When Bad Words Are Said to Good Children

Should bad words be read to children? This question surfaced last week when children’s author Dan Gutman posted his response to a parent letter on Facebook asking whether it was appropriate to use the N-word in books for young audiences. Gutman rose to fame with his My Weird School series. The wacky volumes, beloved by … Continued

Books, Culture

The Everlasting Appeal of Natalie Babbitt

Whether they recognize her name or not, most elementary school students know Natalie Babbitt very well. They know her through the pages of her book, Tuck Everlasting, which seems like a typical children’s story but in fact masterfully raises a complicated question of immortality, namely: What if we could live forever? This week, news of … Continued

Books, Culture

Be Like Hamilton: Bring Back the Desk

Driving with my family not long ago, I caught glimpse of a street sign as we came through the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel in New York. “Hey, look kids, Hamilton Ave.,” I called out to the pack of biography-loving young readers crammed behind me. Without missing a beat, the older kids broke out into song, “I am … Continued


Will Diversity Crusades Lead to More Banned Books?

The last week of September was National Banned Book Week in America, a celebratory campaign the American Library Association sponsors every year to highlight the freedom we have to read. The event also includes an unveiling of the list of most challenged books for the year. The good news is that Americans seek to ban … Continued

Books, Culture

Messages in the Age of Messaging

One hundred and twenty year ago, Guglielmo Marconi sent a coded message via wireless transition—“Are you ready”—across 3.7 miles of Wales. Not long after, a message flew across 2,000 miles and the Atlantic Ocean. The world has since become accustomed to seeing words travel across water and air, between distant countries and far off shores. Today, … Continued


Ryan Lochte Took the ‘Man’ Out of Sportsmanship

It took a weatherman to call an Olympian liar a liar. Last Friday night, the lawyer for American Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte was quoted in the press saying his client hadn’t lied about being held up at gunpoint at a gas station at the Rio Olympics after a night of celebratory partying, though available evidence … Continued

Culture, Sports

Why Character No Longer Counts in Presidential Biographies for Children

American documentarian Ken Burns has written a new book for children called Grover Cleveland, Again! The book is colorful and fun, and the title is taken from his own children’s lyrical recitation of the American presidents in chronological order—and the need to say Grover Cleveland’s name twice (he was the 22nd and 24th president). Each … Continued

Books, Culture

If You Build a Little Free Library, Will People Read?

This summer I’ve been to two beaches—one in New Jersey and one in Connecticut. At both places my kids found free “libraries.” On one boardwalk, a boat shaped bookcase invited beachgoers to grab a title and settle in under their umbrella. At the next beach, a cart with rows of books for the taking next … Continued


The Virtues of Attila the Hun—and Other Stories

Hungarian history isn’t a staple in elementary or middle school curriculum these days, and it’s rare to see a Kate Seredy’s book on a child’s reading list. Ask your kids about Hungary and you might hear a reply like, “Yeah I’d love some dinner.” But in the early twentieth century, Seredy, a Hungarian-born illustrator by … Continued