July 7, 2005
The New Yorker asks why children love Roald Dahl, the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach, and why adults generally don't like the curious children's writer. It's a long piece, but includes lots of lovely details about Dahl, including bits about his writing hut:
The adults who looked into the hut were less impressed. The walls, lined with Styrofoam, were stained sepia from all the cigarettes Dahl smoked; there was a grotty wing chair; and wires for a jury-rigged heating system dangled from the ceiling. “You’d expect it to be grander,” one woman said. But the kids saw more possibilities in a musty old hut of one’s own. They liked the fact that Dahl, unsatisfied with desks, had designed a baize-covered writing board, to balance on his lap just so. And they loved that he kept, on a side table, a jar containing gristly bits of his own spine, which had been removed during an operation on his lower back. Next to the jar was a waxy-looking knob that turned out to be Dahl’s hip bone, along with a titanium replacement.
“It makes a good letter opener,” one little boy said of the prosthetic hip.
“Has it got blood on it?” another asked hopefully.
Several young visitors asked for permission to hold the ball of chocolate-bar wrappers that Dahl had made as a young man; he scrunched a new one into the ball each day, after eating his habitual lunchtime treat. (Now hard and surprisingly heavy, the wad resembles a small cannonball.) Still, what seemed to excite the children the most was the paperback collection of Dahl’s own work. “Look!” several of them cried. “There are the books!”
Children's author and former teacher Jon Scieszka, author of Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, has been concerned about the reading habits of boys. So he started Guys Read, a web site recommending books for guys, with everything from picture books to novels. Scieszka recently talked with USA Today about Guys Read, what boys like to read and the differences between boys and girls.
May 14, 2005
Sort of. A new study by the U.S. Department of Education has tracked children, parenting habits and test scores to see what works and what doesn't. The result are surprising, including the news that a child with 50 books in their home scores 5% higher than a child with no books. A child with 100 books scores another 5% higher. (With the 1,400+ books in my house my kids, when we have them, are going to be geniuses!)
But it's not just cause and effect. Whether or not the parent read to the child had no effect. The presence of books in a household is more of an indicator that parents care about education. (link via Jordon Cooper)
April 29, 2005
Is this the future of books? It's a flat-panel e-book reader, supposedly with insanely good resolution. Jason Kottke reports that it was just like reading a book. Though the downside is Sony's copyright management (60 days tops) and small storage space (10 MB).
April 28, 2005
Take a literary tour of New York and visit the haunts of fictional characters, assuming the haunts aren't fictional. Randy Cohen suggests mapping the characters of New York for a fictional sight-seeing trip.
Sounds like fun. How about somebody do my town?