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11-Year-Old Starts Book Club to Encourage Literacy in Young Men

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Editor's Note:

A book club to benefit kids, a SXSW keynote by Jill Soloway to benefit women in film, a literary numerical rundown to benefit readers, and a blast from the past to benefit everyone – all in today’s Daily Blunt.

After a video of eleven-year-old Sidney Keys III reading in a bookstore went viral last year, he and his mother Winnie Caldwell sought to translate this unexpected attention into a net positive for their community. The result is Books N Bros, a book club organized and hosted by Sidney that invites other kids his age to get together and read highlights from African American literature, like Hidden Figures, A Song for Harlem, or Danny Dollar. As the article points out, “Boys lag multiple percentage points behind girls in reading proficiency in every single state,” so clubs like Sidney’s could provide an essential service to young men who’ve reached that age range where many simply stop reading.

“Transparent” creator Jill Soloway appeared at SXSW last week to share some important insights into Hollywood’s shortage of  female directors. According to her keynote speech, the best way to make sure women have a path toward directing is to make sure we hire them as crew members. In the meantime, it’s important to recognize that hiring patterns that appear discriminatory often reflect people who are following the path of least resistance, on a film production’s tight schedule: “You have to basically look for women, not only identify them, but you have to find them, groom them, help them in every role,” observes Soloway. “And you have to stay on top of it every single day, because [if] for some reason that woman may fall out [a] man will be standing by ready and it’ll be easier.”

Ben Blatt’s new book, Nabokov’s Favorite Word Is Mauve, combines two inherently interesting subjects: statistical analysis and literature. For example, Elmore Leonard specifically preached against an over-dependence on exclamation points, but Blatt found that the author’s own works contained sixteen times (!!) more than his recommended amount. Meanwhile, Danielle Steele has opened nearly half her novels with descriptions of unusually pleasant weather. The Publishers Weekly article contains numerous charts illustrating even more of Blatt’s findings, sure to enhance your appreciation of many a beloved author’s signature style.

With debates brewing over whether a public broadcasting presence should be funded by the U.S. government (President Trump’s proposed budget would scrap this institution entirely), it’s important to remember that we’ve had this debate before. Watch the following video of beloved childhood guru Fred Rogers appearing before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee back in the 1969, making a case for all the benefits the Corporation for Public Broadcasting could impart to our nation’s children and adults, all of which we’ve seen come to pass in the intervening decades. “I feel that if we, in public television, can only make it clear that feelings are mentionable and manageable,” he testifies, “we will have done a great service for mental health.” Based on Rogers’s impressions, it seems that some of today’s leaders may have been watching the wrong channel during their formative years.