How a Pakistani Novelist and Translator Learned to Love Dictionaries

The Books He Once Saw as 'Villainous' and 'Unwieldy' Helped Him Introduce Children to Urdu Classical Literature

An image from a winter morning in Hyderabad, Pakistan, when I was four, forms my earliest memory of literacy.

Bundled up in layers of sweaters, I am reciting from an Urdu newspaper as I sit astride my neighbor’s pet goat. I am certain that the sequence of words or their relationships to each other made no sense to me. But my prowess in reading individual words made the exercise as meaningful and empowering as the ability to ride the goat.

That pride, perhaps, explained my ecumenical approach to reading texts …

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The Real-Life Adventuress Who Turned Nancy Drew Into a Modern Heroine

Mildred Wirt Benson Helped Invent the Fictional Teen Sleuth Who Became a Generational Role Model

Nancy Drew struggled this way and that. She twisted and squirmed. She kicked and clawed. But she was powerless in the grip of the man.

‘Little wildcat! You won’t do …

How America Invented ‘Young Adult’ Fiction for a New Kind of Teenager

In the '60s and '70s, Books Like The Outsiders and The Chocolate War Told Stories That Dealt With Complex Emotions and Social Realities

Like jazz, the Broadway musical, and the foot-long hot dog, young adult literature is an American gift to the world, an innovative, groundbreaking genre that I’ve been following closely for …

Treason Isn’t Just a Crime—It’s a Sin of the Heart

In Dante's Inferno, Traitors Are Cast Into Deepest Hell for Breaking the Bonds of Love

If you’re looking to nail someone for treason these days, don’t talk to a lawyer. The answer you’ll get will be short and likely disappointing: It’s hard to convict someone …

The Southern Writers Who Defined America

How William Faulkner and Ralph Ellison Explained the South—and Taught Northerners About Themselves

Tell about the South. What’s it like there? What do they do there? Why do they live there? Why do they live at all?
           —Shreve …