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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:

“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.

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.

Novelist Richard Russo isn’t known for sequels. So he’s broken new ground with his latest, Everybody’s Fool, in which he returns to North Bath, the fictional upstate New York setting of his 1993 novel, Nobody’s Fool. We talk with the author about his writing process and why he like to write about "ordinary" people.

It was a conversation with his father when he was only seven years old that laid out the direction of author Andrew Solomon's life. Now, Solomon has chronicled his travels in a new book of essays, Far & Away: Reporting from the Brink of Change: Seven Continents, 25 Years.

The great writer Pat Conroy died March 4 at the age of 70. The author of “The Great Santini,” among many others, spoke with Steve Kraske on Up To Date in November of 2013. In remembrance of the late author, we bring you that conversation. 

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.

She’s written 21 books which have been translated into 35 languages. Her list of awards — which includes a Presidential Medal of Honor — could practically fill a book itself. Chilean-American author Isabel Allende joins Steve Kraske to talk about her latest book, her inspirations and her eventful life.

It's easy to see the terrible physical injuries that war can inflict. On this edition of Up To Date, author and former Marine Karl Marlantes talks about recovering from the invisible wounds of war. He recalls his service in Vietnam, speaks of regrets and talks about how combat can hurt one's moral core.

Jen Mann

Mouthy blogger and New York Times bestselling author Jen Mann is at it again.

In her latest book, Spending the Holidays With People I Want to Punch in the Throat, the Overland Park writer takes down "humblebraggers," elves and bell-ringers alike. 

Whether its her love/hate relationship with chocolate covered peanut butter balls, or her love/hate relationship with her kids being home on winter break, she's got something to say. 

Here is an excerpt from the book, in which Mann lists the things she hates most about the holidays:

Daniel Handler and Brian Selznick are royalty when it comes to children's literature. Handler is the mastermind behind Lemony Snicket, and Selznick wrote The Invention of Hugo Cabret​, which became a Martin Scorsese film. They talk with Steve Kraske about ideas, writing and imagination.

Chronicle Books

Up to Date host Steve Kraske makes no bones about it, he does not like cats. Find out if Francesco Marciuliano and KCUR staffers can change his mind as they explore Marciuliano's humorous book, You Need More Sleep: Advice From Cats.

Little, Brown and Company

If we learned anything from the David and Goliath legend, it's that underdogs can win, right? On this edition of Up To Date, journalist, author and critical thinker Malcolm Gladwell speaks with Steve Kraske about the traditional understandings of the weak and the powerful. Plus, the advantages of thinking outside the box. 

Clancy Martin On "Love And Lies"

Feb 10, 2015

For good or bad, we have all told lies and been lied to. On this edition of Up to Date, we talk with philosopher and author Clancy Martin about the impact of lies on love and how deceiving those we love can help preserve our most intimate relationships. 

Guest:

  • Clancy Martin is a professor of philosophy at UMKC and the author of Love and Lies: An Essay on Truthfulness, Deceit, and the Growth and Care of Erotic Love.
Teemu008 / Creative Commons, Flickr

Former Kansas City Star columnist Bill Tammeus, who still blogs for the paper, recently released a memoir titled Woodstock: A Story of Middle Americans.

It's about his boyhood in the Illinois town of Woodstock, in the middle of the 20th century. Through critical reflection on his early experiences and observations, Tammeus arrives at a handful of truisms about life in the Midwest, offered without sentimentality or rose-colored glasses, but with measured fondness.

Hachette Group

A dance hall explosion in 1929: is it murder, or an accident? One woman's journey to find the answers and a family's struggles, suspicions, secrets, and triumphs.

On Tuesday's Up To Date, Daniel Woodrell, known for his best seller, Winter's Bone, joins us to discuss his latest book, A Maid's Version

Then, Book Doctors Mark Luce, Steve Paul, and Grace Suh give us their reviews of the latest on book store shelves.

In her years as a journalist, author and cultural critic, her name has graced some of our most revered publications.

ReShonda Tate Billingsley: The Secret She Kept

Jul 11, 2012

Tia Giles is pregnant, she’s also suffering from a mental illness and her husband Lance must make the difficult decision of committing her to a mental institution to save the baby, his wife and their marriage.

Stories Of The Southern Working Class

Jun 15, 2012

On this Monday's Central Standard, author Stephanie Powell Watts shares a collection of short stories inspired by the uneducated and the the aspiring. Many of her characters are based on her own life or the lives of someone she's encountered.

Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum

What comes to mind when you think of famous Missourians? Brad Pitt, or Thomas Hart Benton, or Sheryl Crow? Well, of course, but even more long-enduring is the beloved author and satirist Mark Twain.

On Central Standard Friday, our host Monroe Dodd interviews Cindy Lovell, executive director of the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum. The museum celebrates its 100th anniversary on May 15th.

Regina Brett Follow-Up: Ten Commandments for Radio

May 3, 2012

On Wednesday's Central Standard, we were joined by fellow radio host Regina Brett, of The Regina Brett Show at WKSU in Ohio. While Regina was there to talk about her book, Be the Miracle: 50 Lessons for Making the Impossible Possible, she and Jabulani of course had to talk shop. Regina mentioned her 10 Commandments of Radio and of course she was kind enough to pass it along.

Regina Brett: Don't Audit Life & Other Lessons

May 1, 2012

It can be difficult in day-to-day life to make sure you aren't just addressing problems, but looking for possibilities to make life better.

If people can be free to act in the best interest of their company, the results will be tremendous, says business school professor Isaac Getz.