Telling Trump’s Story to Children: For Book Publishers, It’s Tricky

This is a challenging writing task. Presidential biographies are a staple of children’s book publishing, and of classrooms across the country. Nonfiction for children is a surging category, particularly in light of a Common Core mandate that schools put greater emphasis on it in their curriculum. Publishers like Penguin Young Readers, Scholastic and Time for Kids chronicle stories like the rise of Mr. Obama from Illinois state senator to president,…

Scholars’ unconvincing case about the value of the humanities (essay)

A literary work is a powerful tool for simulating what it’s like to inhabit someone else’s life. Not just tolerating difference, or grudgingly giving “the other side” equal time; but generating real empathy for the diversity of humanity. There is no Frigate like a Book To take us Lands away Nor any Coursers like a Page Of prancing Poetry – This Traverse may the poorest take Without oppress of Toll…

How the Midwest went from the idealized to the derided

While Pittsburgh has become more metropolitan in the last generation, the culture here one county to the east still bears witness to its rust belt past. This may sound dull as ditch water to those who believe that the “flyover” states are inhabited largely by clodhoppers, fundamentalist zealots and loudmouthed Babbitts. In fact, Lauck’s aim is to examine “how the Midwest as a region faded from our collective imagination” and…

3

Why Doesn’t Ancient Fiction Talk About Feelings?

Not a day goes by without The Girl reminding us that everyone else her age has a phone — but she also compares her desire for a phone to Gollum’s desire for The Ring. Many adults have told her she’s lucky not to carry around the burden of social media updates, though part of her is convinced she could resist the temptation, and that she would only use her phone…

There Is A Difference Between Middle Grade and Young Adult Lit, and It Does Matter 

Adolescence took a long time to be invented at all, and it took an even longer time to become a somewhat stable archetype. It’s only in recent human history that people a) live long enough for adolescence to be a different physical experience than adulthood; and b) live in a society that indulges an extended period of fooling around, experimenting, and generally doing nothing to benefit society. And it’s really…