Happy International Literacy Day!
Sponsored by UNESCO, International Literacy Day sheds a spotlight on issues of literacy around the world.
It’s easy for those of us who are lucky enough to be able to read for pleasure to think of literacy as a form of entertainment, but UNESCO reminds us of the true weight literacy carries in our economies and our wider lives: “Literacy is a basis for lifelong learning, and plays a crucial foundational role in the creation of sustainable, prosperous and peaceful societies.”
Maybe you can’t get to the global celebration in Dhaka on such short notice, but there are always ways to celebrate literacy wherever you are.
We at The Sensible Nonsense Project like to focus on children’s books, which are often the earliest teaching tools in literacy for youth and adults alike. Why not buy a few copies of your favorites for someone in need? (We’d be happy to help you find a local shelter or literacy program where you can make a donation!)
We are saddened to learn of Robin Williams’ passing. A fine actor and a brilliant comedian, Mr. Williams was also a dedicated philanthropist to children’s causes. He also starred in two major motion pictures based on children’s books: Jumanji and Hook.
We hope that you will join us in rereading your copies of Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, and Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg — or purchasing a copy to donate to a child in need — in order to pay tribute to the awfully big adventure of Mr. Williams’ extraordinary life.
Have you seen the #IReadEverywhere campaign from the New York Public Library on Twitter?
Excellent. We hope to see your #IReadEverywhere hashtags — follow The Sensible Nonsense Project on Twitter!
In an old house in Paris that was covered in vines…
"YA definitely doesn’t mean a solely young adult readership, unless we elide (or are charitable about) the "young". At YALC Meg Rosoff revealed that 55% of YA titles are bought by adults. Presumably, some of these are gifts for teenagers, but casting an eye down the average Tube carriage reveals YA titles aplenty, read with absorption by those who won’t see 15 again. The "crossover" phenomenon incenses clickbaiters with nothing better to worry about, and induces much taking up the cudgels on YA’s behalf in return."
Our pals at the Guardian get it, they know that YA isn’t just for “the kids.” And we know that you get it too!
That’s why YOU, you YA lover you, are invited to come to wordbookstores in Jersey City at 7:30 pm for YA Show and Tell on Aug 13. Bring your favorite YA book to share with the group, and make a shelf talker, Coverspy style.
Please RSVP to the event so that we know what book you’re bringing so we’ll have some on hand! We can’t wait to spy you there!
This sounds brilliant, and totally in line with the Sensible Nonsense way. Jersey City-area fans should absolutely make an effort to attend — and tell us about it!
It’s amazing that it’s been that long. It’s amazing to me that Weetzie is still as popular as it is, even way more so than in the beginning, that she continues to draws people to her. That fascinates me. I didn’t really expect the universal qualities. It was so personal to me. I didn’t think of it as My Big Book. I thought it was my book for me and my friends, and then it turned into the one that touches the most people.
It’s been really great to be able to evolve in public in that way, to be able to grow up and write these books and have my readers grow with me. I feel very grateful and privileged that I’ve had the opportunity to express myself in this way and connect to these people. That’s the best part. Because I know these are my people. It’s like sending out a message in a bottle."
WE NEED DIVERSE BOOKS because EVERY CHILD HAS HIS OR HER OWN STORY.
Submission by Pamela Tuck
Happy Birthday Harry Potter!
(And happy belated to Neville Longbottom, whose big day was yesterday.)
According to the Potterverse, Harry was born this day in 1980, making today his 34th birthday.
What do you think his life would look like now?
Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
Your House By The Sea
When someone asks me, “What’s your favorite book?” the wheels in my head start spinning. After all, it’s an outrageously loaded question. It’s almost like asking me, “Which is your favorite kid?”
But every time I’m forced to sit down and make some kind of choice, the same few titles spin around, jockeying for position. Most of those are books I connected with as a child, through seemingly endless evenings of leaning against my mother while she read chapters aloud from The Hobbit, or closing my eyes to hear my father’s voice change completely to read an El Ahrairah in the midst of Watership Down.
But the one that meant the most to me, that still means the most to me, is Miss Rumphius.
In only a few dozen pages, that story imparted more beautiful imagery and important life lessons than any other. Miss Rumphius, who I never felt mature or important enough to call Alice, has a life that from childhood to dotage is a guideline to a well lived existence.
Here’s a woman, in what appears to be pre-World War existence, who becomes educated and independent. She travels alone, she cultivates hobbies and academic interests. She is friends with herself and she is endlessly curious about the world around her.
At the same time, in a world of children’s books filled with female characters who either become mothers or have no family of their own, family is important to her. She never expresses any sort of regret over her life choices, but clearly loves her nieces and great-nephews and all the children tangentially related to her. Who even as a child understood the importance of a connection with her family, and who as an elderly woman opens her door to her extended family with grace and love.
That’s only the subtext. That’s only the hidden lessons, taken away from watching her age as the pages turned, year after year of my own life. The text of the story too is instructive. When she listened as a child to her grandfather’s tale of travel and adventure, she told him she would also travel the world, and also live in a house by the sea.
And so she did. But it was her house by the sea, a different sort of home and a different sort of sea than her grandfather chose. And they were her adventures, inspired by but entirely different from the tales her grandfather told.
Which taught me that while imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, you can pay homage to your inspirations in your own way, with your own compass, and having had them lead you in no way diminishes your own successes.
Miss Rumphius’s grandfather told her that it was all well and good to travel and learn and live your live the way your chose, but there was one other thing. “You have to make the world a more beautiful place.”
Now, in the book, Miss Rumphius’s grandfather was a painter. Miss Rumphius grew up to seed an entire countryside with flowers. But I always took this admonition to mean something more flexible, a little deeper.
When I went to art school, I thought I too would make the world a more beautiful place. But going to school in the inner city I saw so many kinds of ugliness — poverty, hunger, addiction. And in that context, I couldn’t help but see that beauty isn’t just in adornments. It’s in removing the ugliness hiding what’s already there.
I’ve devoted much of my adult life to social justice, confident that every time my efforts help a woman fleeing domestic abuse, or a child learn to read a book like Miss Rumphius, the world is slightly more beautiful.
And maybe I’ll never live by the sea, but I will live in a place that I’ve chosen and made mine. And my heart will always be open to my family, ready to love. And most importantly, I will strive always to like myself. To do what makes me happy, and what I know is right, and to cultivate in myself that which I admire in others.
So I cherish my dog-eared, crumbling copy of Miss Rumphius, keeping these lessons close to my heart—
Any home can be your house by the sea. Any adventure can be your adventure. Be true to yourself, and someday, no matter how many years have passed, you will find that you too have made the world a more beautiful place.
Lea Grover is a writer and toddler-wrangler living in Chicago. When she isn’t cultivating an impressive dust bunny collection she waxes philosophic about raising interfaith children, marriage after a terminal cancer diagnosis, and vegetarian cooking. Her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, The Daily Mail Online, iVillage Australia, Red Shoes Review, The Dusty Owl Quarterly, and her daughters’ toy refrigerator door. When she isn’t revising her memoir, she can be found singing opera to her children or smeared to the elbow in Townsend pastels. You can follow her blog, Becoming SuperMommy, on Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, and @bcmgsupermommy.