I think it's really weird that in school you always have to read books that are decades if not centuries old. Don't get me wrong: They're great books, and they should be read. But it irks me that there's a derisive attitude toward books written more recently, especially if they're popular (What, we can't teach "Harry Potter" or "Eleanor & Park" in school?), and I can't quite figure out why. Is it because they're written in more modern language that's easier to understand? Is it because kids might actually enjoy them, and heaven forbid we make learning fun and accessible? What is it?

Here's a list of fantastic books written in the 21st century. It's a great example of how many wonderful books have been written in our recent past, and I think more of them should be taught in schools.


Except for "Twilight." Burn the "Twilight" books.

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It is said that once you've seen something, you can't unsee it. This is exactly what is happening in America right now. We have collectively watched the pot of racial tension boil over after years of looking the other way, insisting that hot water doesn't exist, pretending not to notice the smoke billowing out from every direction.

Ignoring a problem doesn't make it go away—it prolongs resolution. There's a whole lot of harm to be remedied and damage to be repaired as a result of racial injustice, and it's up to all of us to figure out how to do that. Parents, in particular, are recognizing the importance of raising anti-racist children; if we are unable to completely eradicate racism, maybe the next generation will.

How can parents ensure that the next generation will actively refuse to perpetuate systems and behaviors embedded in racism? The most obvious answer is to model it. Take for example, professional tennis player Serena Williams and her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

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You can put this one in the "win column" for those who believe in equal pay. Leslie Odom Jr. took a stand and was not going to settle for anything other than what was fair.

The Hamilton star, who won a Tony Award for his portrayal of Aaron Burr in the most successful musical in modern history, simply sought a similar wage to white actors who had comparable roles in other musicals. As he explained to Dax Shepard on his podcast Armchair Expert, they did not contact his agent at CAA until after the announcement of the shows filming. When the offer finally came, it was disappointing.


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Photo by Picsea on Unsplash
True

It is said that once you've seen something, you can't unsee it. This is exactly what is happening in America right now. We have collectively watched the pot of racial tension boil over after years of looking the other way, insisting that hot water doesn't exist, pretending not to notice the smoke billowing out from every direction.

Ignoring a problem doesn't make it go away—it prolongs resolution. There's a whole lot of harm to be remedied and damage to be repaired as a result of racial injustice, and it's up to all of us to figure out how to do that. Parents, in particular, are recognizing the importance of raising anti-racist children; if we are unable to completely eradicate racism, maybe the next generation will.

How can parents ensure that the next generation will actively refuse to perpetuate systems and behaviors embedded in racism? The most obvious answer is to model it. Take for example, professional tennis player Serena Williams and her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Mahir Uysal on Unsplash

Two years ago, I got off the phone after an interview and cried my eyes out. I'd just spent an hour talking to Tim Ballard, the founder of Operation Underground Railroad, an organization that helps fight child sex trafficking, and I just couldn't take it.

Ballard told me about how the training to go undercover as a child predator nearly broke him. He told me an eerie story of a trafficker who could totally compartmentalize, showing Ballard photos of kids he had for sale, then switching gears to proudly show him a photo of his own daughter on her bicycle, just as any parent would. He told me about how lucrative child trafficking is—how a child can bring in three or four times as much as a female prostitute—and how Americans are the industry's biggest consumers.

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We're living through an incredibly stressful time with the global pandemic, economic woes, social and political unrest, and internet comments filled with conspiracy theorists, but that doesn't mean we can't keep our sense of humor. In fact, laughter might be the most healing tool we have at the moment.

Pandemic humor can be tricky, of course—there's nothing laughable about widespread illness and death—but it can be done. And it can even be done in a place not generally known for comedy, like a church sanctuary.

Father Nathan Monk, a former priest, shared photos from Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New Orleans on Facebook, which show how the church is creatively handling social distancing guidelines in the pews. The pews that should remain empty to keep people distanced have signs hung with blue painters tape.

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