Connecting to the Past by Picking up a Book

to kill a mockingbird

Until earlier this week, Harper Lee’s classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird was not available electronically. Readers had to discover Lee’s story of young Scout Finch growing up in a small Alabama town the old-fashioned way, by cracking open a book. (Or by seeing the acclaimed 1962 film version. But a student assigned to read To Kill a Mockingbird for school would certainly never just watch the movie, right? Right?) But now, Lee, who just last year sued for control of the copyright of her work, has agreed to let her book be published electronically, for reading on computers and e-readers.

In a statement, Lee said: “I’m still old-fashioned. I love dusty old books and libraries. I am amazed and humbled that Mockingbird has survived this long. This is Mockingbird for a new generation.”

As many more people acquire e-readers and read their books online, this was undoubtedly a smart choice for Lee and her publishers, who surely want to give people the option of reading her classic novel for as long as possible, in whatever format is the most popular. E-books and electronic publishing certainly seem to be the way of the future right now, and it’s good to know that whatever the future will bring, people will still be able to read To Kill A Mockingbird.

A different question raised by this news, though, is if the experience of reading a book like To Kill a Mockingbird, which is so tied to a specific time and place in the past (Alabama in the 1930s) will be affected by reading on a digital platform. For a young person reading To Kill a Mockingbird today, they are looking at a world very different from their own. Could reading about it on an e-reader create an even bigger sense of disconnect?

Books, physically, are a spectacular and lasting connection we have to the past. Our lifestyles and hobbies and distractions may change, but reading a book is reading a book, no matter when you do it. A book printed today is not fundamentally different from a book printed one-hundred years ago (or two or three hundred years or more, for that matter). Little technical things may change, but it’s still pieces of paper with printing on them, bound in a particular order to convey a story or inf0rmation. When someone today reads about Scout Finch picking up a book, they are able to connect with that moment. No matter how different their life and situation may be from Scout’s, they understand what a book feels like.

But for people who have no real conception of what a physical book is, this moment of connection with the character and story will be lost. They may recognize what a book is intellectually, but have no understanding how it feels. It’ll just be another thing making Scout’s world alien from their own.

Listen, I’m not a Luddite. I love books, but have no problems with technology. I’ve read books on computers and iPads, and it’s pretty nice. Plus, here at Morgan Reynolds, we release all our books electronically as well as physically and even have some e-book exclusives that not only tell great stories but will also look spectacular on your digital screen of choice. And when you get down to it, the important thing is that people read at all- what they read on is a minor issue.

Furthermore, To Kill a Mockingbird is a classic novel for a reason- it tells a great story filled with memorable characters, and features themes that resonate beyond any particular time or place.

But it is interesting to think that for centuries, the physical act of reading a book has remained largely unchanged, and very soon, it may be completely altered. It’s not a good thing or a bad thing- it just is. Still, even though To Kill a Mockingbird may now be accessible with just a quick click on your Kindle, it may be worth holding onto the old, dusty, dog-eared paperback on your shelf. The future is coming no matter what. It can spare a few moments to be wistful about the past.

To learn more about Harper Lee, and how her life inspired her classic novel, please check out Real Courage: The Story of Harper Lee by Katherine Don (ISBN# 978-1-59935-348-7) from your local library or purchase it from Morgan Reynolds Publishing.

-Josh Barrer

Associate Editor

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Happy International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month!

Today, nations around the world celebrate the progress women have made throughout history. According to InternationalWomensDay.com, “Annually on 8 March, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements.”

Here at Morgan Reynolds, we recognize that women have played important roles in the development of our society, which is why several of our books are about some of the most influential women in history.

~*~

In 1933, Franklin Delano Roosevelt appointed Frances Perkins to be his secretary of labor.

Emily Keller, author of Frances Perkins: First Woman Cabinet Member, wrote, “As a young woman in college, Frances Perkins considered becoming an actress or a teacher. However, women’s reform movements of the 1920s fired her imagination.”

When she accepted her position as the secretary of labor, Perkins said, “The overwhelming argument and thought which made me do it in the end in spite of personal difficulties was the realization that the door might not be opened to a woman again for a long, long time, and that I had a kind of duty to other women to walk in and sit down on the chair that was offered, and so establish the right of others long hence and far distant to sit in the high seat.”

Keller wrote, “A woman has not yet been elected president of the United States, but that will likely change someday. When it does, she will owe her election, at least in part, to the hard work and dedication of Frances Perkins, the first woman to serve in a president’s cabinet. ”

~*~

Dr. Padma Venkatraman, author of Profiles in Mathematics: Women Mathematicians, wrote that women have also influenced the world of mathematics.

[M]any women–though not as well-known by history–aided in the development of mathematics….[They] were born at times when women were expected to get only a minimal education. Furthermore, even when their passion prevailed and they were able to attain the knowledge they sought, they were often unable to find careers in their chosen field, blocked by men and the prejudices of their time…. With time and determination they succeeded, creating works that influenced people’s thinking about mathematics and the universe; in doing so, they not only achieved their own goals, but helped to forge the modern world.

~*~

There were even women in the sky at the beginning of the twentieth century. Wanda Langley, author  of Women of the Wind: Early Women Aviators wrote, “Early planes were rickety, open-cockpit contraptions, and daredevils flocked to them in droves. Many of those groundbreaking pilots lost their lives to the sky, even at they inspired others to take to the air. Not a few of these brave aviators were women.”

Women have contributed to the development of many fields. Find out more by taking a look at Morgan Reynolds’s biographies of some of these influential women:

Frances Perkins: First Woman Cabinet Member  (ISBN 9781931798914)                                                     

Profiles in Mathematics: Women Mathematicians (ISBN 9781599350912)                                                                                      

Women of the Wind: Early Women Aviators (ISBN 9781931798815)                                                                                             

Cleopatra: Ruler of Egypt (ISBN 9781599350356)                                                                                                                                       

Profiles in Mathematics: Sophie Germain (ISBN 9781599350622)                                                                                                               

New Elements: The Story of Marie Curie (ISBN 9781599350233)                                                                                                           

Profiles in Fashion: Vera Wang (ISBN 9781599351506)                                                                                                                         

Supreme Court Justices: Sonia Sotomayor (ISBN 9781599351568)                                                                                                     

Profiles in Fashion: Kate Spade (ISBN 9781599351544)                                                                                                                                 

From China to America: The Story of Amy Tan (ISBN 9781599351384) 

Adrianne Loggins
Associate Editor

Published in: on March 8, 2012 at 1:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Freedom and democracy are dreams you never give up.”-Aung San Suu Kyi

“Burma has a long and tortured history,” wrote Sherry O’Keefe in Champion of Freedom: Aung San Suu Kyi.

Much has changed in Burma (also known as Myanmar) over the course of the last century. It has been ruled by the British, then the Japanese, then it was taken over by General Ne Win and his military regime in 1962. All the while, the people of Burma have fought tooth and nail for democracy, and they have suffered for their efforts.

After the National League for Democracy (the NLD) was registered in Burma in 1988, the ruling military party, the State Law and Order Restoration Council (or the SLORC), attempted to censor and squash much of what the NLD was doing in order to maintain their control of the country. Censorship was not the worst of the NLD’s treatment, though. O’Keefe wrote:

They [the SLORC] apprehended the most loyal and able NLD supporters, usually students, and either imprisoned them or forced them to serve in ongoing wars against insurgent forces. While waiting to be shipped off to battlefronts, many students were subject to cruel forms of punishment, such as being stripped naked and herded around like animals. Others were brought to mine fields and forced to walk across them as human minesweepers.

But things have started to change for the small repressed country. Reuters reported, “While little has changed physically on Myanmar’s rutted streets, the government has seen a dramatic transformation the past six months. Last August, President Thein Sein, a former junta leader, stunned lawmakers in the capital Naypyitaw, urging them to pursue reforms, adopt good governance and do the unthinkable: freely voice opinions. Since then, hundreds of political prisoners have been freed.”

This past weekend, Burma and the rest of the world witnessed what seems to be democracy gaining another inch. Aung San Suu Kyi, beloved freedom-fighter and leader of the National League for Democracy, was, for the first time, allowed to openly move around the country campaigning for her party and its mission. Elections to Parliament are set to take place on April 1 of this year.

A year ago, that would have been “unthinkable,” the Associated Press reported. “The mere fact that Suu Kyi was able to speak openly in public… and her supporters were able to greet her en masse without fear of reprisal– was proof of dramatic progress itself.”

Suu Kyi told the burgeoning crowd of her supporters, “We will bring democracy to the country. We will bring rule of law . . . and we will see to it that repressive laws are repealed.”

Adrianne Loggins
Associate Editor

For more information about Aung San Suu Kyi and the history of Burma, check out Champion of Freedom: Aung San Suu Kyi by Sherry O’Keefe, a Morgan Reynolds title. (ISBN 9781599351681)

Published in: on February 2, 2012 at 11:20 am  Leave a Comment  
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“The long walk continues.”-Nelson Mandela

In South Africa, the African National Congress (ANC) recently celebrated its 100th birthday. Known throughout the world for orchestrating the fall of apartheid, the ANC is also celebrated for producing one of the most beloved and admired statesmen on earth: Nelson Mandela. Alex Perry of Time reported, “The central figure in ANC legend is Mandela, who reinvigorated the party in the 1940s and eventually led it to power in 1994.”

Mandela joined the ANC in 1943 and dedicated his life to its cause, to attain equal rights for South Africa’s oppressed black majority. He spent twenty-seven and a half years in prison—more than a third of his adult life—for conspiracy to overthrow the government of South Africa and its policies of white supremacy.

In 1994, four years after his release, Mandela was elected president of a democratic South Africa. Kem Sawyer, author of Champion of Freedom: Nelson Mandela, wrote, “It was a day to remember. The ANC, the party to which Mandela had dedicated most of his life, captured 62.6 of the vote. Mandela would become his country’s first black president.”

Mandela served as president of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, but despite his best efforts, his administration was not able to lift millions of South Africans out of poverty or transform the racially divided country into a “rainbow nation.” Wrote Sawyer:

On March 29, 1999, Mandela gave his last speech to Parliament, saying “It is in the legislatures that the instruments have been fashioned to create a better life for all.” He paid tribute to all South Africans who had made him who he was—the villagers, the workers, the intelligentsia, the business people, and those who “cherished the vision of a better life for all people everywhere.” He ended with the words, “The long walk continues.”

Today, the ANC finds itself at a crossroads on that long walk. Richard Dowden of Spectator magazine wrote, “After the departure of the old guard led by Mandela, the ANC has a growing reputation for corruption as well as incompetence.”

Dowden continued:

Eighteen years after the ANC came to power South Africa has one of the highest levels of inequality in the world and the gap appears to be widening. 10 % of the population are still without clean water and 20 % without electricity. And who is paying the … bill for the ANC’s 100th party this week? The South African tax payers.

Whatever the future holds, Nelson Mandela remains the most iconic figure of the ANC and South Africa.

Adrianne Loggins
Associate Editor

For more information on Mandela and the ANC, check out Kem Sawyer’s Champion of Freedom: Nelson Mandela, a Morgan Reynolds title. (ISBN9781599351674)


Published in: on January 19, 2012 at 2:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“There is power in hope.” -President Barack Obama

Last week, President Barack Obama traveled to Asia and the South Pacific in an attempt to revive the U.S.’s economic woes by knocking on the doors of Asia’s free markets.

Obama’s focus on the East has “signaled both a turn toward a part of the world experiencing solid growth and one away from Europe’s dark economic woes, at least temporarily,” the Huffington Post reported.

America’s standing in Asia-Pacific has declined in the past decade as China’s has increased. China now is the top trading partner for many countries across the region. Obama portrayed his trip . . .  as an effort to help open new Asian markets that could lead to more jobs in the U.S. as he strives to help get the nation’s economy back on track . . .

Just three years ago, Obama was elected president under the campaign “Change we can believe in.”  Kerrily Sapet, author of Political Profiles: Barack Obama, wrote, “Obama reminded everyone [during his campaign] that change, while necessary, isn’t easy. Many people chose to focus on the divisions in society, while he chooses to believe that ‘beneath all the differences of race and religion, faith and station, we are one people. . . . there is power in hope.'” He is still striving for global change for the better, it seems.

Obama also announced during his visit east that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be visiting the nation of Burma (also known as Myanmar) in an attempt to re-establish a relationship with the isolated nation and to begin the process of transitioning into a more democratic society. Clinton will visit Burma in December “in a major administration effort to bridge the decades-old divide between the United States and the Southeast Asian country,” according to Politico. Clinton will be the first U.S. secretary of state to visit the repressive country in fifty years.

Burma has been long been in unrest, repressed under a military regime. Reuters reported that Clinton’s vision for the nation is to see “a real political process and real elections.” She also said that “Another U.S. priority . . . is ending Myanmar’s ‘terrible conflicts with ethnic minorities.”

And Burma has been taking baby steps. Politico reported:

The Myanmar government has in recent weeks released some political prisoners, approved legislation that could open the political system and relaxed restrictions on media. The government also has initiated new dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of Myanmar’s pro-democracy opposition who was released last year from house arrest. “After years of darkness, we’ve seen flickers of progress in these last several weeks,” Obama said. “Taken together, these are the most important steps toward reform in Burma that we’ve seen in years.”

If the United States can mend a rather tattered relationship with Burma from its years under a volatile political system, it might open even more doors economically. According to Sherry O’Keefe, author of Champion of Freedom: Aung San Suu Kyi, an upcoming Morgan Reynolds title, “European explorers in the fifteenth century described Burma as ‘the golden land,’ and the British author and poet Rudyard Kipling called it the ‘Pearl of Asia.'” Burma is rich with natural resources, and because of the wedge that developed between Burma and the U.S. (and Europe), for years China has been reaping the benefits of what its neighbor has to offer. But again, change is in the air.

Adrianne Loggins
Associate Editor

For more information about Obama or Clinton, check out:

Political Profiles: Barack Obama by Kerrily Sapet (ISBN 9781599350455)

Political Profiles: Hillary Clinton by Catherine Wells (ISBN 9781599350479)

And for more information about Burma and Aung San Suu Kyi:

Champion of Freedom: Aung San Suu Kyi by Sherry O’Keefe (ISBN 9781599351681)

Published in: on November 22, 2011 at 11:46 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” -Steve Jobs’s advice to Stanford’s 2005 graduating class

Steve Jobs in 2010. Photo credit: Matthew Yohe.

Last week, Steve Jobs stepped down as CEO of Apple, Inc. According to the Wall Street Journal, Jobs wrote in his letter of resignation, “I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.”

Former COO Tim Cook has taken over as Apple’s CEO, and Jobs will now serve as the company’s Chairman of the Board. Jobs’s resignation is due to health issues.

In his letter of resignation, Jobs wrote:

I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.

I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.

Steve

The Wall Street Journal reports, “The announcement likely marks the end of one of the most extraordinary careers in U.S. business history.”

Jim Corrigan, author of the Morgan Reynolds title Business Leaders: Steve Jobs, wrote, “Jobs’s most admirable quality is the bold persistence with which he pursues objectives. He never gives up, no matter how difficult or tenuous his situation.” And he hasn’t given up on Apple. As chairman of the board, Jobs plans to remain active in the company, all the while watching it grow and flourish.

Adrianne Loggins
Associate Editor

For more information about Steve Jobs, check out Business Leaders: Steve Jobs by Jim Corrigan (ISBN 9781599350769).

Published in: on August 29, 2011 at 1:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“All men are created equal. No matter how hard you try, you can never erase those words.” -Harvey Milk

A new state law in California is requiring the roles of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals and groups in history to be added to the social studies curricula of the state’s public schools.

The law specifically states:

Instruction in social sciences shall include the early history of California and a study of the role and contributions of both men and women, Native Americans, African Americans, Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, European Americans, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans, persons with disabilities, and members of other ethnic and cultural groups, to the economic, political, and social development of California and the United States of America, with particular emphasis on portraying the role of these groups in contemporary society.

 

Morgan Reynolds has three books that can contribute to the new material in California’s social studies classes.

Alan Turing by Jim Corrigan in the Profiles in Mathematics series (ISBN 9781599350646)

Alan Turing was responsible for breaking the code of the German Enigma cipher during WWII. His accomplishment helped make it possible for the Allies to eventually win the war.

Corrigan writes, “Mathematician, codebreaker, computer scientist, philosopher, and biologist–Alan Turing was all of these. . . .[He] is widely recognized today as the father of computer science.”

Turing was also gay, and he lived during a time when homosexuality was illegal.

No Compromise: The Story of Harvey Milk by David Aretha (ISBN 9781599351293)

Harvey Milk’s influence helped changed the way America interpreted the Declaration of Independence’s “all men are created equal.”

In 2009, Milk was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama for inspiring a message of hope in a time of turmoil and change.

David Aretha writes, “In the 1970s, Harvey fought for the have-nots and left-outs, especially gays and lesbians. . . . Decades after his death he continues to enter the consciousness of new generations, as gay and lesbian Americans intensify their fight for equal rights.”

No Easy Answers: Bayard Rustin and the Civil Rights Movement by Calvin Craig Miller (ISBN 9781931798435)

Bayard Rustin was the grandson of a former slave and a staunch activist for the civil rights movement. He believed in using Mohandas Gandhi’s practice of nonviolent protesting. But after being prosecuted for being a homosexual, Rustin was abandoned by several members of the civil rights movement. Despite tremendous adversity, Rustin did not give up on the movement, and in fact organized the 1963 March on Washington.

Miller writes, “Today, Bayard Rustin is remembered as a tireless force, a man who gave his life and his work to the cause he so fervently believed in, and who struggled to bear two crosses–being black and being gay–at a time when one was more than enough.”

***

Now that California has voted to include “gay history” in social studies lessons statewide, it may be just a matter of time before other states fall in line to do the same. As has been said thousands of times, first goes California, then goes the nation.

 

Adrianne Loggins
Associate Editor

Published in: on July 26, 2011 at 3:42 pm  Comments (2)  
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“Every thing must have a beginning … and that beginning must be linked to something that went before.” -Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.”

When John Riley and Anita Richardson founded Morgan Reynolds almost twenty years ago, their hope was to produce nonfiction books that would both supplement middle school and high school curricula and spark the interest of young adult readers.

According to Readfaster.com, “Out-of-school reading habits of students has shown that even as little as fifteen minutes a day of independent reading can expose students to more than a million words of text in a year.”

Even Dr. Seuss knew what kind of opportunities reading could present, “The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

But the publishing industry is changing.

If there is one thing for certain, it is that change, no matter what industry you are in, will always be a constant. For publishing, never has that been more true. Economic ups and downs, advancements in technology, and changes in what teens, the most fickle of readers, are interested in are just some of the things publishers have to consider.

As a small independent publishing company, we want to use this blog to share who we are, what we publish, what our philosophy is, what events we will be attending, and how we are adapting to the constant changes in the publishing world.

We will be posting things that pertain to our company and our industry. So stay tuned and thanks for reading!

Adrianne Loggins
Associate Editor

*Be sure to take a look at our Mary Shelley biography, Strange Creatures: The Story of Mary Shelley


Published in: on March 22, 2011 at 5:30 pm  Comments (1)  
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