I read Destination Simple: Everyday Rituals for a Slower Life by Brooke McAlaray for a new year’s reset. The tiny book can be read in one sitting, but it’s also great to dip in and out of as you let the ideas marinate. Unlike more rigorous guides, such as David Allen’s Getting Things Done (which I also love), Destination Simple is one to reach for when you’re feeling overwhelmed—when you want to sink into your day versus power through it. Broken into three parts, it first presents . . .
I know my opinions make an impression—among people inclined to agree with me, anyway. My confidence in influencing those with divergent views, however, is so low that I generally avoid addressing controversial issues with them at all. I wouldn’t talk guns or race with a Republican, for example. I’ve read one too many reports on partisan polarization to go there. To be fair, I’ve offered similar silence to some on my side of the aisle, too, especially the “colorblind” and others who may be . . .
Culture Queen Discusses Top Kwanzaa Misconceptions Got questions about Kwanzaa? You’re not alone. Here’s Kwanzaa educator Jessica “Culture Queen” Hebron’s rundown of the top five misconceptions about Kwanzaa. Misconception 1: Kwanzaa is a Religion Kwanzaa is a celebration of Pan-African family and community, not a religious ritual. “People think that if you start celebrating Kwanzaa, you're devil worshiping or you're worshiping principles instead of God. That's not true. The principles . . .
In December 2014, I attended a Kwanzaa workshop at Central Montessori School in Richmond, Virginia, that continues to resonate, across years and miles. The speaker was Kwanzaa educator Jessica “Culture Queen” Hebron, and her celebration—culturally rooted, historically aware, hands-on, and high-energy—introduced Kwanzaa to my toddler daughter in grand fashion. She transformed the gathering space with an ornate Kwanzaa table and song, dance, crafts, and stories that kept families engaged from . . .
Jessica “Culture Queen” Hebron is on a mission to make Kwanzaa fun, enticing, and effortless for families to celebrate. “We have several different black people holidays, but this is the big one,” she explains. “I think it's really cool that black people have something just for them that lasts seven days, helps you to align yourself culturally, and gives you like a cultural sense of self.” She believes that the keys to bolstering participation in the holiday she loves are to start slow and . . .
I marvel at book talk attendees. People trek from great distances, clutching worn copies of favorite reads. They stand in long lines for a brief word with (or autograph from) a favorite writer. The brave ones step to the podium to share stories or ask questions. Their remarks bring more voices and perspectives into conversation. Their contributions add welcome depth and texture to the occasion. At a Jacqueline Woodson BookPeople talk that I moderated in October, an educator in the audience . . .
Pronouns just aren’t what they used to be. Apparently, new uses of the word they sent people to the dictionary in droves in 2019. Online searches for the word spiked 313% from the year before. And the upsurge in curiosity about the 600-year-old word lead dictionary giant Merriam-Webster to name they the word of the year. We’ve long thought of they as referring to groups of people, animals, or things. Or even (though more recently) to singular people if their identities aren’t known or . . .
When people ask what my favorite book is, I always respond with Jacqueline Woodson’s 2012 picture book Each Kindness. But truth be told, everything she writes, from picture book to poetry to novel, is wonderful. Each new work prompts me to consider central questions of who we are, why we are, and how we can grow for the better. And, because I adore her writing and her advocacy for reading, I interview her every chance I get. Here’s an excerpt from our October conversation about her novel Red . . .
The Texas Book Festival launched by former librarian and then First Lady of Texas Laura Bush and philanthropist Mary Margaret Farabee in 1995 continues to grow in size and impact. Today the literary event brings more than three hundred authors to Austin each fall for a weekend of thought-provoking book discussions. What’s more, its book sale proceeds and attendee donations support powerful student programs in schools throughout Texas year-round. One of those programs is Reading Rock Stars, . . .
Can you spell sesquipedalian? Well, the children featured in anthropologist Shalini Shankar’s Beeline: What Spelling Bees Reveal About Generation Z’s New Path to Success can. The elite competitors in the Scripps National Spelling Bee are largely of South Asian descent and, though born after 1996, exhibit intensity, skill, and poise rare in people twice their age. On stage, they spell obscure words with ease, backed by supportive parents and thousands of hours of practice. And these feats . . .