Archive for August, 2009

August Fiction and Non-Fiction

Monday, August 31st, 2009

On the eve of September, here’s an update on recent summer reading, including one work of fiction and two of non-fiction.

Both my wife and I found Jhumpa Lahiri’s latest collection of short stories, “Unaccustomed Earth,” hard to put down but ultimately less satisfying than her superb earlier collection, “Interpreter of Maladies.” (In between, her novel “The Namesake” was also impressive and made into a movie starring Kal Penn.)

Paul Tough’s “Whatever It Takes” profiles Geoffrey Canada and his leadership of the Harlem Children’s Zone. The author had visited New Haven in May to benefit All Our Kin. He illuminates the promise, lessons, costs, and context of Geoffrey Canada’s ambitious social and educational venture.

Among the researchers Tough discusses is Joseph K. Torgesen, whose findings on the value of early intervention with struggling readers merit wider attention. Some information on Torgesen’s work appears here:

Richard Nisbett’s “Intelligence and How to Get It: Why Schools and Cultures Count” is a compelling counter — as Derek Bok and William Bowen’s “The Shape of the River” had been — to Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein’s “The Bell Curve.” Nisbett’s book deserves a broad audience. He distills a considerable review of research into a cogent argument for nurturing child development and student learning.

Best wishes to students and educators for the new academic year. . .

Josiah Brown
for the Greater New Haven Literacy Coalition

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