School’s Out for the Summer, but Libraries Are Still Taking Care of Kids

Plus, a new PBS series will ask us to vote for our favorite American novel, and a lost J.M. Barrie play is found

U.S. Department of Agriculture

If you’ve got those start-of-the-week blues, here’s some literary news that is sure to get you pumped for some more long summer days. Libraries across the country are serving free lunches to keep children nourished during the summer, a new documentary series on PBS will explore great American novels, and a “sensational” lost play by Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie play has been found after half a century.

Libraries across the United States are offering free lunches to children who need it

It’s undeniable that libraries make the world a better place. This summer, they’re continuing to rack up their good karma by keeping America’s children well-read and well-fed. Hundreds of libraries across the country are serving federally-funded meals in the summer in an effort to bring nutrition into an important discussion about learning and play, especially among lower-income communities. All of these meals are paid for by the Department of Agriculture’s summer food service program, serving about 179 million to nearly 4 million children this year. Not only are children of low-income communities fed, the program is also bolstering the use of the libraries for their other academic resources. “Our summer lunch effort has pushed more people into our libraries. They don’t just come for the meals and leave. They come for meals and stay,” said Andie Apple, the perfectly-named interim director of libraries for Kern County Libraries in California.

[NY Times/Catherine Saint-Louis]

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PBS documentary series will explore the country’s most beloved books

Get ready to battle over the best American book. PBS has announced that it will be releasing a show, titled “The Great American Read,” to spark a conversation about the country’s most beloved and influential novels. The eight-part series will explore the top 100 works identified in a market research survey that asked people to reveal their favorite reads. There is a catch: there can be only one title or series per author on the list. Additionally, throughout the show’s run, people will have the chance to vote on America’s favorite author, with the number one pick to be revealed during the finale. The documentary special will feature appearances by everyday Americans as well as citizens to explain their personal connections to their favorite books. It will begin in May 2018 and continue throughout the summer, with the finale scheduled for September, sure to incite some heated debates about books both hype-worthy and overrated.

[Variety/Daniel Holloway]

A lost J.M. Barrie play is found

Finding an unpublished, forgotten, hidden work by a famous writer is a dream for readers and scholars, but it doesn’t happen all that often in real life. So we should all get very excited about The Reconstruction of Crime, a play by Peter Pan creator J.M. Barrie, which was found after 50 years of languishing in a Texas archive. The play involves a great deal of audience interaction, asking for assistance in solving a horrible crime. It begins thus: “Please don’t applaud. Of course I like it; we all like it. But not just now. This is much too serious.” The Ransom Center, the site of Barrie’s archives, says the play is undated and runs to 33 pages.“It is unclear why he never had this play premiered — it might have been during a period where he was penning more serious dramas,” said Strand magazine editor Andrew Gulli.

[The Guardian/Alison Flood]

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