then here are some are things at the library you might want to try.
then here are some are things at the library you might want to try.
Schoolchildren who read and write at home with their parents may build not only their academic literacy skills, but also other important life and learning skills, a recent study found.
The project, a study by researchers at the University of Washington, followed children for five years, either grades one through five or three through seven. It looked at their reading and writing activities at home, their school progress and their skills, both according to their parents’ reports and according to annual assessments.
In the study, published in May in the Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation by Nicole Alston-Abel and Virginia W. Berninger, parents were asked to rate their children’s ability to pay attention, set goals, control impulses and regulate their level of activity. Dr. Berninger, who is professor emerita of educational psychology at the University of Washington, said, “It’s not just the skills the parents teach at home, it’s also how they help their children’s self-regulation, sometimes called executive function.” Writing, she said, was just as important as reading, and the children in the study tended to struggle harder with writing, and to get more help with those assignments from their parents.
Well over 20 years ago, when we started using books at pediatric checkups, we called it literacy promotion. Then for a while, “school readiness” was the buzzword and the byword, so, not unreasonably, we talked about school readiness. And as more and more attention was drawn to early brain development, it seemed clear, as we talked about getting books into children’s hands and children’s homes, that what we were really trying to do was help foster the language-rich parent-child interactions that build children’s brains.
I still serve as national medical director of Reach Out and Read, a national program that works through pediatric primary care to encourage parents to read with their young children. We now reach 4.8 million children every year through more than 5,800 clinics and practices. We counsel parents about developmentally appropriate techniques for enjoying books with infants, toddlers and preschoolers, and we give out books at checkups through 5 years of age.
When we discuss our program and our evidence, we talk about trying to support positive and responsive parenting, since young children learn best from back and forth. We also talk about “serve and return” interactions (child-adult-child-adult) and “dialogic reading” (asking questions, letting the child help tell the story), and we try to make it clear that reading with a 1-year-old or a 2-year-old is less about reciting all the words of a story and more about pointing and naming, question and answer, and of course, about the affection and the sense of security that will leave a child with positive associations with books and reading.
(But as parents who had to read “Goodnight Moon” four or five times at bedtime will know, sometimes reading is in fact about satisfying a 2-year-old’s developmentally appropriate craving for exact repetition.)
The more we understand about the developing brain, the clearer it becomes that children need interaction; they are constantly learning, but they need adults and voices and interactions for that learning to take place. So the crucial advantage of a picture book may be that a baby or a toddler or a preschooler needs an adult to make that book “work,” to tell the story, produce the animal noises, make the pictures talk. The child is using the adult to make the book talk and, at the same time, using the book to make the adult talk, that is, using the book to elicit the most desirable kind of attention, the kind that happens on a lap, with pictures and familiar stories.
It’s wrong to think about literacy as just one restricted developmental zone, one arbitrary hurdle. In fact, literacy is about so much more than decoding print.
When we talk about those early literacy skills, from vocabulary to book handling to dialogic reading, we are talking about critical brain development, about so much learning that can happen when all the pieces are in place before children get to school: a caring adult who is not laid low by other problems, not too distracted to pay attention, a household sufficiently organized to allow for routines, a “print-rich” environment in which there are appealing books available, suited to the child’s age, and a pattern established early of reading together for pleasure. And all of this continues to matter as children go to school and learn to read, and continue reading and writing activities in the home with parents.
Reach Out and Read held focus groups, some years ago, for Spanish-speaking parents. We asked them to help us develop Spanish-language advice about the importance of reading aloud. The favorite messages were about love and affection: “el amor por los libros empieza en los brazos de los padres,” (the love of books begins in the parents’ arms). Read to your baby: “Es una muestra de amor!” (It’s a sign of love).
The love of reading does begin in the parents’ arms, and it is a sign of love to read to your baby. And because it’s a sign of love, because it links books and written language to the parental affection and attention that babies are built to crave, and to elicit, it does help children acquire a range of early literacy skills. And continued attention by parents to reading and writing activities as children grow up and go to school seems to help them learn how to study and learn.
For school-age children, Dr. Berninger said, “My advice to parents is foremost, enjoy your child and monitor whether your child is enjoying the literacy experience.” If a child is frustrated with — or just not interested in — the reading and writing activities at school, she suggested, reach out to the teacher, without suggesting that the teacher is to blame, and ask for some suggestions for joint activities. “Playing with language helps: riddles, jokes, word games like Scrabble,” she said.
When we speak of literacy and literacy promotion, we need to acknowledge how much literacy encompasses. Yes, it’s a key to success in school, with all that implies about life trajectory, earning power and socioeconomic status. It’s also a key to citizenship and enfranchisement in society, to your ability to understand and take part in all the discourse that shapes your community and your country and your world. It’s the product of a whole range of brain circuits from vocabulary and vision and visual processing to memory and meaning.
Literacy involves all aspects of language, Dr. Berninger said, “our oral language, what we hear and say, and our written language, what we read and write.” She called it “language by ear, mouth, eye and hand.”
And when you take a very young child on your lap and point to the pictures and ask questions, when you make the animal sounds or recite “goodnight bears, goodnight chairs” one more time, you are making the kinds of direct connections that build young children’s brains and condition their minds and memories.
Ever wonder what it would be like to have such an enormous amount of wealth that there would be no need to worry about, well, anything? Have you thought about what you would do with your spare time if you had a fortune off of which you could live, or what you would spend your money on? We’ve all imagined it, as unrealistic as it may be. Though being a part of high society is impossible for most of us, we can live vicariously through the characters in the stories that we read, whether they’re true or not.
So get lost in a life that isn’t yours – a life beyond your wildest dreams. These fourteen books will transport you to a different world, full of outrageous parties, glamour, scandal, and an overabundance of just about everything – especially drama.
Belonging to such a powerful, wealthy family comes with a price: You can’t choose your own life; it’s chosen for you. Tradition is of the utmost importance to the Edwardians, and must be upheld by future generations. Sebastian – the young, handsome, and temperamental heir – wants to veer from the path that his family has trod for years on end, but believes it to be impossible. When he meets Leonard Anquetil and Lady Roehampton, everything changes, including Sebastian’s perspective on his future. Sebastian’s sister Violet finds a way out of high society, and both siblings make the bold leap into a whole new world, leaving everything they know behind.
Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray is a classic read, and though it was published in 1890, it still resonates with readers today. The story centers around Dorian, who is an extremely wealthy and good-looking young man living in London. Dorian has a portrait of himself done by the great artist Basil and becomes obsessed with his own handsome, youthful appearance – so much so that he sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty. The book was originally attacked for exposing the dark side of Victorian society, and for evoking ideas of homosexuality.
Clay’s break from college means going back home to Los Angeles and resuming a life of privilege, money, and recklessness. Everyone Clay knows has fallen into a vicious cycle of destructive behavior, always wanting a high that’s even better than the last, and Clay follows suit. This book showcases the less than glamorous side of the young elite in L.A., with more parties, drugs, and sex than you might ever imagine.
When billionaire real estate tycoon Nero Golden moves to Manhattan from foreign shores, he and his three sons assume new identities and move into a grand mansion downtown. New York City natives are immediately intrigued by the bizarre newcomer and his family and the mystery that surrounds their arrival. The Golden’s neighbor, René – an ambitious young filmmaker, and narrator of the story – is especially curious, and finds the family to be the perfect subject for his work. The Golden House is a story of politics, pop culture, and identity, and serves as a force of light in current troubling times.
The apartment building at 740 Park has been Manhattan’s richest residence for seventy-five years now, and it’s certainly received a lot of attention. One apartment has thirty-seven rooms, fourteen bathrooms, forty-three closets, eleven working fireplaces, a private elevator, and his-and-hers saunas. It’s the kind of luxury of which most of us can only dream. The book begins with the story of the massive building’s construction in 1920s Manhattan, and explores how it attracted the richest, oldest families in the country. 740 Park gives readers a glimpse of the hidden lives of the wealthy residents as well as access to wealth, privilege, and all that entails. The social history of the American rich is laid out for all to see, uncensored and unprecedented.
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece centers on the young, mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby and Nick Carraway, the narrator of the story who moves next door to Gatsby’s lavish mansion. There are extravagant parties, love affairs, heartbreak, and a grand amount of dishonesty. The Great Gatsby explores themes of excessive nature, indulgence, idealism, and resistance to change. Creating a portrait of the Jazz Age and the Roaring ’20s, this wildly popular book is a literary classic and has inspired many adaptations throughout the decades.
Pride and Prejudice is easily one of the most well-known novels in the United States and around the world. With the most compelling of stories and the most memorable characters, it has remained unparalleled for two hundred years. Readers will find themselves immersed in the Bennet family, comprised of a quiet father, a dutiful mother, and five beautiful daughters. Mrs. Bennet works to find eligible suitors for her five daughters to marry, but when Mr. Darcy, a handsome young man, and his equally charming and wealthy companion take residence nearby, everything changes. Grand country estates, beautiful young men and women, and unwavering courtship all comprise this endearing story of heartache and romance.
On New Year’s Eve of 1937, twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent finds herself second-rate Greenwich Village jazz bar when Tinker Grey, an extremely handsome banker, sits down next to her. They begin to mingle, and though she doesn’t know it at the time, Katey’s encounter with Grey will lead her into the upper class of New York society. To fit in with the elite, Katey will have to rely on her wittiness and her keen eye. Amor Towles’s lively depiction of New York’s social strata, along with his enchanting characters, make Rules of Civility a must-read for everyone.
The Bonfire of the Vanities is a 1987 satirical novel centered on Sherman McCoy, a New York City bond trader with a wife and young daughter, who is rapidly losing his wealth. McCoy turns to his mistress, Maria Ruskin, for solace. One night, on a drive with Maria, Sherman accidentally enters the Bronx. He and Maria exit the car to determine where to go next, and are approached by two black men whom they perceive – uncertainly, in Sherman’s case – as predators. They quickly get back into the car and race away, striking one of the two boys. This compelling story focuses on racism, social class, politics, and greed in 1980s New York City, and captures what it truly means to have privilege.
Dr. Faraday, a country physician who built a decent life for himself, is called to attend to a patient at the Hundreds Hall, which has been home to the Ayres family for over two hundred years. The Georgian house, once impeccable, is now falling apart – and so are the Ayres. They are struggling to keep up with the changes in society, while also dealing with the strange happenings taking place in their home. Dr. Faraday finds much more than he ever expected in Hundreds Hall, and attempts to make sense of the ghostly events that unfold. The brilliant combination of the supernatural and high society in The Little Stranger reflects the evil and the social upheaval of the class system in postwar Britain.
Francesca “Chess” Varani experiences the gritty ins-and-outs of college life at Barnard in mid-eighties New York in B. G. Firmani’s novel Time’s a Thief. She grows up quickly as she encounters everything from toxic friendships, damaging love affairs, and difficult decisions that change her future. As more and more time passes, she finds herself caught up in the choices she’s made, and perhaps more importantly, the ones she didn’t. Chess is always looking back, always wanting something more than she has. When she accepts a job at the Marr-Löwenstein house in the wealthy West Village, she finds more than she ever expected, and discovers what happens when two very different worlds collide.
Empty Mansions reveals the ins and outs of the mysterious life of Huguette Clark, the daughter of self-made copper industrialist W. A. Clark. Huguette grew up in the largest house in New York City, with a remarkable fortune. But instead of keeping the money to herself, she devoted her life to sharing her wealth with friends and strangers. Readers will be introduced to her distinct family, her French boyfriend, her nurse who received more than $30 million in gifts, and the greedy relatives who wanted nothing more than to get their hands on Huguette’s fortune. Filled with beautiful illustrations and photographs, Empty Mansions is a captivating story of a misfit in the highest order – an extraordinary member of the Gilded Age who lived life on her own terms, despite the judgment of others.
This fascinating story follows heroine Undine Spragg – a vain, spoiled, selfish, but irresistible Midwestern girl who attempts to ascend through the ranks of New York City society. Wharton takes readers on a journey from New York to Europe, detailing Undine’s many marriages, affairs, and schemes. Undine doesn’t learn any lessons as she moves through life, and doesn’t go through any profound changes. She continues to care only about her own wealth and power, and finds pleasure in creating chaos. Edith Wharton’s The Custom of the Country is a clever, satirical, and detailed examination of the exploits and foolishness of the modern upper class.
This romantic comedy depicts what aristocratic life was like in England between the wars. It follows the life of Polly Hampton, a beautiful, young noblewoman who has been set up with the perfect marriage by her mother. She is expected to do her duty without question, and be a proper lady. But Polly finds England to be quite boring, especially after experiencing life in India, where her father served as Viceroy. When she reveals a long-kept secret, she shatters her mother’s dreams and loses her inheritance. With her newfound independence, Polly is free to do as she pleases, and her parents seek to find a new heir. Everyone eventually gets a happy ending – even if it’s not what they expected.
If hell exists, I know that for me, it’s a place without books. Even when I am just out running errands, I always carry a book in my bag with me. You never know when you might have to wait for something, and for me, those stretches of time – brief as they may be – are another opportunity to immerse myself in a world far away from a waiting room.
I am a bibliophile, a lover of books. When I was choosing which graduate school to attend, I admit: I made my choice based on the school’s library. The university rare book room possessed a treasure trove of materials dating back to before the invention of the Gutenberg printing press and plenty of early printed books from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. One of the most remarkable experiences I had while conducting research was with a book printed in the 1550s. While just being able to work with such a book thrilled me, what made it a once-in-a-lifetime experience was that the original owner of the book had written notes in the margins. Their marginalia, written in a sixteenth-century hand, made me feel as if we were reading the book together. Even five centuries apart, I noted his reactions to the passage I was reading, and found myself in conversation with the past.
Decades of reading later, I still find it amazing that I can read a book that was originally written in another language and thousands of years ago. I read my favorite Greek play, Antigone by Sophocles, and while the story it tells is about an ancient battlefield, its human emotions and the desire to oppose tyranny speaks to me still. And I can pick up such a book anytime – I have to go to a museum to interact with any other piece of art from that time period.
Books are an opportunity for me to gain some understandings about other Americans’ experiences, even as I recognize that I cannot live them. I didn’t grow up as a black man, and yet I can read James Baldwin or Ta-Nehisi Coates and learn from them.
When I have been through periods of tremendous loss, I have turned to books in order to have those who have been through it show me the way. Max Porter’s novel, Grief Is the Thing with Feathers, and Elizabeth Alexander’s luminous memoir, The Light of the World, both held a light for me when I felt trapped in darkness. Alexander, so vulnerable in the telling of the loss of her husband, lit a path for me as I mourned.
And reading has also allowed me the opportunity to be a better global citizen. Gil Courtemanche took me to Rwanda, and his novel, A Sunday by the Pool in Kigali, allowed me to eavesdrop on those who took shelter in a Kigali hotel while, out in the streets, chaos reigned. Rebecca West gave me an enormous background in Yugoslavia, so that when I read S. by Slavenka Drakulic it shattered me when I saw what became of Bosnian women during the war. And Sara Novic’s Girl at War gave to me hope that other women in the former Yugoslavia had found ways to resist.
My daughters are also readers. All three of us are huge fans of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Her Americanah allowed us the chance to understand one immigrant’s experience in the United States, while We Should All Be Feminists gave us the manifesto that expressed our multi-generational feminism.
The greatest gift that books have given to me, however, is relief from fear and stress. Recently, being able to escape into books allowed me to endure some frightening days. I live in a part of Florida from which I had to evacuate for Hurricane Irma. We were fortunate enough to go stay at a relative’s winter home in Orlando. The track of the hurricane switched back and forth several times. By the time it hit central Florida, we were under curfew in Orlando and couldn’t move, even when Irma hit the house where I was staying.
The winds began to pick up in the late afternoon on Sunday, September 10. By nine o’clock PM, six hours before the main part of the hurricane was due to go through the area, the wind ceaselessly howled. When I opened the front door to look outside, I was drenched by rain blowing sideways into the house.
I couldn’t sleep at all.
Outside, the wind surrounded the house like banshees, each of them keening and wailing as they bashed against the windows and doors. For twelve hours, the wind was relentless. As the sun lit up the world outside the house, the last blasts banged along the roof. It sounded like giants stomping around, and I wondered how much of the roof would be intact when we dared venture outside.
I had a copy of Ken Follett’s A Column of Fire. It’s the third book in Follett’s medieval series, and I was delighted to open the book to see that it began in 1558: the year that Elizabeth Tudor ascended the throne and became Elizabeth I. All during the approach of Irma on Friday and Saturday, I read it. On Saturday night, while the hurricane raged outside our doors, banging at the windows, I continued reading. Follett took me to France, the Netherlands, Hispaniola, and Scotland and England. I immersed myself in reading, focusing on the world that Follett had constructed for me. When the storm passed mid-morning Monday, I was just closing the book on 900-plus pages of my companion.
When I wasn’t reading Follett, I read poetry. Elizabeth Alexander’s edited collection of poems, How Lovely the Ruins, was packed with poems “for difficult times.”
Barn’s burnt down-
I can see the moon.
wrote Masahide, and the poem comforted me in my fear of what would be waiting for us at our house by the beach. But no matter. I focused on the idea that regardless of what was left behind would be okay.
Books eased all that was restless and afraid.
Even now, back at home we are still without power, internet, phone service – the modern conveniences we have told ourselves we cannot live without. But I have a bag of books with me in exile, which comforts me while I wait to go home.
There’s nothing like a good mystery novel when the need for a bit of page-turning escapism arises. Detective work is often (mistakenly) attributed to the old boy’s club; indeed, Hercule Poirot, Sam Spade, and of course Mr. Sherlock Holmes take up a fair chunk of pop-culture fiction real estate. These good and wily gentlemen, however, do have quite a bit of competition from their female counterparts. The mystery genre has long benefited from the solid woman’s footprint in the genre, both on the character side and the author side – and many of these female detectives are repeat investigators. The recurring sleuths below are just a few of our favorites.
Sue Grafton’s long-running Kinsey Millhone novels, also known as the “alphabet mysteries,” introduced mystery fans to Ms. Millhone, a hard-boiled private detective from fictional Santa Teresa, California, in 1982. With Grafton’s latest, Y Is for Yesterday, now available, there’s no better time to dive into Santa Teresa’s decidedly sordid criminal underworld.
Temperance Brennan is arguably best known from the hit Fox series, “Bones,” an adaptation of Kathy Reichs’s mystery series. At eighteen novels and counting, there’s certainly plenty of the literary life of Temperance Brennan to delve into. All the elements are there – edge-of-your-seat suspense, gruesome crime scenes, and plenty of bones.
Noir can be an interesting beast with all of its regional subgenres. In the case of Denise Mina and her world-weary Detective Inspector Alex Morrow, it just happens to be the Tartan Noir of Scotland. Much like its hard-boiled cousin in the Nordic countries, Tartan Noir is known for its bleak cynicism and oft-brutal crime. With Still Midnight, Morrow must contend with a bizarre murder/kidnapping, police force politics, and her own increasingly complicated personal life.
Precious Ramotswe is Botswana’s premiere detective and the proprietor of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. She also happens to be a particularly cunning and observant detective – and one of our personal favorites, so we’ve allowed for Alexander McCall Smith to be the one honorary male writer on this list. The delightful, bestselling series will see its eighteenth book released in early November – but you can dive in anyplace in the series. And while a bit less hard-boiled than some others on this list, Precious is certainly among the most engaging.
Stephanie Plum, a detective somewhere on a spectrum that runs from Nancy Drew to Dirty Harry, is the occasionally hapless, always resourceful bounty hunter at the center of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. Looking for a way to make ends meet, Plum, a former lingerie buyer, once blackmailed her way into a bounty hunting job as part of her cousin’s bail bond business. Myriad hijinks have since ensued.
With her sleuth Mary Russell, Laurie R. King has created one of the most intriguing detectives on this list. After a chance encounter with a semi-retired Sherlock Holmes, Russell found herself as the master detective’s protégé and eventually his wife. In their first adventure, with Russell still serving as Holmes’s apprentice, the duo find themselves navigating a labyrinthine mystery and a rash of murders against the rising tensions of British-occupied Palestine.
Who doesn’t like a good, wise-cracking, hardboiled detective whose past is a bit of a mystery? In the case of Sara Gran’s Claire DeWitt, that’s exactly what you get. Employing some unorthodox techniques – and by unorthodox we mean lucid dreaming and drug-induced visions – DeWitt is one of the more interesting detectives on this list. Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead sees the natural-born sleuth unraveling a mystery in a post-Katrina New Orleans.
This is an entry in another regional noir subgenres – Nordic Noir. It’s a genre well-known for its dense plotting, brutal crimes, tortured protagonists, and bleak themes. Asa Larsson’s Sun Storm is no different and attorney Rebecka Martinsson is as tortured as they come. In this latest installment in the series, Martinsson returns to the hometown she left in disgrace to confront her own dark past amid a series of vicious murders.
Patricia Cornwall is arguably one of contemporary crime fiction’s most influential writers. Her first novel, 1990’s Postmortem, introduced us to her longtime protagonist, medical examiner and forensic specialist Dr. Kay Scarpetta. Postmortem also garnered Cornwell a host of awards including an Edgar, and the author’s detail-heavy thrillers paved the way for TV series like “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.” In the novel that started it all, Scarpetta is drawn into the hunt for a particularly savvy serial killer.
Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Cooper seems to have a knack for landing in the middle of particularly perilous situations. In Killer Look, the most recent in Linda Fairstein’s Alexandra Cooper series, the seasoned D.A. is pulled into the investigation of an apparent suicide against the backdrop of the flashy New York fashion scene. With her job in jeopardy and her own PTSD on the verge of overtaking her, Killer Look could hold in its pages Cooper’s most dangerous case yet.
What can you do to show your appreciation for the dominant means of storing, transporting and spreading knowledge and understanding on Earth for the last 1,700 years or so (before books it was all scrolls and wax and rocks)?
Take time out from planning your costume parties and hanging fake cobwebs and stop by the library. Check out that old favorite, or that new book you’ve been meaning to read, or, if all else fails, ask a librarian to suggest something for you (if you plan it ahead of time you can fill out a Library Concierge form and have a list of five personally tailored recommendations waiting for you). Welcome to October and happy reading.