Friday, January 24, 2014

The Friday Four, Part 50


The kids had Monday off from school for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, so I dragged them all along on my regular Meals on Wheels route and then hauled them over to Holy Family Hospital, conveniently not too far from the MOW launching station.

For 14 years now - or was it 15? - Holy Family Hospital has invited the Rev. Percy "Happy" Watkins to speak on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, including a part of Dr. King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech in his remarks. It was absolutely soul-stirring to hear those words live and delivered with such passion.  Rev. Watkins' son, Paul, opened the program with a moving rendition of "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and closed with "There's a Sweet, Sweet Spirit," which brought tears to my eyes not for the first time that hour.

The boys and their friends with Rev. Watkins.
It was a good way to spend the day.  I think we'll do it again next year, too.  Anyone else want to join us?


Go check out this nifty infographic titled "The Most Loved Children's Books".  While there are some interesting tidbits about the history of children's books and specific classics, I found the statistics regarding children's literacy very sobering.

In middle income neighborhoods, the ratio is 
13 books per child

In low income neighborhoods, the ratio is 
one book for every 300 children

That blows my mind, folks.  How on earth can we expect children to learn to read, much less to read to learn, to read for enjoyment and expanding their world and imaginations, to pull themselves out of poverty and create better lives for themselves and their families, if they don't have books available? In our house, the ratio is probably close to 300 books per child, and I'm not even exaggerating.  Books are so much a part of my natural environment it never occurred to me how privileged I've been in this regard. Now I'm off to do some research about specific organizations that work to get books into the hands of underprivileged kids.  Any suggestions?


Oh, and check out this op-ed piece from the New York Times earlier this week on a similar topic.


There's been an abundance of fabulous BBC shows lately: Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife, Sherlock...  And I just discovered another!

Luther is a psychological crime drama series that, like many BBC shows, only has a handful of episodes per season.  It centers around Detective Chief Inspector John Luther, a detective who seems almost preternaturally gifted at getting inside the minds of the most disturbed criminals.  He's estranged from his wife, forms a very odd acquaintance/friendship with a sociopath, and dodges the British equivalent of Internal Affairs as they look into his past cases and current behaviors.  It is a crime show, so if you're squeamish about gore there are definitely times you'll want to cover your eyes or look away for a bit - I sure do - but there are fascinating characters in believable relationships, compelling mysteries and humor, too.  It's truly riveting television.

(And at only 14 episodes, it's not an insane time commitment, so there's that, too.)

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