Penguin Classics Presents: #Disrupt Texts and Min Jin Lee on Teaching Classics and Challenging the Traditional Canon

By Spenser Stevens | December 16 2021 | General

On Friday, November 12th, Penguin Random House (PRH) Education facilitated a conversation between bestselling author Min Jin Lee and #DisruptTexts co-founders Tricia Ebarvia and Lorena German. This event was part of the 75th Penguin Classics anniversary celebration week, which also featured reading lists, personal book recommendations, and enriching programming.

#Disrupt Texts is a crowdsourced, grass roots effort by teachers for teachers to challenge the traditional canon in order to create a more inclusive, representative, and equitable language arts curriculum that students deserve. It is part of their mission to aid and develop teachers committed to anti-racist/anti-bias teaching pedagogy and practices.

Min Jin Lee is the author of the New York Times–bestselling novel Pachinko—which was a finalist for the National Book Award and one of the Ten Best Books of 2017 selected by the New York Times Book Review—and of the nationally bestselling novel Free Food for Millionaires. A writer in residence at Amherst College and the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, she lives in New York. She is the introducer to the Penguin Classics edition of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Tricia Ebarvia is a high school English teacher with twenty years of experience. She is a codirector at the Pennsylvania Writing and Literature Project, a Heinemann Fellow, and a cofounder of #DisruptTexts and #31DaysIBPOC. Tricia believes that in order for students to become responsible, engaged participants in their communities, educators must teach from a stance of antibias and critical literacy. As a literacy consultant, she works with teachers on topics including independent reading, mentor texts, digital literacies, antibias and antiracist pedagogy, and curriculum design. Tricia’s work has been featured in various publications, including NCTE’s English Journal and the New York Times. She can be found online at @triciaebarvia and

Lorena German is a Dominican-American educator working with young people in Austin, Texas at Headwaters School. She’s been an educator for over a decade and has been published by NCTE, ASCD, EdWeek, and others. Lorena’s undergraduate degree is from Emmanuel College, her graduate degree is from the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury Vermont. She was the recipient of NCTE’s Early Career Educator of Color Leadership Award and winner of NCTE’s Latinx Caucus Excelencia in Teaching Scholarship Award. Lorena is also the Chair of NCTE’s Committee Against Racism and Bias in the Teaching of English. She also co-founded The Multicultural Classroom, an organization seeking to support educators in developing a culturally sustaining approach to education. Lorena is a wife, mami, teacher, and writer.

The fascinating discussion revolved around the question: “What makes a classic?”

Watch the conversation:


Learn more about the partnership between Penguin Classics and #DisruptTexts here

Learn more about the Penguin Classics 75th Anniversary Celebration here