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1. THREE WISE SAYINGS


Life is a mirror of your consistent thoughts.
- Napoleon Hill

Practice hope. As hopefulness becomes a habit,
you can achieve a permanently happy spirit.
- Norman Vincent Peale


Plant the seed of desire in your mind and it forms a nucleus
with power to attract to itself everything needed for its fulfillment.
- Robert Collier
 

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2. Washington, D.C. Best Kept Secrets

Hi!Washington, D.C. Travel Tips for Families!

I’ve been a United States President fanatic since first grade, so it was only natural that my mom started bringing me to Washington, D.C. during summer vacations. I’ve been there three times, and here are some tips I’ve learned.

Washington D.C. Capitol building

Photo by Nicholas Raymond

Tip #1: Everything is awesome, especially the D.C. Metro.
The Metro is an underground subway, and it is a good way to get around D.C. It’s safe, clean, and easy to use. Within a few days I learned all the lines to take. Some places don’t have a Metro stop nearby, so be ready to walk a little. It will be worth it because you are probably going somewhere awesome.

Tip #2: Get more out of your Capitol building tour.
You can book a tour through the Capitol building website or through your congressional representative. I’ve done both, and the tour from my Congressperson’s office was way better. I got to see more stuff, such as the Brumidi Corridors and the spot where George Washington laid the original cornerstone for the Capitol. It was also a smaller group, so there was more time for questions. Remember to pick up your passes to see a session of the Senate or House of Representatives. If you get lucky, you might be able to see a debate in action. I saw a minor debate and it was totally worth the line.

Tip #3: National Postal Museum: Mail yourself to a great time!
I was really surprised by this museum. I thought it would be boring, but it was extremely fun. It was interesting to see how mail delivery developed from pony carts to modern trucks and airplanes. When I was there I saw a Titanic and Hindenburg exhibit on how these accidents disrupted the mail system. I also learned about a mail dog named Owney.

Tip #4: Make a visit to Woodrow Wilson’s home.
This is not the first thing you think of when you go to D.C. (unless your parents are Princeton University alumni). You get to see Woodrow Wilson’s whole house, from the kitchen to his room. An especially interesting thing is the elevator he used to get around, since he had a wheelchair at the end of his life.

These places are just an introduction to D.C. There is a truckload full of more sites, memorials, branches of government, and museums to visit. Have fun!

Beata, Scholastic Kids Council

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3. MaltaComicCon 2014

Best Convention on the Planet

Hi Folks,

Well, by the time you read this little promotional missive I shall be en route to the best convention known to mankind – MALTACOMICCON in the capital city of Vallettaon the beautiful Mediterranean island of Malta.

Over the past six years I have been invited out a total of seven times by some of the most wonderful people you could ever hope to meet. I feel extremely humbled and honoured to be in this very privileged position. I now look on the organisers as great friends whom I visit every year on the run up to Christmas.

Truth told, my continued involvement with the guys this year, with the passing of my Mum has given me the impetus to carry on and get back into working again – indeed it gave me back my deadlines. Although I am still a few days off completing the final pencils, something I had hoped to pull back in time for the convention, I have, however completed all the layouts onto the Bristol board and will be showing those as stats along with the completed pencils for the pages thus far. To all intents and purposes the second book’s storytelling (the most important thing for me) is complete at long last. I just wish Mum was here to share that with me.

I am looking forward to showcasing and launching 2 NEW products, which will go on general release upon my return to the UK.

The first is my second Sketchbook: “12 – The Witching Hour”


 The second is as yet a TOP SECRET, other than the Teaser Art below:


 I am excited, as always and cannot wait to meet everyone there.

The Venue has to be seen to be believed; a medieval fortress with walls so thick you could not span it with arms outstretched. Little wonder, Malta has never been successfully invaded and conquered.

With this year’s events, I was remiss in publishing the Blogs from my notes I created upon my return from last year’s event. They remain languishing in limbo, but at some point it would be nice to write them up properly. I will however be Blogging about this year’s event, again upon my return.

In the meantime, watch out Twitter Fans for my Tweets – @TimPWizardsKeep – that is, if I can find the time during the convention. There is so much for folks to see and do there, it’s finding the time to fit it all in.

Oh, well, I’m off now, but look forward to telling of my exploits on the island this time around, real soon…  

Until next time, have fun!

Tim Perkins…
November 27th 2014

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4. GOBBLE GOBBLE MUTHA*****Z






(Yes, she's a chicken, not a turkey. Do not care.)

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5. Thanksgiving Day Parade Trivia ANSWERS

Thanksgiving Trivia QuizRead the answers to our Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Trivia Quiz.

To get you in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I posted a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Trivia Quiz! Did you gobble up the questions, and spit out the answers? Or did it give you indigestion? (I hope not!) Without further ado, check out the answers below:

Thanksgiving Day Parade

Photo by Sachyn Mital

  1. Which city is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade held in? ANSWER: New York City. It starts at 77th St./Central Park West and ends at 34th St. in front of Macy’s . . . (of course).
  2. Who is always on the LAST float in the parade? ANSWER: B) Santa Claus! Every year since 1924 Santa and Mrs. Claus close the parade.
  3. Which book character will be a balloon in the 2014 parade? ANSWER: A) Greg Heffley! Although I would like to see Slappy one year . . . 
  4. Macy’s symbol is a red _________. ANSWER: Star.
  5. The Radio City _________ also perform a famous holiday dance number in the parade. ANSWER: Radio City Rockettes.
  6. Which character has never been a balloon in the parade? ANSWER: D) Elsa from Frozen. Although Idina Menzel (the actress who does Elsa’s voice) is set to perform this year!
  7. Which float has been in the parade for 40 years straight? ANSWER: A) Sesame Street!
  8. In 1997, several balloons had to come down due to high winds and safety concerns during the parade. Which balloon caused the most serious damage? ANSWER: A) The Cat in the Hat. The balloon was as tall as a 6-story building, and was careening out of control before it crashed into and broke the arm off a lamp post at 72nd St. Those winds can be hazardous!

Hope you enjoy the parade and turkey today! Gobble, gobble.

Ratha, Stacks Writer

 

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6. Earth to YA, Part 1: Environmental Ethics and the Young Adult Author

Lately I’ve been feeling a lot of distress about the destruction of wild places, and my own part in that. I wonder if my new book is worth the trees it’s going to be printed on. I wonder if all the writing and publishing advice I’ve posted here over the years has done nothing but validate the smash and grab mentality that dominates our culture—get the book deal, get the movie deal, ten easy steps, let’s go! I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be successful, as an author or in any career, and the more I think about it, the louder the words of David W. Orr repeat themselves in my head:

The truth is that without significant precautions, education can equip people merely to be more efficient vandals of the earth.”

            In other words, the “success” for which we educate young people and to which we ourselves aspire is associated with exponentially higher levels of environmental destruction. And that really sucks.
            If you are a “successful” real estate developer, you bulldoze far more acres of forest or wetland than an unsuccessful one.
            If you are a “successful” YA author, you might take dozens of flights, sleep in dozens of corporate hotels, cause the production of thousands or even millions of junky tote bags, action figures, DVDs, pens, bookmarks, and other “swag” which will eventually end up in a landfill.
As authors, our motivation is to make friends with Barnes and Noble, not express distress at the way our landscapes have been turned into shopping malls. We’re supposed to be flattered if our publishers fly us places or go to the expense of making promotional materials, not perturbed at the waste it represents.
We talk about our responsibility to young readers, and the important work we do in reaching out to teens who are dealing with bullying, depression, eating disorders and rape—but too often we give a free pass to the consumer culture that turns even the most sincere among us into vandals. We leave it unquestioned. Or we don’t recognize the urgency of questioning it at all.
            My goal is not to make people feel guilty, or throw cold water on anybody’s success. On the contrary, I want to point out a fabulous opportunity.
Our books have the potential to influence generations of readers, and if we give them characters who love the wild earth, who reject the system that ties success to vandalism, who question and resist the destructive culture they’ve inherited—and not only in the context of flashy dystopias, but in contemporary fiction too—our world might have a chance.
And as role models for future generations of writers, we YA authors have a responsibility to challenge the culture we will eventually hand down to them, whether that means resisting cover whitewashing, rejecting wasteful practices in the publishing industry, or writing stories that provoke teens to fight for what really matters.

            Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be using this space to conduct a survey on Young Adult literature and the earth. 
             Let's just hope it's not successful.

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7. November Books of the Month

Recommend me!I asked you all what books you were reading, and you responded with some really awesome book recommendations! I made a word cloud so you call can see which titles are most popular. Percy Jackson is still leading the pack! Check it out:Books of the Month

Now that it’s wintertime, we’re looking at a lot of time spent indoors out of the cold . . . and that means more time for reading! See a title here that you haven’t read yet? Now’s a great time to check it out!

Let’s keep this going. What books are you reading right now? What are your favorite books of all time? What’s the one book you think everyone should read at least once in their lifetime? Leave the title (or titles) in the Comments below. Can’t wait to see what new books you recommend!

En-Szu, STACKS Writer

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8. Dory Fantasmagory: Review Haiku

Clementine's spark for
a younger crew: My First
Magical Realism?

Dory Fantasmagory by Abby Hanlon. Dial, 2014, 176 pages.

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9. The Problem with Ethnic Heritage Months

Diversity 102November is Native American Heritage Month, which is as good a time as any to discuss the slight issue we have with observance months. Native American Heritage Month and Black History Month, for example, were established to celebrate cultures that otherwise went ignored, stereotyped, or otherwise underappreciated. Educators often use these months as a reason to pull titles by/about a particular culture off the shelf to share with students.

While we can generate a recommended reading list just as well as the next publisher, the problem we find with Native American Heritage Month is that it puts Native American books—and people—in a box. The observance month can easily lead to the bad habit of featuring these books and culture for one month out of the entire year. Ask yourself: Have we ever taken this approach with books that feature white protagonists?

On the other hand, observance months can definitely do some good: they remind educators to highlight the achievements of particular cultures, and can make students from those cultures feel acknowledged and appreciated. But wouldn’t it be better if that feeling and effort could be maintained all twelve months of the year?

brochure/all inclusive reading poster

brochure/all inclusive reading poster

For us, featuring diverse books throughout the year is second nature. Our approach is to dig deeper and go beyond just one month. We identify the various ways our books can apply to everyday, universal experiences and communicate this as widely as possible. We developed a ten-step process for becoming a more inclusive reader, part of a brochure that folds out to a poster (see right).

Educators stuck in the heritage month mindset can instead use the recommended book lists for those months as a jumping-off point to permanently diversify their collections. If you use particular books during a heritage month, ask yourself: What other themes does this book touch upon? How can I connect it to other parts of the curriculum or use it to teach additional skills?

Buffalo Song

Our book Buffalo Song by Joseph Bruchac is often included in roundups and recommendations for Native American Heritage Month. The book is a biography of Walking Coyote, who brought the buffalo herds of the American West back from the brink of extinction. While this book is certainly a good fit for Native American Heritage Month, it can also be used to teach about many other things, such as:

• Environmental conservation
• Nonfiction and biography
• Core values like perseverance and respect

Our literacy specialist even details ways it can be used in conjunction with trips to state and national parks.

Now here’s a challenge for you: Take the books used this month to celebrate Native American Heritage Month and brainstorm ways that they can be used throughout the year. We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.


Filed under: Diversity 102, Diversity, Race, and Representation Tagged: African/African American Interest, Asian/Asian American, diversity, Educators, Latino/Hispanic/Mexican, Native American

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10. Gallagher Girls Readalikes

Gallagher Girls book coverFor Gallagher Girls Fans!

If you like the Gallagher Girls series (for ages 12 and up) by Ally Carter about the Gallagher Academy for Exception Young Women, here are some more books for ages 11-13 about “exceptional” young detectives and spies.

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
Four children are selected for a secret undercover mission while attending the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened. See also the other books in the Mysterious Benedict Society series.

Gilda Joyce, Psychic Investigator by Jennifer Allison
Since her father’s death, Gilda Joyce is determined to hone her psychic skills to communicate with the other side, and become an investigator of mysteries of chilling proportions. See also the other books in the Gilda Joyce series.

Down the Rabbit Hole by Peter Abrahams
13-year-old Ingrid adores Sherlock Holmes and channels his skills while trying to solve a murder in her hometown. See also the other books in the Echo Falls Mystery series.

The Ring of Five by Eoin McNamee
After a cab driver drops Danny off at the wrong boarding school, he learns that he is destined to be the only spy that can prevent an evil world from conquering the good world. See also the other books in the Ring of Five series.

I, Q Book #1: Independence Hall by Roland Smith
Sometimes it’s difficult to tell the good guys from the bad guys, as Quest and his stepsister Angela find out. See also the other books in the I, Q series.

Nancy Drew Mystery Stories Book #1: The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene
Meet the original spy girl, teenager Nancy Drew!

The Red Blazer Girls Book #1: The Ring of Rocamadour by Michael D. Bell
Follow seventh graders Sophie, Margaret, and Rebecca as they help a ghostly neighbor solve a puzzle left more than 20 years ago. See also the other books in the Red Blazer Girls series.

Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief by Wendelin Van Draanen
Sammy never minds her own business, which is why she’s the best tween detective in California! See also the other books in the Sammy Keyes series.

Spies by Clive Gifford
Do you want to learn about real spies, techniques and secret weapons? If so, this is the perfect book for you!

Jen, STACKS Booktalker

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11. What If? Review Haiku

The perfect gift for
your favorite nerd. Plus,
the robot apocalypse.

What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe. HMH, 2014, 320 pages.

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12. Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade Trivia Quiz

Thanksgiving Trivia QuizTake the Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade Trivia Quiz!

Thanksgiving Day just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving Day without the one and only… Macy’s Parade! I just love getting up, staying in my pj’s, and planting myself right in front of the TV to watch the parade, floats, and music acts. It makes it feel like the holidays are totally, really, officially here.

Originally known as Macy’s Christmas Parade, the Thanksgiving Day Parade was started by Macy’s employees. Many of them were first generation immigrants, and proud of their new American heritage, and they wanted to celebrate with the type of festivals they had in Europe. It featured floats, bands, and animals from the Central Park Zoo! It was such a success they decided to make it an annual event. But it wasn’t until 1927 that the first giant inflatable balloon debuted. Can you guess what it was? Felix the Cat.

Feel the need to march to the beat of more parade trivia? Then check out our Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Trivia Quiz:

  1. Which city is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade held in?
  2. Who is always on the LAST float in the parade? A) Darth Vader. B) Santa Claus. C) An elf. D) A really cute boy band singer.
  3. Which book character will be a balloon in the 2014 parade? A) Greg Heffley from Diary of a Wimpy Kid. B) Geronimo Stilton. C) Poseidon from Percy Jackson. D) Slappy the Evil Dummy from Goosebumps.
  4. Macy’s symbol is a red _________. Hint: It’s a shape and also a balloon.
  5. The Radio City _________ also perform a famous holiday dance number in the parade. Hint: They are known for lot of high leg-kicks!
  6. Which character has never been a balloon in the parade? A) The Pillsbury Doughboy. B) Sonic the Hedgehog. C) The Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz. D) Elsa from Frozen.
  7. Which float has been in the parade for 40 years straight? A) Sesame Street. B) The Smurfs. C) Dancing kangaroos. D) Mount Rushmore’s American Pride.
  8. In 1997, several balloons had to come down due to high winds and safety concerns during the parade. Which balloon caused the most serious damage? A) The Cat in the Hat. B) Superman. C) Hello Kitty. D) Buzz Lightyear.
  9. Which character would YOU would like to see as a balloon in this year’s parade? Wouldn’t it be cool to see some of your favorite book characters come to life? I would love to see Harry Potter . . . or Voldemort! (He could fire spells and smoke at the spectators!) 

Gobble up, and leave your answers in the Comments below. Come back on Thanksgiving Day for the answers!

– Ratha, Stacks Writer

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13. Thanksgiving Dog Create a Caption

Create a Caption for Thanksgiving Dog!

Thanksgiving Dog dressed as turkey

Happy Thanksgiving from the Churkey photo by Pinké

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends on the STACKS! What do you think this turkey/dog is saying? I think he might be saying, “Don’t eat me! I’m not really a turkey!!”

Leave your caption in the Comments, and have a wonderful Turkey Day!

Sonja, STACKS Staffer

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14. 5 Ways to Differentiate Assignments & Tasks: Part 2

Differentiated, or tiered, assignments provide students opportunities for individual understanding and growth in learning. differentiation part 2 copyActivities, projects, and tasks that educators create for their students can be used with flexible groups to address common learning needs.

Based on students’ diverse needs, educators differentiate by manipulating one or more of the following: content (what students learn), process (how students learn it), and product (what students create to demonstrate their learning).

Within those three domains, educators can differentiate based on challenge, complexity, resources, process, and product. We will tackle 5 ways to differentiate assignments using the Adventures Around the World series by Ted and Betsy Lewin.

Differentiate by Challenge Level:

We use Bloom’s Taxonomy as a guide to develop instructional tasks with differing degrees of challenging demands. Based on the rigor and complexity of what is being taught, we can design and categorize assignments using the following classifications from Bloom’s levels of higher thinking: recall, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, and create.

Example: Top to Bottom: Down Undermain_toptobottom_cover

Recall: List the different types of wildlife that live in northern and southern Australia, and classify them as mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians, or fish.

Understand: Identify and explain the adaptations of the platypus or echidna in their habitats.

Create: Design a new Australian animal incorporating the characteristics of two animal classifications (mammal, reptile, amphibian, bird, fish) and a written explanation supporting your reasons.

Differentiate by Complexity:

Increasing the complexity of an assigned task involves differentiating the content, or an introductory vs a more advanced activity focus. This involves strategically developing learning objectives and understanding what students should be able to do. Again, Bloom’s Taxonomy can help guide the development of least, more, and most complex tasks for your students.

In the following example, all of the students are required to write an informational essay, but the lens of their research differs in complexity.

Example: Horse Song: The Naadam of Mongoliamain_horsesong_pb_cover

Least complex: Write an informational essay about the tradition of the Naadam horse racing in Mongolia.

More complex: Write an informational essay about the tradition of the Naadam horse racing in Mongolia and evaluate the pros and cons.

Most complex: Write an informational essay about the tradition of the Naadam horse racing in Mongolia and determine your opinion, presenting a convincing argument either for or against the horse races.

Differentiate by Resource:

Differentiating by resource should be approached with thoughtful consideration of students. This requires thinking about their reading strengths and needs, as well as students’ interest in and prior knowledge about a topic. Differentiating by resource may involve selecting supplementary reading materials, such as articles, magazines, and primary documents, and using visual aids, including videos, charts, and graphic organizers. Offering all students opportunities to engage with different resources and assigning age-appropriate materials to groups of students supports collaboration and inclusion of readers of all levels.

Example: Gorilla Walkmain_gorillawalk_cover

Lower-level readers: Provide supplementary informational texts or materials about the endangered mountain gorilla on a lower reading level, such as a pre-reading guide/outline for Gorilla Walk, an audio recording of Gorilla Walk to listen to as students read along, or a graphic organizer to record notes as students read.

Advanced readers: Provide challenging supplementary articles or texts about the endangered mountain gorilla or animal habituation and critical-thinking questions to answer as students read the text.

Differentiate by Process:

When students are expected to achieve similar outcomes, such as understanding new vocabulary words, teachers often differentiate assignments by how students will achieve expected learning objectives. Therefore, how students engage with the content involves considering how challenging and complex the process or strategy is for the student, as well as offering varying and supplementary resources.

Example: Elephant Questmain_elephantquest_cover

Vocabulary words: delta, protrude, submerge, matriarch, bounding, intent, emerge

  • Frayer Model: Students will use the Frayer model to: define the word in their own words, list essential characteristics of the word/concept, and provide both examples and nonexamples.
  • LINCS strategy: (on an index card)

L: List the word + definition

I: Identify a reminding word

N: Note a LINCing story

C: Create a LINCing picture

S: Self-test

Differentiate by Product:

When students are all provided with the same materials, educators may decide to differentiate the assignment by outcommain_pufflingpatrol_covere, or what students are expected to be able to do in order to demonstrate gained knowledge. Differentation by product is valuable in encouraging student success and practice in other areas of thinking and learning.

Example: Puffling Patrol

Visual/Spatial: Create an informational video advertisement persuading people to join the Puffling Patrol on the island of Heimaey.

Verbal/Linguistic: Create an informational brochure persuading people to join the Puffling Patrol on the island of Heimaey.

For further reading on differentiation:

  • 5 Harmful Differentiation Myths: Part 1
  • Heacox, D. (2012). Differentiating instruction in the regular classroom: How to reach and teach all learners. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit Publishing, Inc.

Veronica SchneiderVeronica has a degree from Mount Saint Mary College and joined LEE & LOW in the fall of 2014. She has a background in education and holds a New York State childhood education (1-6) and students with disabilities (1-6) certification. When she’s not wandering around New York City, you can find her hiking with her dog Milo in her hometown in the Hudson Valley, NY.


Filed under: Common Core State Standards, Educator Resources Tagged: Educators, ELA common core standards, literacy, teaching resources

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15. Hand to Mouth: Review Haiku

A cold slap of water
in the face on the problem
of poverty.

Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America by Linda Tirado. Putnam, 2014, 195 pages.

0 Comments on Hand to Mouth: Review Haiku as of 11/21/2014 6:38:00 AM
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16. What Daniel Handler’s National Book Award Comments Say About Publishing

Last night, the National Book Awards (NBA) ceremony took place here in NYC. There were many things to celebrate at the event, including Jacqueline Woodson’s NBA win for her book Brown Girl Dreaming, First Book Founder Kyle Zimmer being honored for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community, and Ursula K. LeGuinn’s terrific acceptance speech.

But the event took a bad turn when the MC for the night, Daniel Handler (better known as Lemony Snicket), followed up Woodson’s acceptance speech with these comments:

Handler: I told you! I told Jackie she was going to win. And I said that if she won, I would tell all of you something I learned this summer, which is that Jackie Woodson is allergic to watermelon. Just let that sink in your mind.

And I said you have to put that in a book. And she said, you put that in a book.

And I said, I am only writing a book about a black girl who is allergic to watermelon if I get a blurb from you, Cornell West, Toni Morisson, and Barack Obama saying, “this guy’s ok! This guy’s fine!”

Video here (those comments start at about 39:00)

Author David Perry does a good job on his blog explaining why Handler’s comment is so problematic, so I won’t go into that too deeply. If you’re curious about the history of the watermelon stereotype and why it’s racist, this Atlantic article linked by Perry gives a good rundown. Suffice it to say,  it’s not a nice thing to make jokes about, and particularly not a nice thing to make jokes about in reference to a very talented author when you’re a white man hosting an award ceremony. In front of a huge audience.

But what I really want to talk about is not Handler himself (who, yes, has issued a short apology via Twitter, the first choice Apology Outlet for all those who have made tasteless jokes) but the larger publishing community. Because the joke may have been Handler’s, but the environment which made a joke like that permissible is everyone’s problem and responsibility. It’s well known and well documented that publishing is, to put it lightly, homogenous. According to Publisher Weekly’s most recent salary survey, around 89% of publishing staff identifies as white/caucasian. That means, in a country where nearly 40% of the general population is comprised of people of color, only 11% of publishing staff are—and, I’d venture a guess, probably even less when you start looking at management roles.

Publishing is also notorious for being totally out of touch with diversity and race issues. Take a look at the low numbers of books published by/about people of color over the last 18 years:

Diversity in Children's Books

Yet, in this year’s salary survey, almost 40% of respondents were neutral or actually disagreed with the statement, “The publishing industry suffers from a lack of racial diversity.” As my grandma likes to say, Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.

Publishing routinely treats people of color poorly in so many ways: limiting the number of diverse books they will acquire, giving those books meager marketing budgets, whitewashing covers, creating all-white lineups at major book events…the list goes on and on. So it’s really no surprise that Handler would feel that his joke might play well to the largely white and racially unaware audience sitting in that room. And he was right, because people laughed (and, hey, The New York Times even called him “edgy”! Thanks, New York Times!)

An apology from Handler is nice, but that won’t stop this kind of thing from happening again. What is required is a true commitment from publishing: to right wrongs, to make concrete and sustainable efforts to be inclusive, to educate staff on the nuances of racism and privilege and to move toward a state of deeper understanding. There are certainly many individuals within publishing who are already committed to these things. But whether the industry as a whole will ever commit, and what it will take for them to do so, is a question I just don’t know the answer to.

In the meantime, readers and authors aren’t willing to wait, and that’s one big reason why the We Need Diverse Books campaign has done so marvelously. As of today, the campaign has raised over $108,000 to fund various projects that will increase diversity in books. That money is proof that a lot of people care and won’t let the publishing status quo, which hurts so many, reign supreme. I hope publishers will be willing to work with them on many of the initiatives they’ve developed.

In a great speech on sexual abuse in the military, Army chief Lt. Gen. David Morrison said, “The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.” I think that goes for all of us. Hey, publishing, we’ve all walked past a lot of things. Let’s not walk past this too.


Filed under: Diversity 102, Diversity, Race, and Representation Tagged: national book award, NBA

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17. Excerpt: Top 40 Democracy

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To follow-up on yesterday’s post, here’s an excerpt from Eric Weisbard’s Top 40 Democracy: The Rival Mainstreams of American Music.

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“The Logic of Formats”

Nearly every history of Top 40 launches from an anecdote about how radio station manager Todd Storz came up with the idea sometime between World War II and the early 1950s, watching with friends in a bar in Omaha as customers repeatedly punched up the same few songs on the jukebox. A waitress, after hearing the tunes for hours, paid for more listens, though she was unable to explain herself. “When they asked why, she replied, simply: ‘I like ’em.’ ” As Storz said on another occasion, “Why this should be, I don’t know. But I saw waitresses do this time after time.” He resolved to program a radio station following the same principles: the hits and nothing but the hits.

Storz’s aha moment has much to tell about Top 40’s complicated relationship to musical diversity. He might be seen as an entrepreneur with his ear to the ground, like the 1920s furniture salesman who insisted hillbilly music be recorded or the 1970s Fire Island dancer who created remixes to extend the beat. Or he could be viewed as a schlockmeister lowering standards for an inarticulate public, especially women —so often conceived as mass-cultural dupes. Though sponsored broadcasting had been part of radio in America, unlike much of the rest of the world, since its beginnings, Top 40 raised hackles in a postwar era concerned about the numbing effects of mass culture. “We become a jukebox without lights,” the Radio Advertising Bureau’s Kevin Sweeney complained. Time called Storz the “King of the Giveaway” and complained of broadcasting “well larded with commercials.”

Storz and those who followed answered demands that licensed stations serve a communal good by calling playlist catholicity a democracy of sound: “If the public suddenly showed a preference for Chinese music, we would play it . . . I do not believe there is any such thing as better or inferior music.” Top 40 programmer Chuck Blore, responding to charges that formats stifled creative DJs, wrote, “He may not be as free to inflict his musical taste on the public, but now, and rightfully, I think, the public dictates the popular music of the day.” Mike Joseph boasted, “When I first go into a market, I go into every record store personally. I’ll spend up to three weeks doing interviews, with an average of forty-five minutes each. And I get every single thing I can get: the sales on every configuration, every demo for every single, the gender of every buyer, the race of every buyer. . . . I follow the audience flow of the market around the clock.” Ascertaining public taste became a matter of extravagant claim for these professional intermediaries: broadcasting divided into “dayparts” to impact commuters, housewives, or students.

Complicating the tension between seeing formats as pandering or as deferring to popular taste was a formal quality that Top 40 also shared with the jukebox: it could encompass many varieties of hits or group a subset for a defined public. This duality blurred categories we often keep separate. American show business grew from blackface minstrelsy and its performative rather than innate notion of identity —pop as striking a pose, animating a mask, putting on style or a musical. More folk and genre-derived notions of group identity, by contrast, led to the authenticity-based categories of rock, soul, hip-hop, and country. Top 40 formats drew on both modes, in constantly recalibrated proportions. And in doing so, the logic of formats, especially the 1970s format system that assimilated genres, unsettled notions of real and fake music.

Go back to Storz’s jukebox. In the late 1930s, jukeboxes revived a record business collapsed by free music on radio and the Great Depression. Jack Kapp in particular, working for the US branch of British-owned Decca, tailored the records he handled to boom from the pack: swing jazz dance beats, slangy vernacular from black urban culture, and significant sexual frankness. This capitalized on qualities inherent in recordings, which separated sound from its sources in place, time, and community, allowing both new artifice — one did not know where the music came from, exactly — and new realism: one might value, permanently, the warble of a certain voice, suggesting a certain origin. Ella Fitzgerald, eroticizing the nursery rhyme “A-Tisket, A-Tasket” in 1938 on Decca, with Chick Webb’s band behind her, could bring more than a hint of Harlem’s Savoy Ballroom to a place like Omaha, as jukeboxes helped instill a national youth culture. Other jukeboxes highlighted the cheating songs of honky-tonk country or partying &B: urban electrifications of once-rural sounds. By World War II, pop was as much these brash cross-genre jukebox blends as it was the Broadway-Hollywood-network radio axis promoting Irving Berlin’s genteel “White Christmas.”

Todd Storz’s notion of Top 40 put the jukebox on the radio. Records had not always been a radio staple. Syndicated network stations avoided “canned music”; record labels feared the loss of sales and often stamped “Not Licensed for Radio Broadcast” on releases. So the shift that followed television’s taking original network programming was twofold: local radio broadcasting that relied on a premade consumer product. Since there were many more records to choose from than network shows, localized Top 40 fed a broader trend that allowed an entrepreneurial capitalism — independent record-label owners such as Sam Phillips of Sun Records, synergists such as American Bandstandhost Dick Clark, or station managers such as Storz—to compete with corporations like William Paley’s Columbia Broadcasting System, the so-called Tiffany Network, which included Columbia Records. The result, in part, was rock and roll, which had emerged sonically by the late 1940s but needed the Top 40 system to become dominant with young 45 RPM – singles buyers by the end of the 1950s.

An objection immediately presents itself, one that will recur throughout this study: Was Top 40 rock and roll at all, or a betrayal of the rockabilly wildness that Sam Phillips’s roster embodied for the fashioning of safe teen idols by Dick Clark? Did the format destroy the genre? The best answer interrogates the question: Didn’t the commerce-first pragmatism of formatting, with its weak boundaries, free performers and fans inhibited by tighter genre codes? For Susan Douglas, the girl group records of the early 1960s made possible by Top 40 defy critics who claim that rock died between Elvis Presley’s army induction and the arrival of the Beatles. Yes, hits like “Leader of the Pack” were created by others, often men, and were thoroughly commercial. Yes, they pulled punches on gender roles even as they encouraged girls to identify with young male rebels. But they “gave voice to all the warring selves inside us struggling.” White girls admired black girls, just as falsetto harmonizers like the Beach Boys allowed girls singing along to assume male roles in “nothing less than musical cross-dressing.” Top 40’s “euphoria of commercialism,” Douglas argues, did more than push product; “tens of millions of young girls started feeling, at the same time, that they, as a generation, would not be trapped.” Top 40, like the jukebox before it and MTV afterward, channeled cultural democracy: spread it but contained it within a regulated, commercialized path.

We can go back further than jukebox juries becoming American Bandstands. Ambiguities between democratic culture and commodification are familiar within cultural history. As Jean-Christophe Agnew points out in his study Worlds Apart, the theater and the marketplace have been inextricable for centuries, caught up as capitalism developed in “the fundamental problematic of a placeless market: the problems of identity, intentionality, accountability, transparency, and reciprocity that the pursuit of commensurability invariably introduces into that universe of particulate human meanings we call culture.” Agnew’s history ranges from Shakespeare to Melville’s Confidence Man, published in 1857. At that point in American popular culture, white entertainers often performed in blackface, jumping Jim Crow and then singing a plaintive “Ethiopian” melody by Stephen Foster. Eric Lott’s book on minstrelsy gives this racial mimicry a handy catchphrase: Love and Theft. Tarred-up actors, giddy with the new freedoms of a white man’s democracy but threatened by industrial “wage slavery,” embodied cartoonish blacks for social comment and anti-bourgeois rudeness. Amid vicious racial stereotyping could be found performances that respectable theater disavowed. Referring to a popular song of the era, typically performed in drag, the New York Tribune wrote in 1853, “ ‘Lucy Long’ was sung by a white negro as a male female danced.” And because of minstrelsy’s fixation on blackness, African Americans after the Civil War found an entry of sorts into entertainment: as songwriter W. C. Handy unceremoniously put it, “The best talent of that generation came down the same drain. The composers, the singers, the musicians, the speakers, the stage performers —the minstrel shows got them all.” If girl groups showcase liberating possibility in commercial constraints, minstrelsy challenges unreflective celebration.

Entertainment, as it grew into the brashest industry of modernizing America, fused selling and singing as a matter of orthodoxy. The three-act minstrel show stamped formats on show business early on, with its songand-dance opening, variety-act olio, and dramatic afterpiece, its interlocutors and end men. Such structures later migrated to variety, vaudeville, and Broadway. After the 1890s, tunes were supplied by Tin Pan Alley sheet-music publishers, who professionalized formula songwriting and invented “payola”— ethically dubious song plugging. These were song factories, unsentimental about creativity, yet the evocation of cheap tinniness in the name was deliberately outrageous, announcing the arrival of new populations —Siberian-born Irving Berlin, for example, the Jew who wrote “White Christmas.” Tin Pan Alley’s strictures of form but multiplicity of identity paved the way for the Brill Building teams who wrote the girl group songs, the Motown Records approach to mainstreaming African American hits, and even millennial hitmakers from Korean “K-Pop” to Sweden’s Cheiron Studios. Advertisers, Timothy Taylor’s history demonstrates, used popular music attitude as early as they could —sheet-music parodies, jingles, and the showmanship of radio hosts like crooner Rudy Vallee designed to give products “ginger, pep, sparkle, and snap.”

The Lucky Strike Hit Parade, a Top 40 forerunner with in-house vocalists performing the leading tunes, was “music for advertising’s sake,” its conductor said in 1941.

Radio, which arrived in the 1920s, was pushed away from a BBC model and toward what Thomas Streeter calls “corporate liberalism” by leaders like Herbert Hoover, who declared as commerce secretary, “We should not imitate some of our foreign colleagues with governmentally controlled broadcasting supported by a tax upon the listener.” In the years after the 1927 Radio Act, the medium consolidated around sponsor-supported syndicated network shows, successfully making radio present by 1940 in 86 percent of American homes and some 6.5 million cars, with average listening of four hours a day. The programming, initially local, now fused the topsy-turvy theatrics of vaudeville and minstrelsy —Amos ’n’ Andy ranked for years with the most popular programs —with love songs and soap operas aimed at the feminized intimacy of the bourgeois parlor. Radio’s mass orientation meant immigrants used it to embrace a mainstream American identity; women confessed sexual feelings for the likes of Vallee as part of the bushels of letters sent to favored broadcasters; and Vox Pop invented the “man on the street” interview, connecting radio’s commercialized public with more traditional political discourse and the Depression era’s documentary impulse. While radio scholars have rejected the view of an authoritarian, manipulative “culture industry,” classically associated with writers such as the Frankfurt School’s Theodor Adorno, historian Elena Razlogova offers an important qualification: “by the 1940s both commercial broadcasters and empirical social scientists . . . shared Adorno’s belief in expert authority and passive emotional listening.” Those most skeptical of mass culture often worked inside the beast.

Each network radio program had a format. So, for example, Kate Smith, returning for a thirteenth radio season in 1942, offered a three-act structure within each broadcast: a song and comedy slot, ad, drama, ad, and finally a segment devoted to patriotism —fitting for the singer of “God Bless America.” She was said by Billboard, writing with the slangy prose that characterized knowing and not fully genteel entertainment professionals, to have a show that “retains the format which, tho often heavy handed and obvious, is glovefit to keep the tremendous number of listeners it has acquired and do a terrific selling job for the sponsor”— General Foods. The trade journal insisted, “Next to a vocal personality, a band on the air needs a format —an idea, a framework of showmanship.”

Top 40 formats addressed the same need to fit broadcast, advertiser, and public, but through a different paradigm: what one branded with an on-air jukebox approach was now the radio station itself, to multiple sponsors. Early on, Top 40s competed with nonformat stations, the “full service” AM’s that relied on avuncular announcers with years of experience, in-house news, community bulletins, and songs used as filler. As formats came to dominate, with even news and talk stations formatted for consistent sound, competing sonic configurations hailed different demographics. But no format was pure: to secure audience share in a crowded market, a programmer might emphasize a portion of a format (Quiet Storm &B) or blur formats (country crossed with easy listening). Subcategories proliferated, creating what a 1978 how-to book called “the radio format conundrum.” The authors, listing biz slang along the lines of MOR,Good Music, and Chicken Rock, explained, “Words are coined, distorted and mutilated, as the programmer looks for ways to label or tag a format, a piece of music, a frame of mind.”

A framework of showmanship in 1944 had become a frame of mind in 1978. Formats began as theatrical structures but evolved into marketing devices — efforts to convince sponsors of the link between a mediated product and its never fully quantifiable audience. Formats did not idealize culture; they sold it. They structured eclecticism rather than imposing aesthetic values. It was the customer’s money —a democracy of whatever moved people.

The Counterlogic of Genres

At about the same time Todd Storz watched the action at a jukebox in Omaha, sociologist David Riesman was conducting in-depth interviews with young music listeners. Most, he found, were fans of what was popular— uncritical. But a minority of interviewees disliked “name bands, most vocalists (except Negro blues singers), and radio commercials.” They felt “a profound resentment of the commercialization of radio and musicians.” They were also, Riesman reported, overwhelmingly male.

American music in the twentieth century was vital to the creation of what Grace Hale’s account calls “a nation of outsiders.” “Hot jazz” adherents raved about Louis Armstrong’s solos in the 1920s, while everybody else thought it impressive enough that Paul Whiteman’s orchestra could syncopate the Charleston and introduce “Rhapsody in Blue.” By the 1930s, the in-crowd were Popular Front aligned, riveted at the pointedly misnamed cabaret Café Society, where doormen had holes in their gloves and Billie Holiday made the anti-lynching, anti-minstrelsy “Strange Fruit” stop all breathing. Circa Riesman’s study, the hipsters Norman Mailer and Jack Kerouac would celebrate redefined hot as cool, seeding a 1960s San Francisco scene that turned hipsters into hippie counterculture.

But the urge to value music as an authentic expression of identity appealed well beyond outsider scenes and subcultures. Hank Williams testified, “When a hillbilly sings a crazy song, he feels crazy. When he sings, ‘I Laid My Mother Away,’ he sees her a-laying right there in the coffin. He sings more sincere than most entertainers because the hillbilly was raised rougher than most entertainers. You got to know a lot about hard work. You got to have smelt a lot of mule manure before you can sing like a hillbilly. The people who has been raised something like the way the hillbilly has knows what he is singing about and appreciates it.” Loretta Lynn reduced this to a chorus: “If you’re looking at me, you’re looking at country.” Soul, rock, and hip-hop offered similar sentiments. An inherently folkloric valuation of popular music, Karl Miller has written, “so thoroughly trounced minstrelsy that historians rarely discuss the process of its ascendance. The folkloric paradigm is the air that we breathe.”

For this study, I want to combine subcultural outsiders and identity-group notions of folkloric authenticity into a single opposition to formats: genres. If entertainment formats are an undertheorized category of analysis, though a widely used term, genres have been highly theorized. By sticking with popular music, however, we can identify a few accepted notions. Music genres have rules: socially constructed and accepted codes of form, meaning, and behavior. Those who recognize and are shaped by these rules belong to what pioneering pop scholar Simon Frith calls “genre worlds”: configurations of musicians, listeners, and figures mediating between them who collectively create a sense of inclusivity and exclusivity. Genres range from highly specific avant-gardes to scenes, industry categories, and revivals, with large genre “streams” to feed subgenres. If music genres cannot be viewed —as their adherents might prefer —as existing outside of commerce and media, they do share a common aversion: to pop shapelessness.

Deconstructing genre ideology within music can be as touchy as insisting on minstrelsy’s centrality: from validating Theft to spitting in the face of Love. Producer and critic John Hammond, progressive in music and politics, gets rewritten as the man who told Duke Ellington that one of his most ambitious compositions featured “slick, un-negroid musicians,” guilty of “aping Tin Pan Alley composers for commercial reasons.” A Hammond obsession, 1930s Mississippi blues guitarist Robert Johnson has his credentials to be called “King of the Delta Blues” and revered by the likes of Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, and the Rolling Stones questioned by those who want to know why Delta blues, as a category, was invented and sanctified after the fact and how that undercut more urban and vaudeville-inflected, not to mention female, “classic” blues singers such as Ma Rainey, Mamie Smith, and Bessie Smith.

The tug-of-war between format and genre, performative theatrics and folkloric authenticity, came to a head with rock, the commercially and critically dominant form of American music from the late 1960s to the early 1990s. Fifties rock and roll had been the music of black as much as white Americans, southern as much as northern, working class far more than middle class. Rock was both less inclusive and more ideological: what Robert Christgau, aware of the politics of the shift from his first writing as a founding rock critic, called “all music deriving primarily from the energy and influence of the Beatles—and maybe Bob Dylan, and maybe you should stick pretensions in there someplace.” Ellen Willis, another pivotal early critic, centered her analysis of the change on the rock audience’s artistic affiliations: “I loved rock and roll, but I felt no emotional identification with the performers. Elvis Presley was my favorite singer, and I bought all his records; just the same, he was a stupid, slicked-up hillbilly, a bit too fat and soft to be really good-looking, and I was a middle-class adolescent snob.” Listening to Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones was a far different process: “I couldn’t condescend to him — his ‘vulgarity’ represented a set of social and aesthetic attitudes as sophisticated as mine.”

The hippies gathered at Woodstock were Riesman’s minority segment turned majority, but with a difference. They no longer esteemed contemporary versions of “Negro blues singers”: only three black artists played Woodstock. Motown-style format pop was dismissed as fluff in contrast to English blues-rock and other music with an overt genre lineage. Top 40 met disdain, as new underground radio centered on “freeform”— meaning free of format. Music critics like Christgau, Willis, and Frith challenged these assumptions at the time, with Frith’s Sound Effects the strongest account of rock’s hypocritical “intimations of sincerity, authenticity, art — noncommercial concerns,” even as “rock became the record industry.” In a nation of outsiders, rock ruled, or as a leftist history, Rock ’n’ Roll Is Here to Pay, snarked, “Music for Music’s Sake Means More Money.” Keir Keightley elaborates, “One of the great ironies of the second half of the twentieth century is that while rock has involved millions of people buying a mass-marketed, standardized commodity (CD, cassette, LP) that is available virtually everywhere, these purchases have produced intense feelings of freedom, rebellion, marginality, oppositionality, uniqueness and authenticity.” In 1979, rock fans led by a rock radio DJ blew up disco records; as late as 2004, Kelefa Sanneh felt the need to deconstruct rock-ism in the New York Times.

Yet it would be simplistic to reduce rockism to its disproportions of race, gender, class, and sexuality. What fueled and fuels such attitudes toward popular music, ones hardly limited to rock alone, is the dream of music as democratic in a way opposite to how champions of radio formats justified their playlists. Michael Kramer, in an account of rock far more sympathetic than most others of late, argues that the countercultural era refashioned the bourgeois public sphere for a mass bohemia: writers and fans debated in music publications, gathered with civic commitment at music festivals, and shaped freeform radio into a community instrument. From the beginning, “hip capitalism” battled movement concerns, but the notion of music embodying anti-commercial beliefs, of rock as revolutionary or at least progressive, was genuine. The unity of the rock audience gave it more commercial clout: not just record sales, but arena-sized concerts, the most enduring music publication in Rolling Stone, and ultimately a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to debate rock against rock and roll or pop forever. Discursively, if not always in commercial reality, this truly was the Rock Era.

The mostly female listeners of the Top 40 pop formats bequeathed by Storz’s jukebox thus confronted, on multiple levels, the mostly male listeners of a rock genre that traced back to the anti-commercial contingent of Riesman’s interviewees. A democracy of hit songs, limited by its capitalist nature, was challenged by a democracy of genre identity, limited by its demographic narrowness. The multi-category Top 40 strands I will be examining were shaped by this enduring tension.

Pop Music in the Rock Era

Jim Ladd, a DJ at the Los Angeles freeform station KASH-FM, received a rude awakening in 1969 when a new program director laid down some rules. “We would not be playing any Top 40 bullshit, but real rock ’n’ roll; and there was no dress code. There would, however, be something known as ‘the format.’ ” Ladd was now told what to play. He writes bitterly about those advising stations. “The radio consultant imposed a statistical grid over the psychedelic counterculture, and reduced it to demographic research. Do you want men 18–24, adults 18–49, women 35–49, or is your target audience teens? Whatever it may be, the radio consultant had a formula.” Nonetheless, the staff was elated when, in 1975, KASH beat Top 40 KHJ, “because to us, it represented everything that we were trying to change in radio. Top 40 was slick, mindless pop pap, without one second of social involvement in its format.” Soon however, KAOS topped KASH with a still tighter format: “balls-out rock ’n’ roll.”

Ladd’s memoir, for all its biases, demonstrates despite itself why it would be misleading to view rock /pop or genre /format dichotomies as absolute divisions. By the mid-1970s, album-oriented rock (AOR) stations, like soul and country channels, pursued a format strategy as much as Top 40 or AC, guided by consultants and quarterly ratings. Rock programmers who used genre rhetoric of masculine rebellion (“balls-out rock ’n’ roll”) still honored Storz’s precept that most fans wanted the same songs repeated. Stations divided listeners explicitly by age and gender and tacitly by race and class. The division might be more inclusive: adults, 18–49; or less so: men, 18–34. The “psychedelic counterculture” ideal of dropping out from the mass had faded, but so had some of the mass: crossover appeal was one, not always desirable, demographic. And genre longings remained, with Ladd’s rockist disparagement of Top 40 symptomatic: many, including those in the business, quested for “social involvement” and disdained format tyranny. If AOR was formatted à la pop, pop became more like rock and soul, as seen in the power ballad, which merged rock’s amplification of sound and self with churchy and therapeutic exhortation.

Pop music in the rock era encompassed two strongly appealing, sometimes connected, but more often opposed impulses. The logic of formats celebrated the skillful matching of a set of songs with a set of people: its proponents idealized generating audiences, particularly new audiences, and prided themselves on figuring out what people wanted to hear. To believe in formats could mean playing it safe, with the reliance on experts and contempt for audiences that Razlogova describes in an earlier radio era: one cliché in radio was that stations were never switched off for the songs they didn’t play, only the ones they did. But there were strong business reasons to experiment with untapped consumer segments, to accentuate the “maturation” of a buying group with “contemporary”— a buzzword of the times —music to match. To successfully develop a new format, like the urban contemporary approach to black middle-class listeners, marked a great program director or consultant, and market-to-market experimentation in playlist emphasis was constant. Record companies, too, argued that a song like “Help Me Make It through the Night,” Kris Kristofferson’s explicit 1971 hit for Sammi Smith, could attract classier listeners for the country stations that played it.

By contrast, the logic of genres —accentuated by an era of counterculture, black power, feminism, and even conservative backlash — celebrated the creative matching of a set of songs and a set of ideals: music as artistic expression, communal statement, and coherent heritage. These were not necessarily anti-commercial impulses. Songwriters had long since learned the financial reasons to craft a lasting Broadway standard, rather than cash in overnight with a disposable Tin Pan Alley ditty. As Keightley shows, the career artist, steering his or her own path, was adult pop’s gift to the rock superstars. Frank Sinatra, Chairman of the Board, did not only symbolically transform into Neil Young, driving into the ditch if he chose. Young actually recorded for Reprise Records, the label that Sinatra had founded in 1960, whose president, Mo Ostin, went on to merge it with, and run, the artist-friendly and rock-dominated major label Warner Bros. Records.

Contrast Ladd’s or Young’s sour view of formatting with Clive Davis, who took over as president of Columbia Records during the rise of the counterculture. Writing just after the regularizing of multiple Top 40 strands, Davis found the mixture of old-school entertainment and new-school pop categories he confronted, the tensions between format and genre, endlessly fascinating. He was happy to discourse on the reasons why an MOR release by Ray Conniff might outsell an attention-hogging album by Bob Dylan, then turn around and explain why playing Las Vegas had tainted the rock group Blood, Sweat & Tears by rebranding them as MOR. Targeting black albums, rather than singles, to music buyers intrigued him, and here he itemized how he accepted racial divisions as market realities, positioning funk’s Earth, Wind & Fire as “progressive” to white rockers while courting soul nationalists too. “Black radio was also becoming increasingly militant; black program directors were refusing to see white promotion men. . . . If a record is ripe to be added to the black station’s play list, but is not quite a sure thing, it is ridiculous to have a white man trying to convince the program director to put it on.”

The incorporation of genre by formats proved hugely successful from the 1970s to the 1990s. Categories of mainstream music multiplied, major record labels learned boutique approaches to rival indies in what Timothy Dowd calls “decentralized” music selling, and the global sounds that Israeli sociologist Motti Regev sums up as “pop-rock” fused national genres with a common international structure of hitmaking, fueled by the widespread licensing in the 1980s of commercial radio channels in countries formerly limited to government broadcasting. In 2000, I was given the opportunity, for a New York Times feature, to survey a list of the top 1,000 selling albums and top 200 artists by total US sales, as registered by SoundScan’s barcode-scanning process since the service’s introduction in 1991. The range was startling: twelve albums on the list by Nashville’s Garth Brooks, but also twelve by the Beatles and more than twenty linked to the gangsta rappers in N.W.A. Female rocker Alanis Morissette topped the album list, with country and AC singer Shania Twain not far behind. Reggae’s Bob Marley had the most popular back-catalogue album, with mammoth total sales for pre-rock vocalist Barbra Streisand and jazz’s Miles Davis. Even “A Horse with No Name” still had fans:America’s Greatest Hits made a top 1,000 list that was 30 percent artists over forty years old in 2000 and one-quarter 1990s teen pop like Backstreet Boys. Pop meant power ballads (Mariah Carey, Celine Dion), rock (Pink Floyd, Metallica, Pearl Jam), and Latin voices (Selena, Marc Anthony), five mellow new age Enya albums, and four noisy Jock Jams compilations.

Yet nearly all this spectrum of sound was owned by a shrinking number of multinationals, joined as the 1990s ended by a new set of vast radio chains like Clear Channel, allowed by a 1996 Telecommunications Act in the corporate liberal spirit of the 1927 policies. The role of music in sparking countercultural liberation movements had matured into a well-understood range of scenes feeding into mainstreams, or train-wreck moments by tabloid pop stars appreciated with camp irony by omnivorous tastemakers. The tightly formatted world that Jim Ladd feared and Clive Davis coveted had come to pass. Was this true diversity, or a simulation? As Keith Negus found when he spoke with those participating in the global pop order, genre convictions still pressed against format pragmatism. Rock was overrepresented at record labels. Genre codes shaped the corporate cultures that framed the selling of country music, gangsta rap, and Latin pop. “The struggle is not between commerce and creativity,” Negus concluded, “but about what is to be commercial and creative.” The friction between competing notions of how to make and sell music had resulted in a staggering range of product, but also intractable disagreements over that product’s value within cultural hierarchies.

To read more about Top 40 Democracy, click here.

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18. Books to Celebrate and Teach about Adoption

Adoption image

National Adoption Day this November 22 and National Adoption Month this November afford a time to share experiences and reflect on families. Whether you have students who have been adopted or are part of a family considering adopting a child into your home, all children can benefit from learning about adoption. Children are very curious about each other’s families, quick to categorize into groups, and intent to define what makes a family, well, a family.

Picture books provide a medium to discuss, celebrate, and learn about adoption and exploring the definition of “family.”

Book recommendations:

Bringing Asha Home

Journey Home

The Best Thing

Chinatown Adventure

Discussion Questions during and after reading:

  • What does “family” mean to you? How might the word mean something different to people?
  • What does it mean to be adopted? What might be some challenges for a family with an adopted child or for a child who is adopted? What might be some benefits for a family who adopt a child or for a child who is adopted?
  • How is this character’s family similar to and different from your own family?
  • How do this character and family share and have fun together? What do you enjoy doing with your siblings and family members?
  • How does the character feel at the beginning, middle, and end of the story? How does the main character change from the beginning to the end of the story?
  • How would you describe this character’s relationship with his/her parent in the story?

Activities:

  • Learn more about the country from which the character is adopted. On which continent is the country located? What countries border this country? What language is spoken there? How many people live in that country? Who are some famous people from that country? Find a recipeof a food from this country to make.
  • Share and reflect on this list of famous adoptees or adopters from TeacherVision by Beth Rowen.
  • Draw a family portrait of your own family.
  • Write a paragraph describing what makes your family unique and why you are proud of your family.

Further reading about adoption:

Jill EisenbergJill Eisenberg, our Senior Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 


Filed under: Common Core State Standards, Educator Resources, Holidays and Celebrations Tagged: Adoption, children's books, diversity, Educators, holidays, multicultural books, Multiracial, Reading Aloud, reading comprehension, Transracial adoption

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19. Creative Personality Quiz

CycloneVampire7 STACKS avatarTake CycloneVampire’s Personality Quiz!

This Personality Quiz is creative because the results will come from you! Answer the following questions and then write in the Comments what your personality type is. The results can be as creative as you are!

The questions were written by CycloneVampire7 who says, “I love these things, and have always wanted to make one, so yep. Here it is!”

  1. What is your favorite color? (There. I said it.) A) Warm colors such as brown, red, gold, orange. B) Rich colors such as emerald green, purple, lapis. (Look it up.) C) NEONS!!! (Me: Totally! XD!) D) Black.
  2. What are your hobbies? (These are just a couple I came up with.) A) Reading (Me: XD!!!) B) Writing! (Me: Yay! Keep going!) C) Drawing D) Other (Me: Please tell me what it is in the Comments! Pwetty pls?)
  3. Your friends . . . ? A) I have TONS and they all would support me with their lives if they had to!!!(You’re just extremely perky, aren’t you? Lol. You: YEP!!! :D ) B) I have my own special group. We like to talk about random stuff. #MEME! (Me: You just had to, didn’t you?) C) I have my besties! We like retro! Yahoo! The party doesn’t start till we- (Me: I’m so sorry, but I had to stop you there. Super sorry.) D) My bestie. We talk about deep stuff like poems and such. (Me: O.o)
  4. Fave book? (It actually tells a lot . . .) A) I like reading animal stories and the like. All the classics as well. B) Science fiction/Fantasy. I’m not as techie as you think. Seriously! C) Romance and stuff like Twilight or The Fault in Our Stars (both for ages 12 and up). D) Anything dark/scary. It could also be deep or well written.
  5. Did you like this? I’m also sorry if it sounded stereotypical. I didn’t mean to, honest. (DON’T ADD THIS! IT DOESN’T COUNT FOR YOUR FINAL ANSWER!!!) A) Well . . . It was somewhat stereotypical, but all in all, I LOVED IT!!! B) It kinda offended me . . . Still OK though.(Me: I’m so sorry!) C) Phsshaaaa, girl, I loved it! (Me: Awwww . . . Thanks!) D) ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! THIS WAS THE WORST, MOST STEREOTYPICAL QUIZ I’VE EVER SEEN!!!!! Society these days! (Me: *whimper*.) E) It was pretty good for your first one! It’s really hard sometimes to make a personality quiz that does NOT sound stereotypical. (Me: Thank you! I’ll take that into account!)

Ready for the results? You have to create your results! YOU tell US what your personality is! Leave a Comment with your creative result for this creative personality quiz!

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20. Out Today: Rose Eagle

The prequel to the award winning Killer of Enemies is finally here! Rose Eagle by Joseph Bruchac is Tu Books’ first e-novella.

Ten years before the events in Killer of Enemies, before the Silver Cloud, the Lakota were forced to work in the Deeps, mining for ore so that the Ones, the overlords, could continue their wars. But when the Cloud came and enveloped Earth, all electronics were shut off. Some miners were trapped in the deepest Deeps and suffocated, but the Lakota were warned to escape, and the upper Deeps became a place of refuge for them in a post-Cloud world.

In the midst of this chaos, Rose Eagle’s aunt has a dream: Rose will become a medicine woman, a healer. She sends Rose into the Black Hills on a quest to find healing for their people.

Gangly and soft-spoken, Rose is no warrior. She seeks medicine, not danger. Nevertheless, danger finds her, but love and healing soon follow. When Rose Eagle completes her quest, she may return with more than she ever thought she was looking for.

Rose Eagle is available directly from our website, and from your favorite ebook retailers, including Amazon, Barnes & NobleGoogle Play Books, and iTunes!


Filed under: Book News, Dear Readers, Diversity in YA, New Releases, Tu Books Tagged: diversity, e-novella, Joseph Bruchac, Killer of Enemies, Native American, native american heritage month, Native American Interest, prequel, rose eagle, sci-fi, stacy whitman, Tu Books

0 Comments on Out Today: Rose Eagle as of 11/18/2014 11:47:00 AM
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21. The Worry Tree Review

The Worry TreeThe Worry Tree (for ages 7-10) by Marianne Musgrove

Juliet worries way too much. She has problems at school, home and within herself. She can never get them out of her mind, no matter how hard she tries. She can’t stop worrying! Does that ring a bell? Do you have worries you can’t stop thinking about? Whether or not you do, you will enjoy The Worry Tree by Marianne Musgrove.

Juliet finds an old tree painted on the wall after she peels up the wallpaper in her new room. Her Nana explains the legend of the Worry Tree to her, and Juliet is intrigued. Could this solve her problems and finally get her worries out of her mind?

It is really easy to relate to Juliet’s problems because this book has a realistic amount of drama and doesn’t send characters into fake drama hysterics. I enjoyed this book because it isn’t magical in the way Harry Potter is, but it does have a mystical element! This is a very easy read; I read it in third grade in a day. Nonetheless, older kids will enjoy this too! If you are looking for a fun and easy read, The Worry Tree is perfect!

Beata, Scholastic Kids Council

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22. The Key That Swallowed Joey Pigza: Review Haiku

I wish I could have
any faith that Joey will
be okay. RAAAAGE. Sigh.

The Key That Swallowed Joey Pigza by Jack Gantos. FSG, 2014, 176 pages.

0 Comments on The Key That Swallowed Joey Pigza: Review Haiku as of 1/1/1900
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23. Starring Jules Trailer

Starring Jules book #4New Book Trailer for the Starring Jules Series (for ages 7-10)

You should watch this AWESOME trailer if ANY of these apply to you:

  • You love the Starring Jules series by Beth Ain.
  • You like catchy songs.
  • You don’t know why you aren’t famous yet.
  • You enjoy blowing milk bubbles.
  • You’re a regular kid.
  • Your teacher is strict.
  • You have a little brother.
  • You wear pigtails in your hair.
  • You like reading books that make you laugh!

If you nodded your head yes to any of those, then this series is for you. Still not convinced? Check out the trailer and rock out with shining star Jules Bloom!

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24. Top 40 Democracy

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Eric Weisbard’s Top 40 Democracy: The Rival Mainstreams of American Music considers the shifting terrain of the pop music landscape, in which FM radio (once an indisputably dominant medium) constructed multiple mainstreams, tailoring each to target communities built on race, gender, class, and social identity. Charting (no pun intended) how categories rivaled and pushed against each other in their rise to reach American audiences, the book posits a counterintuitive notion: when even the blandest incarnation of a particular sub-group (the Isley Brothers version of R & B, for instance) rose to the top of the charts, so too did the visibility of that group’s culture and perspective, making musical formatting one of the master narratives of late-twentieth-century identity.

In a recent piece for the Sound Studies blog, Weisbard wrote about the rise of both Taylor Swift and, via mid-term elections, the Republican Party:

The genius, and curse, of the commercial-cultural system that produced Taylor Swift’s Top 40 democracy win in the week of the 2014 elections, is that its disposition is inherently centrist. Our dominant music formats, rival mainstreams engaged in friendly combat rather than culture war, locked into place by the early 1970s. That it happened right then was a response to, and recuperation from, the splintering effects of the 1960s. But also, a moment of maximum wealth equality in the U.S. was perfect to persuade sponsors that differing Americans all deserved cultural representation.

And, as Weisbard concludes:

Pop music democracy too often gives us the formatted figures of diverse individuals triumphing, rather than collective empowerment. It’s impressive what Swift has accomplished; we once felt that about President Obama, too. But she’s rather alone at the top.

To read more about Top 40 Democracy, click here.

 

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25. The Sound of Music Movie Review

The Sound of MusicThe Sound of Music (rated G) Movie Review

My favorite movie would have to be The Sound Of Music! I love the story that it tells and how it does it in such a creative way. The characters sing songs to express their feelings, which is not something you see in an everyday movie. The music is what I love most about the movie. I get the songs stuck in my head for days after watching it!

I would recommend this movie to children my age for various reasons. To begin with, if you are a music lover like me, then this is what to watch because there are many different types of songs. Some songs are happy or funny, while others are romantic or sad. The actors and actresses are so talented.

In addition, the movie is all about the love that the nanny, Maria, gives to the seven kids she cares for. They learn to love her even though they want to be mean to her at first. It shows you that sometimes things work out differently than you planned. Also, the romance between the father of the household and Maria will leave you on the edge of your seat.

Lastly, this movie informs as much as it does entertain. I learned a lot about what happened during World War II, which is a very important time in history. I love The Sound Of Music, and I bet others will too. It is a classic, but also an original! I recommend it to everyone. I think this is the best movie of all time, and I can’t wait for more people to enjoy the thrill that I had when I first saw it!

Grace, Scholastic Kids Council

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