What is a “Classic?” Educator’s Guide Now Available

By Spenser Stevens | May 31 2022 | GeneralEducation & Professional LearningEnglish Language ArtsSocial StudiesHistoryHigh School

In honor of their 75th anniversary, Penguin Classics has partnered with #DisruptTexts, a renowned education organization that works to create a more inclusive, representative and equitable language arts curriculum for K-12 students.

Facilitated by Penguin Random House (PRH) Education, this partnership includes a number of new initiatives focused on connecting with, and supporting, educators through innovative programming; online events for vital dialogue and teacher community discussion; and new educator resources for guiding student reading and discussion of traditional and “new” classics in-and-out of the classroom.

The “What is a Classic?” educator’s guide addresses the complicated question of what makes a text a “classic.” Written by Julia Torres and Tricia Ebarvia, both educators of color, the guide explores the implications when a text is bestowed the label of “classic,” especially depending on who is doing the bestowing. Using Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop’s concept of “mirrors” as a lens, Julia and Tricia acknowledge the power that classics can have for readers and educators – a power that is not always positive.

This guide provides the foundation for four forthcoming educator guides by the #DisruptTexts team on Penguin Classics texts that have been overlooked in secondary classrooms that are representative of BIPOC communities, including: Passing by Nella Larsen; Monkey King by Wu Cheng’en; Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko; and The Penguin Book of Migration Literature edited by Dohra Ahmad. Each of these guides will be published on the PRH Secondary Education website in the coming months to be used in perpetuity as resources for K-12 educators.

Download the guide here.

Learn more about the partnership here. 

Passing
978-0-14-243727-8
A NETFLIX BOOK CLUB PICKNella Larsen's powerful, thrilling, and tragic tale about the fluidity of racial identity that continues to resonate today. A New York Times Editors’ Choice. Now a major motion picture starring Tessa Thompson and Alexander Skarsgård   Clare Kendry is living on the edge. Light-skinned, elegant, and ambitious, she is married to a racist white man unaware of her African American heritage, and has severed all ties to her past after deciding to “pass” as a white woman. Clare’s childhood friend, Irene Redfield, just as light-skinned, has chosen to remain within the African American community, and is simultaneously allured and repelled by Clare’s risky decision to engage in racial masquerade for personal and societal gain. After frequenting African American-centric gatherings together in Harlem, Clare’s interest in Irene turns into a homoerotic longing for Irene’s black identity that she abandoned and can never embrace again, and she is forced to grapple with her decision to pass for white in a way that is both tragic and telling. This edition features a new introduction by Emily Bernard and notes by Thadious M. Davis.For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
$14.00 US
Feb 04, 2003
Paperback
160 Pages
Penguin Classics

Monkey King
Journey to the West (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)
978-0-14-313630-9
Now in paperback: the acclaimed new one-volume translation of one of the all-time great fantasy novels, which Neil Gaiman has said "is in the DNA of 1.5 billion people"A Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition, with flaps and deckle-edged paper
$18.00 US
May 10, 2022
Paperback
384 Pages
Penguin Classics

Ceremony
(Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)
978-0-14-310491-9
The great Native American Novel of a battered veteran returning home to heal his mind and spirit More than thirty-five years since its original publication, Ceremony remains one of the most profound and moving works of Native American literature, a novel that is itself a ceremony of healing. Tayo, a World War II veteran of mixed ancestry, returns to the Laguna Pueblo Reservation. He is deeply scarred by his experience as a prisoner of the Japanese and further wounded by the rejection he encounters from his people. Only by immersing himself in the Indian past can he begin to regain the peace that was taken from him. Masterfully written, filled with the somber majesty of Pueblo myth, Ceremony is a work of enduring power. The Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition contains a new preface by the author and an introduction by Larry McMurtry.For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
$18.00 US
Dec 26, 2006
Paperback
272 Pages
Penguin Classics

The Penguin Book of Migration Literature
Departures, Arrivals, Generations, Returns
978-0-14-313338-4
[Ahmad's] "introduction is fiery and charismatic... This book encompasses the diversity of experience, with beautiful variations and stories that bicker back and forth." --Parul Sehgal, The New York TimesThe first global anthology of migration literature featuring works by Mohsin Hamid, Zadie Smith, Marjane Satrapi, Salman Rushdie, and Warsan Shire, with a foreword by Edwidge Danticat, author of Everything InsideA Penguin Classic
$17.00 US
Sep 17, 2019
Paperback
320 Pages
Penguin Classics