Books

The dog days of summer are just around the corner ... or maybe they’re already here. One way that kids can beat them is with a great book. Our panel of librarians were here again with their favorite titles of the summer.

Guests:

  • Debbie McLeod, retired librarian.
  • Dennis Ross, director of youth services at the Johnson County Public Library.
  • Lacie Griffin, collection development specialist at the Johnson County Public Library. 

Books:

ProjectManhattan / Wikimedia--CC

Children’s literature is becoming more and more diverse, but choosing which books to share with children can still be difficult. 

KCUR’s Central Standard recently welcomed Kansas City authors Christine Taylor-Butler and Traci Sorell to a discussion of how representations of race in children’s literature have changed over time.

Here are their recommendations for books with diverse and nuanced characters and storylines.

Christine Taylor-Butler, children’s book author:

flickr user Peter Musolino

Many teenagers seek out jobs, often for the first time, in the summer. Writer and novelist Thomas Fox Averill was 16 when he started his first job at Mount Hope Cemetery in Topeka, Kansas.

Averill, a writer-in-residence and professor of English at Washburn University, spent three summers as part of the grounds crew at Mount Hope. He told New Letters on the Air host Angela Elam that the experience shaped his life and his approach to writing.

“First crushes are enduring" but celebrity crushes bring “a whole new level of potency" says Dave Singleton, co-author of Crush: Writers Reflect on Love, Longing and the Lasting Power of Their First Celebrity Crush. Up to Date host Steve Kraske, along with KCUR staffers and listeners reveal their celebrity crushes and learn why they endure.

Ruth Hartnup/Flickr -- CC

Racism can be difficult to confront, particularly if it appears in a classic children’s book. We explore how diversity was represented in children's literature of the past, and how it's being redefined in the future.

Guests:

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

It may look like just another hefty tome, but Shakespeare's First Folio is a big deal. Up To Date hit the road for a live, first-hand look at one of the most valuable, and rare, literary documents in the English language.

Guests:

It might seem cramped to you, but there are plenty of reasons people consider downsizing into a tiny home.  Young adults who've been priced out of living in the city, retirees who prefer a tiny home on wheels to a giant RV, even folks whose finances were upended by the recession, are all driving a trend toward smaller, more economical living spaces.

Guest:

You know the story; with a good education, hard work, and a little stick-to-itiveness, you can make a better life for yourself and your kids. It's quite literally the American dream. Political scientist and author Robert D. Putnam wonders, though, if that narrative is becoming less attainable.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Within ten minutes of his first day of school Juan Felipe Herrera was spanked, scolded, and left crying, all for speaking Spanish, the only language he knew. You wouldn't have guessed it then, but Herrera would grow up to be named the United States Poet Laureate. Twice.

His journey may never have happened if it weren't for his third-grade teacher, Mrs. Sampson.

"She said something that stayed with me for the rest of my life, and that I tell everyone I meet," Herrera said in an interview on KCUR's Up To Date, "you have a beautiful voice."

Most of us get that the U.S. government failed to fix the banking system after the Great Recession. The irony is that the world of high finance and wealth creation is still ruling the country, while the financial system is as vulnerable as ever.

Guest:

  • Rana Foroohar is an assistant managing editor at TIME and the magazine's economics columnist. She is the author of Makers and Takers: The Rise of Finance and the Fall of American Business.
Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

The Vietnam War divided the country – and families – including that of Kansas City writer Alan Robert Proctor. His brother, Bruce Proctor, worked in the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency before fleeing the country to avoid being sent to Vietnam.

We might be breaking kayfabe in saying so, but it's well-known that most professional wrestling is three parts theater, one part combat. While the moves in the ring might be choreographed, the injuries sustained by performers and the emotion from the crowd is anything but a farce.

Guest:

Literature lovers owe a debt of gratitude to industrialist Henry Folger, who assembled the largest collection of William Shakespeare's folios, including the famed First Folio. Without that anthology, "half of his plays would have ended up on the ash heap of history," says author Andrea Mays.

You probably think he turned his back on our nascent nation, but before all that Gen. Benedict Arnold was an ally of George Washington and a war hero to boot. Author Nathaniel Philbrick's latest book, Valiant Ambition, explores Arnold's motives for making the decision that ultimately became his legacy.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

As Debbie Pettid, one of the creators of The Rabbit Hole, waited for some 30 elementary school students from Rosehill Enhanced Learning Classroom in the Shawnee Mission School District on a recent Friday morning, she reflected on the whirlwind of the past several months.

Becoming a grandparent can have vivid effects on a person. Journalist Lesley Stahl's new book, Becoming Grandma, explores the evolution of close relationships, personal transformation, and the intense joy that came over her when she held her grand-daughters for the first time.

When Al-Qaida moved into Timbuktu, Mali, the terror group was bent on enforcing Shariah law, threatening many historical artifacts in the region. That's when an African collector and adventurer, Abdel Kader Haidara, took it upon himself to salvage and smuggle more than 370,000 ancient manuscripts out of harm's way.

Guest:

With the birth of his first-born, Brian Gordon quickly learned that parenting wasn't exactly what he'd expected, much less what had been promised. So Gordon turned to cartooning, creating a duck family to comment on the joys and pains of parenthood in Fowl Language: Welcome to Parenting

As we're in the midst of another election season, we hear a lot about how each candidate seems "presidential." What does that word mean, and what does it say about us? An editor who publishes books about the presidency shares his thoughts.

Guest:

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City writer Angela Cervantes won an International Latino Book Award in 2014 for her first book, Gaby, Lost and Found. Published by Scholastic Press, the book helped establish Cervantes, originally a poet and short-story writer, as an author of middle-grade fiction (for audiences between the ages of 8-12).

Courtesy Historic Kansas City

“Adult" coloring books are hot right now. Some 12 million coloring books sold in 2015, up from just 1 million the year before, according to the Nielsen Bookscan.

Some claim coloring is therapeutic. It’s undeniably nostalgic, but no matter the reason, The First Kansas City Coloring Book resurfacing now is certainly an example of good timing.

It's Leavenworth, Kan., in the 1980s. Two young boys. One escaped convict. Two recently divorced parents too absorbed in their own struggles to fully supervise their children. An apartment-complex swimming pool. A mysterious new friend. 

Meet the Leavenworth-born novelist behind this vision.

Guests:

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

The Reading Reptile children's bookstore in Kansas City's Brookside neighborhood will close on March 12, its owners announced on Monday.

The owners of a popular children's bookstore in Brookside are moving on to their new project: an immersive "explorastorium" for children's literature, to be called The Rabbit Hole. The inside scoop on this couple's love affair with stories, books, paper-mache... and each other. 

Guests:

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Pete Cowdin and Deb Pettid, longtime owners of the Reading Reptile children's bookstore in Brookside, are transitioning out of that business and turning their energies toward what they say will ultimately be something resembling a museum dedicated to children's literature.

But they also say it will be a place where visitors will be fully immersed in the books' narratives. 

Todd Wade / Flickr -- CC

The year is 2300 and Kansas City — as we know it — no longer exists.

The Eastern Empire — a loose federation of Chinese-led nations — has claimed the West Coast of the United States.

The refugee crisis from Americans fleeing east over the Rockies triggered a cataclysmic civil war, pitting the extremely wealthy against the extremely poor.

The very rich won, and the new nation that emerges has been restructured into a formalized, class-driven society.

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