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Graduation Season

Some Words of Advice to the Class of 2014
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Technology, Race and Declining Teen Literacy Rates

Young Adults Are Reading Less for Pleasure
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Not Just For Young Adults

Young Adult Fiction Enjoys a Boom
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Making Them Visible

NYCs Rescue Mission Shines A Light On Homelessness
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A Night Of Champions

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Taking The Leap

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Living Below The Line

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Dig Deeper

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A New Birthday Song

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Graduation Season

Published on May 25, 2014 by in Columns

On Monday evening, I had the pleasure of attending Centennial High School’s inaugural graduation ceremony.  Commencements always seem charged with an historical significance for those in attendance, just as they seem to whir and hum with the electricity of an unwritten future.  But Monday night’s ceremony also bore the historical relevance of being the new school’s first graduating class—a distinction that was lost on no one in attendance.

Centennial’s first graduation was not an extravagant affair—and yet it was perfect.  The absence of a high-profile commencement speaker allowed the focus to fall exactly where it needed to be: on this class of 150 remarkable seniors.  The graduating class heard from their valedictorian, salutatorian, senior class president and student body president—their peers, who shared words of encouragement and support.  Read more…

 
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Technology, Race and Declining Teen Literacy Rates

Published on May 15, 2014 by in Columns

In last week’s column, I wrote about the recent popularity of Young Adult novels, a genre that’s experiencing a boom, even among adult readers.  However, a report released on Monday by Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization that monitors how children and teens use media, reveals some unsettling—if not entirely shocking— new findings about reading rates among children and young adults.

As you may have guessed, cynical reader, children and teens are reading less for pleasure than they once did, and reading proficiency is dropping precipitously.  The report, which compiles data from several recent studies, also begins to explore the link between the proliferation of new digital reading platforms and the decline in reading habits. Read more…

 
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Not Just For Young Adults

Published on May 8, 2014 by in Columns

Every year, in lieu of a New Year’s resolution, I simply make a promise to myself.  In the cold of January, I quietly vow to spend the year ahead reading more.  I don’t attach a quantity to it, not two books a week, or 100 pages a day.  Simply more.

Nearly always, by the first week of May, I look back and realize that I haven’t gotten off to a very good start.  But this year is an exception.  So far this year, I’ve read ten books—3,000 pages—and more than half of those have been in the last two weeks, thanks to a suddenly insatiable appetite for books.

Many of the books I’ve read this year are Young Adult novels, a genre that has seen a recent explosion in popularity.  I would even argue that much of America’s best fiction of the past couple years can be found in your favorite bookseller’s Young Adult section.  But before you can walk into the Young Adult section and pick out a great book, you first must do away with any misconceptions you might have about the genre. Read more…

 
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Making Them Visible

Published on May 1, 2014 by in Columns

Last week, the New York City Rescue Mission received a lot of attention when they posted a well-produced video about homelessness.  As an experiment, the Rescue Mission dressed several non-homeless people as panhandlers, and strategically placed them on the streets of New York—in places where they would be passed by their relatives.  Nearly invariably, the relatives failed to recognize them as they walked past.

Later, the film crew interviewed the relatives—pointing out that they’d walked right past their own sister, or mother, or uncle—as shock and disbelief washed over their faces.  It truly was an eye-opener, and shines a light on just how invisible the homeless are.  The end of the video, which has received nearly 2 million views, directs you to the website MakeThemVisible.com, which also features incredibly humanizing profiles of some of New York City’s homeless. Read more…

 
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