informational Texts to Address Social Inequality has been designed for classroom teachers struggling to address the overwhelming issues facing our world today.
Written for educators at the middle-school, high-school, and college levels, A Sea of Troubles pairs iconic, often-taught works of literature (Shakespeare, Animal Farm, Romeo and Juliet, To Kill a Mockingbird) with nonfiction works to address social, racial, and gender inequities. As high school English teachers themselves, Elizabeth James and B. H. James, have included concrete activities, assignments, and discussions ready for the classroom.
By embracing the Common Core’s emphasis on the inclusion of more nonfiction, the authors have demonstrated how to incorporate meaningful informational texts into their favorite units of literature. A Sea of Troubles shows teachers how literature and informational texts can work together, to enhance each other, and, by extension, enhance student’s abilities to critically think and respond to the sea of troubles that pervades society.
“Are you keen to explore contemporary issues with students but more than a little bored with the titles in your curriculum? Sea of Troubles offers a model for re-envisioning how traditional texts are taught. Elizabeth and B.H. James describe instructional moves designed to demonstrate how literature “reflects the world and the world is reflected in fiction.” Whether you teach online or in person, their lessons integrating informational readings with literary works are sure to enliven classroom conversations.” – Carol Jago, past president, National Council of Teachers of English; author, “The Book in Question: Why and How Reading Is in Crisis”
“Elizabeth and B.H. James have written an elegant, sophisticated, and eminently useable text that English teachers will find energizing to read, even if they don’t teach the texts under consideration. Not only do the pair offer us new ways to both think about some of the most commonly-taught texts (Merchant, Raisin, Mockingbird) and teach these texts in conversation with nonfiction, but they do so in a way that is respectful and deeply optimistic about the possibility that English teachers might use literature to arm students with the skills to meet the sea of troubles that is our world and write the new book that we all need.” – Audrey Fisch and Susan Chenelle, authors of the “Using Informational Texts” series
“This book is designed to begin a very needed conversation in our classrooms today about social, racial, and gender inequities, done in the hope to help heal our nation of its acquiescence toward injustices that surround us today, guiding teachers to help students articulate and connect their own lived experiences to find meaning and relevance in the textbooks on the shelf. As we hope students forge their own ‘brave new world,’ the lessons in this book will activate the innate student and teenage desire to question and challenge the world around them, to state what goes unsaid about power and control in their own lives, to see the function of literature as more than an academic exercise, but as a call to embrace the full humanity of every human being.” – Natalia Trevino, author of VirginX and Lavando La Dirty Laundry
“Always student-centered, Elizabeth and B.H. James marry their cutting-edge call to pair literary and informational texts with concrete activities and assignments that are ready for the classroom. Activating old texts canonized in Common Core Standards for of-our-moment conversations, they show othering—where one gender, race, religion, or identity is stigmatized—to be a central, troubling feature of both literature and life. That agenda-setting insight opens doors for students to learn of bigotry today via Shakespeare, redlining in Chicago via A Raisin in the Sun, authoritarianism in 2020 via 1984, and structural sexism via The Handmaid’s Tale.” – Jeffrey R. Wilson, author of Shakespeare and Trump
The Way Forward: Final Words on Our “Sea of Troubles”
Romeo and Juliet and To Kill a Mockingbird: two books that demonstrate the tragedy of growing up in a world that is not as it should be. A world in which the adults have failed to create a world, for their children, that is safe and that is just.
But, two books in which the children, initiated into that world, move it forward.
On the morning of February 14, 2018—for the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL—it was just Valentine’s Day. By the end of the day, for those who survived, it was a new world. A world in which the adults had failed to keep them safe.
And for several of those surviving students, it was a coming-of-age, and a call to action. They organized. They marched. They changed minds. They changed laws. They are still going, moving their new world forward.
Just over two months later, the Parkland students—specifically Cameron Kasky, Jaclyn Corin, David Hogg, Emma Gonzalez, and Alex Wind—were featured on the cover of Time Magazine as part of the 2018 Time 100, with an accompanying essay by former President Barack Obama.
President Obama said the following:
America’s response to mass shootings has long followed a predictable pattern. We mourn. Offer thoughts and prayers. Speculate about the motives. And then—even as no developed country endures a homicide rate like ours, a difference explained largely by pervasive accessibility to guns; even as the majority of gun owners support commonsense reforms—the political debate spirals into acrimony and paralysis.
This time, something different is happening. This time, our children are calling us to account.
The Parkland, Fla., students don’t have the kind of lobbyists or big budgets for attack ads that their opponents do. Most of them can’t even vote yet.
But they have the power so often inherent in youth: to see the world anew; to reject the old constraints, outdated conventions and cowardice too often dressed up as wisdom.
The power to insist that America can be better.
Seared by memories of seeing their friends murdered at a place they believed to be safe, these young leaders don’t intimidate easily. They see the NRA and its allies—whether mealymouthed politicians or mendacious commentators peddling conspiracy theories—as mere shills for those who make money selling weapons of war to whoever can pay. They’re as comfortable speaking truth to power as they are dismissive of platitudes and punditry. And they live to mobilize their peers.
Already, they’ve had some success persuading statehouses and some of the biggest gun retailers to change. Now it gets harder. A Republican Congress remains unmoved. NRA scare tactics still sway much of the country. Progress will be slow and frustrating.
But by bearing witness to carnage, by asking tough questions and demanding real answers, the Parkland students are shaking us out of our complacency. The NRA’s favored candidates are starting to fear they might lose. Law-abiding gun owners are starting to speak out. As these young leaders make common cause with African Americans and Latinos—the disproportionate victims of gun violence—and reach voting age, the possibilities of meaningful change will steadily grow.
Our history is defined by the youthful push to make America more just, more compassionate, more equal under the law. This generation—of Parkland, of Dreamers, of Black Lives Matter—embraces that duty. If they make their elders uncomfortable, that’s how it should be. Our kids now show us what we’ve told them America is all about, even if we haven’t always believed it ourselves: that our future isn’t written for us, but by us.
It’s worth repeating: “Our history is defined by the youthful push to make America more just, more compassionate, more equal under the law.”
Romeo and Juliet, through their deaths, ended the feud between their parents. Their tragedy healed the rift that had caused so much violence.
Tom Robinson was dead. Atticus wanted to appeal, but Tom was shot seventeen times in the back, desperately trying to escape a world that he knew would offer him no justice.
But after her brother had been already hardened by the fact of that injustice, Jean Louise Finch looked at the novel’s other Other—deemed “Boo” Radley by the society that had decided he was a monster—and called him by his name: Arthur.
And in the novel’s final image, she stands on the Other’s porch and sees the world—her world—through his eyes.
If Boo Radley is a metaphor for the dehumanizing effects of Otherness, it takes Scout to move it forward.
It is our children who will guide us through the Sea of Troubles. And we have the honor and the duty, as teachers, of preparing them to do so. That is the true work of an educator.
In order to dismantle historically ingrained patterns and systems of oppression and inequality, our students must recognize them.
So the only way to, in good conscience, allow students to meet the Sea of Troubles that they will inevitably inherit, is to show them—to arm them against those systems and those patterns. Perhaps then, they’ll have the chance to do better than we’ve ever done…and write the new book.
About the Authors:
B. H. (or Bill) and Liz James met in 2008 when they were both young teachers in the English department at Franklin High School in Stockton. They fell in love and married in 2011, and published their first book together, “Method to the Madness: A Common Core Guide to Creating Critical Thinkers through the Study of Literature” in 2016. That book focused on making sure the shift to Common Core was not a shift away from rigor or high expectations in the classroom. Since 2016, Bill and Liz have worked with school districts all over California, bringing strategies they use in their socio-economically diverse Title 1 classroom in Stockton to teachers all over the state.
Their philosophy is simple: everyone craves and responds to great storytelling. Therefore, they insist on keeping challenging, difficult, often college-level material in their classroom–every classroom, despite age, so that students can truly understand literature.
In the midst of 2020, their new book, “A Sea of Troubles” was born. When they found themselves overwhelmed by not just the amount of pertinent news all around them, but the anxiety and uncertainty that accompanied such a daily deluge of (often troubling) information, they knew their students were dealing with it, too.
This book aims to take real-life issues of injustice and model how to discuss these historic patterns in a classroom. The idea is simple: injustice is both very personal and very universal. Therefore, incorporating applicable informational texts within a unit of study provides both a personal narrative of the human cost of injustice, as well as a way to look at one character’s story as part of a larger historical narrative that is still playing out in students’ lives today.
So, for instance, a student studying “A Raisin in the Sun” can study it as great literature, and learn about characterization and climax and syntax. But with the James’ approach, that unit of literature will also include the supreme court case “Hansberry v. Lee” and red-lining maps of their own neighborhoods so that they also understand how a prejudiced housing system resulted in a lack of investment in the neighborhoods that they may still live in today.
The Jameses used books and plays already in most classrooms (like “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “1984”) and reimagined how education can pivot toward a 21st century study of how these stories are reflections of inequalities and abuses of power that, despite time and place, keep happening.
For more information, to request a copy of A Sea of Troubles to review or an interview with the authors, please contact Kelsey Butts at Book Publicity Services at Kelsey@BookPublicityServices.com or (805) 807-9027.
Ms. Flygirl and Sky Daisy is the first book in the Flygirl series by Miho Madarame. This collection of short fantasies for kids (ages 6-8) as well as kids at heart chronicles the adventures of Ms. Flygirl and her yellow helicopter Sky Daisy. She saves a big tree in a tricky card game, helps a red hippo (a moving mail box!) deliver pink lemonade, and makes a deal for land with a bossy fox. When she is stranded on an uninhabited island, she is saved by a bottlenose dolphin. These witty but warm stories celebrate the spirit of adventure in all of us.
Ms. Flygirl’s adventures continue in Ms. Flygirl’s Fantastic Five Days, the second book of her successful series. As in the first book, independent and creative Ms. Flygirl, who lives in a helicopter named Sky Daisy, is ready to bravely embark upon new escapades. She bakes pastries with letters inside, takes part in a chorus contest with creatures in the forest, helps a kitty to look for his twin brother, and plants a remarkable flower garden. Readers will enjoy her happy, warm personality and getting to know a variety other interesting characters in these witty short stories.
About the Author:
Miho Madarame was born and grew up in Tokyo, Japan.
She graduated from Tokyo University of Education (now Tsukuba University) and then studied in graduate school in Humanities at The University of Chicago. She holds a BA in English literature, MA in Humanities, and ABD in History of Culture.
In 1984 she won a literary competition of children’s literature, and her first book Princess Flies in the Sky was published by Poplar Publishing, one of the biggest publishers for children’s books in Japan. Subsequently, she wrote 30 more books. She also translated many children’s books from English into Japanese, including Peter Pan and the Thomas the Tank Engine series.
After she moved to the United States, she studied drawing at the Glassel Art School in Houston, TX.
She currently divides time between Scottsdale, Arizona and San Diego, California.
On her 44th birthday, Jayne got deathly sick and landed herself in the emergency room with stunning vitals. After numerous tests, the ER physician diagnosed her as a severe diabetic who was minutes away from having a stroke. Jayne lost her vision/eyesight for 15 days. After that she changed her diet and eliminated all sugar, fruit, flour and snacking. Today, Jayne has lost 60 lbs, is medicine free and her eyesight is now 20/20. All accomplished by pure lifestyle change. She started a blog, the No Sugar Baker. That blog now has over 95,000 followers and typically every Saturday, her live Facebook cooking demos get about 40,000 views. In March 2021, Jayne released her first cookbook of No Sugar recipes including desserts, entrees, soups and treats. The No Sugar Baker’s Cookbook of Healthy Living & No Regrets is available for sale on Amazon. To learn more, go to www.nosugarbaker.com
At My Founder Story, Chris Olsen empowers womxn business owners in clarifying their WHY, to develop their purpose-driven brand story and confidently share it with the world, providing a foundation for entrepreneurial success. Rather than focusing on WHAT they do, they’re leading with their WHY.
Inspired by her clients (at My Founder Story) and her own personal WHY, Chris Olsen published Whyography: Building a Brand Fueled by Purpose. A Whyography is the Beyoncé of biographies. It combines the principles of storytelling and the power of purpose to honor your journey and what it took to get where you are today. This guidebook to developing your Whyography includes dozens of exercises and examples, plus the inspirational stories of more than 30 fierce female founders who are leading with their WHY. Author Chris Olsen also shares outrageous moments from her 12-year radio career and how the moments that tested her values ultimately led to the launch of her own purpose-driven business.
Whyography: Building a Brand Fueled by Purpose is available for sale on Amazon. One hundred percent of proceeds from book sales benefit the Fueled by Purpose micro grant fund for womxn business owners.
To read an excerpt from the book, go to: https://www.myfounderstory.com/introduction-basic-or-beyonce/
About the Author:
Chris Olsen is a strategic storyteller who has devoted her career to connecting individuals and organizations using the power of words, images and experiences. After more than a decade working in broadcast media, Chris launched a communications consultancy and began leveraging her behind-the-scenes media expertise to benefit clients.
Through her work as a consultant, Chris realized her WHY–to support women-owned businesses in confidently communicating their purpose and impact, setting them up for entrepreneurial success. She created My Founder Story as a platform for doing so.
A Minneapolis, Minnesota native, Chris now enjoys life in the country surrounded by organic veggie gardens and her art teacher partner’s overflowing pottery studio. She spends her free time writing and volunteering as a youth mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters.
To learn more, go to https://www.myfounderstory.com
Dr. Kien Vuu is one of the most sought-after anti-aging physicians in the country. At his VuuMD Longevity and Performance Clinic, Dr. Vuu regularly works with celebrities, top corporate executives, and high-functioning professionals to optimize their health, performance, and vitality. As someone who has overcome two chronic diseases himself, Dr. Vuu is passionate about empowering people to reclaim their health and live with fulfillment, abundance, and purpose.
Dr. Vuu is the author of the upcoming book “Thrive State: Your Blueprint for Optimal Health, Longevity, and Peak Performance.”
When asked what surprised him most about humanity, the Dalai Lama replied, “Man! Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.”
Over the last few years the average American lifespan has been decreasing, and the chronic disease epidemic continues to skyrocket. For many striving to pursue the American dream, the traditional path of no sleep, hard work, and an unconscious lifestyle, depletes them of the health and vitality needed to be their best in their businesses, relationships, and life’s mission.
The fact is, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Kien Vuu MD, better known by his friends and clients as Dr. V, is a medical doctor who wants to redefine the relationship between health and success.
At the heart of Thrive State is a time-tested approach to achieve optimal cellular longevity and performance. You will learn all aspects of Dr. V’s BioEnergetic Model – a scientific, yet practical framework for being free of chronic disease, having optimal physical, emotional, mental, sexual performance, and extending healthspan.
The BioEnergetic Model draws not only on years of Dr. V’s first-hand experience as a doctor, but also as a patient formerly suffering from chronic diseases―diabetes and hypertension. Dr. V cured himself, and is now smarter, happier, fitter, and more successful than ever before. It turns out that YOU are your best medicine.
Dr. V envisions a world where humans embrace a standard of health that enables us to be happier, live longer and more fully, and contribute our gifts to humanity with joy and intention. Thrive State is the blueprint for you to move towards that vision. By time you finish this book, you will be armed with a wealth of new practical knowledge about your own health and wellness, a roadmap for greater well-being, and a more optimistic outlook on our human potential.
“The Fountain of Youth is at our fingertips and Doctor V is handing you the key. Doctor V has spent his career on the forefront of anti-aging unlocking the door between new discoveries and technologies and your body’s ability to harmonize with them. In Thrive State, Doctor V reveals how you can unlock that power to achieve optimal health and performance while loving the process.” –George Bryant, New York Times bestselling author of The Paleo Kitchen
“ A must read. Thrive State is an empowering framework that reminds us We Are Our Best Medicine.” –Keith Ferrazi, New York Times bestselling author of Never Eat Alone
About the Author:
Kien Vuu, MD— popularly known as Doctor V—is an assistant professor of Health Sciences at UCLA, speaker, media expert, and founder of VuuMD Performance and Longevity. Dr. V has been practicing medicine for over 14 years, and combines his knowledge as a doctor with his personal experiences overcoming chronic disease.
Dr. V has survived remarkable odds to be here today. As an infant refugee, he survived dysentery, living on a boat for eight months when his penniless parents traveled to America. As an adult, he struggled with diabetes and high blood pressure, until an encounter with a patient changed his life and set him on a new course.
Dr. V was first trained in Interventional and Diagnostic Radiology, and became an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of disease using state-of-the-art medical imaging and non-invasive surgery. Dissatisfied with the disease-based model of modern medicine, Dr V sought out additional training with world experts in nutrition, personal development, spirituality, as well as performance and longevity medicine. He also pursued fellowship training and board certification by the American Board of Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine.
Today, Dr. V directs a concierge practice to help his clients optimize their health and rediscover their unique contributions to the world through time-tested, science-driven protocols that combine ancestral wisdom and modern medicine. Dr. V’s clientele includes corporate and professional athletes, physicians, c-suite executives, as well as known celebrities and TV personalities.
When not working with clients, Dr. V is a health media expert and speaker, sharing knowledge to raise health consciousness on various platforms, including ABC News, TEDx, The Doctors, and Access Hollywood.
To request a copy of Thrive State to review or an interview with Dr. Kien Vuu, please contact Kelsey Butts at Book Publicity Services at Kelsey@BookPublicityServices.com or (805) 807-9027.
Richard E. Nisbett is one of the world’s most respected psychologists. His work has inspired thinkers like Malcolm Gladwell:
“The most influential thinker, in my life, has been the psychologist Richard Nisbett. He basically gave me my view of the world.” -Malcolm Gladwell, The New York Times Book Review
Richard E. Nisbett recently released his memoir Thinking, published by Agora Books (on February 3, 2021).
Thinking: A Memoir is both an intellectual autobiography and a personal history. It describes Nisbett’s research showing how people reason, how people should reason, why errors in reasoning occur, how much you can improve reasoning, what kinds of problems are best solved by the conscious mind and what kinds by the unconscious mind, and how we should think about intelligence in light of answers to such questions. It shows that self-knowledge can be dramatically off-kilter and points to ways to improve it. The book shows that different cultures have radically different ways of reasoning, some of which are demonstrably superior to typical Western ways. The book starts with the author’s early experiences, many of which directly influenced his subsequent research.
“Richard Nisbett is one of the most influential psychologists on the planet. But he’s not just an important psychologist, he’s an important thinker, full stop. This memoir chronicles a truly extraordinary life of scientific discovery, interdisciplinary dialogue and public engagement. It’s astonishing how many of Nisbett’s remarkable discoveries resonate far beyond his home field: in philosophy, no psychologist, with the possible exceptions of Freud, Skinner, and Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman, has had as much impact on how foundational issues are conceived.” –John Doris, Professor of Philosophy and Professor of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University, author of Lack of Character: Personality and Moral Behavior
“Nisbett’s vivid anecdotes provide an insider’s view of social psychology and the characters who have created the field, including him. While worth reading as a memoir, the book provides an ideal introduction to social psychology.” –Randolph Nesse, author of Why We Get Sick and Good Reasons for Bad Feelings
Why “Thinking” as a title for a memoir? Doesn’t everyone think? Yes, but not that many people think a lot about thinking, or so I think. Also, only a tiny handful of people have spent a lifetime doing scientific research on thinking.
I have studied how people reason and make inferences about the world, how people should reason and make those inferences, what kinds of errors in reasoning are common, why errors in reasoning occur, how much you can improve reasoning, what kinds of problems are best solved by the conscious mind and what kinds by the unconscious mind, how important IQ is compared with other kinds of cognitive skills, and how we should think about intelligence in light of answers to such questions. In trying to answer questions like these, I have built on my training as a social psychologist by collaborating with other social psychologists, as well as with cognitive psychologists, developmental psychologists, personality psychologists, neuroscientists, behavior geneticists, economists, philosophers, statisticians, computer scientists, a psychiatrist, a political scientist, and a legal scholar.
I couldn’t have learned as much as I have about the human mind without collaborating with such a wide range of people. Collaboration made it possible to develop a view of intelligence very different from that of the scientists who specialize in that field. I have come to believe that the consensus about intelligence that existed at the end of the 20th century was largely wrong in crucial respects. Essentially, I think the consensus placed too much importance on heritability and too little on the environment, and utterly failed to recognize the importance of the interaction of genes with the environment. I think the consensus was also wrong in emphasizing IQ-type talents to the exclusion of valuable cognitive skills and knowledge that don’t help you get a high score on an IQ test. And the consensus was decidedly wrong in concluding that genes might play a role in the difference between blacks and whites in IQ.
Working with so many excellent people was possible only because I spent most of my career at the University of Michigan. There are terrific academics in virtually every field there. Equally important is the character of the university, which encourages collaboration among faculty. I believe collaboration in the behavioral sciences is more common at Michigan than at any other university in the U.S. This book offers some speculations about what it is that makes collaboration likely in a university.
As a consequence of the collaborations, this book is unlike any intellectual autobiography you’re likely to encounter. Though personally I’m pretty independent and individualistic, as a scientist, I’m very interdependent and collectivist. The intellectual diversity of these research teams has made it possible to work on an extremely wide range of topics, some rather distant from the topic of thinking, including the proper way to understand the contributions of personality to social behavior, the application of microeconomic principles to decisions we make in everyday life, why the typical job interview is worse than worthless, the fact that there is a “culture of honor” that accounts for the violence of the U.S. South, how members of different cultures perceive different aspects of the world and why it is they literally perceive them in a different way, and how ecologies dictate economies which dictate characteristic social relations which dictate ways of perceiving and thinking.
About the Author:
Richard E. Nisbett is one of the world’s most respected psychologists. His work focuses on issues in social psychology and cognitive science. He has received the Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions from the American Psychological Association and many other national and international awards. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is a recipient of the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. His book The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently . . . and Why won the William James Award of the American Psychological Association. That book, as well as Intelligence and How to Get It: Why Schools and Cultures Count and Mindware: Tools for Smart Thinking have been translated into multiple languages. His newest book is Thinking: A Memoir.
To learn more, go to RichardNisbett.com
To request a copy of Thinking to review or an interview with Richard Nisbett, please contact Kelsey Butts at Book Publicity Services at Kelsey@BookPublicityServices.com or (805) 807-9027.