Thursday, February 21, 2013

Another Glorious Reason (as if we needed any beyond Pure Delight)

"...individuals who frequently read fiction seem to be better able to understand other people, empathize with them and see the world from their perspective. This relationship persisted even after the researchers accounted for the possibility that more empathetic individuals might prefer reading novels. A 2010 study by Dr. Mar found a similar result in preschool-age children: the more stories they had read to them, the keener their theory of mind — an effect that was also produced by watching movies but, curiously, not by watching television. (Dr. Mar has conjectured that because children often watch TV alone, but go to the movies with their parents, they may experience more “parent-children conversations about mental states” when it comes to films.)"

---from Your Brain on Fiction, by Annie Murphy Paul

So pick up that novel, or children's book, or scooch together for a family movie night and profound post-discussion with your kiddo.

It's good for you. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013


I am in the kitchen peeling hard boiled eggs and listening to The Maytrees by Annie Dillard. 

His fondness for humans did not extend to girls, who were less interesting than frogs, and noisier.

C enters and stands in the doorway, listening.

Girls had no higher wish than to get old enough to wear make-up.
 C: "Who is saying that?"

I tell her it's a story, and that this part is about a boy.

"How old is this boy?"

"He's 11."

"But what he's saying is his opinion.  And it's fiction."

"It is fiction," I say.

"And his opinion.  Because you do other things besides wear make-up."

"I do."

"Lots of other things."

"So many."

"Like, you make make egg salad."

Then she leaves the kitchen and I'm left making egg salad.    

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Happy Birthday

Two notable women  born on February 3, back in dem 1800s.
Deets on them, and of course, the children's book version.

(I made bold anything I found particularly funny.  Oh history!  How much we learn!)

1.Elizabeth Blackwell
It's the birthday of the first woman to graduate from medical school, Elizabeth Blackwell, born on this day in Bristol, England, in 1821. She wanted to become a doctor because she knew that many women would rather discuss their health problems with another woman. She read medical texts and studied with doctors, but she was rejected by all the big medical schools. Finally the Geneva Medical College (which became Hobart College) in upstate New York accepted her. The faculty wasn't sure what to do with such a qualified candidate, and so they turned the decision over to the students. The male students voted unanimously to accept her. Her classmates and even professors considered many medical subjects too delicate for a woman, and didn't think she should be allowed to attend lectures on the reproductive system. But she graduated, became a doctor, and opened the New York Infirmary for Women and Children.
---from Writer's Almanac

The First Woman Doctor: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell, M.D.
The First Woman Doctor, by Rachel Baker

2.Gertrude Stein

It's the birthday of writer Gertrude Stein (books by this author), born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania (1874). She spent part of her childhood in Vienna and Paris, but grew up in Oakland, California.

Stein left Oakland for Radcliffe College, where she took classes from the philosopher William James. Then she moved to Paris, where she met and fell in love with Alice B. Toklas. Alice moved in with Gertrude, and she typed up Gertrude's manuscripts, got up early to clean and arrange the dishes, cooked and shopped, and ran the household. Together they presided over a salon in their home at 27 Rue de Fleurus — Gertrude had first lived there with her brother, Leo, but he did not share her passion for cubism and avant-garde writing, and moved to Florence. Young writers and artists flocked to 27 Rue de Fleurus — Picasso, Matisse, Ezra Pound, Georges Braque, Guillaume Apollinaire; and in later years, Hemingway, James Joyce, T.S. Eliot, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
In 1933, Stein published The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, which was not by Toklas at all, and it was a bestseller.
Gertrude Stein said, "I always wanted to be historical, from almost a baby on, I felt that way about it."
----from Writer's Almanac
Gertrude is Gertrude is Gertrude is Gertrude
Gertrude is Gertrude is Gertrude is Gertrude, by Jonah Winter

Sunday Review

The Boys at the Back, by Christina Hoff Sommers

"A few decades ago, when we realized that girls languished behind boys in math and science, we mounted a concerted effort to give them more support, with significant success. Shouldn’t we do the same for boys?"

War Games, by Nana Asfour

"My stepson's battle was virtual.  But the one I experienced was real."