Bettie Lehem Closs
Scripps National Spelling Bee

I lost on the word "laundromat." It bothers me to this day. I was competing in the Epsom Central School (NH) annual spelling bee. It was intense. I remember leaning back, my head propped on the edge of the headrest between words, silently mouthing prayers aimed at the ceiling. For some reason, I hadn't practiced from the list of provided words, but I read a lot, so I thought I had a good chance.

It was getting towards the end of the bee, and the teacher read out my word. "Laundromat." She said it twice, her diction precise.

A half-century after the first G.I. Joe action figures hit U.S. shelves, the man who oversaw the toy's creation has died of cancer in Rhode Island. Former Hasbro executive Donald Levine was 86. He was also a veteran of the Korean War who said that G.I. Joe was an attempt to honor those in the U.S. armed forces.

"Someday I'm going to do something to honor this military, these military people, who fight in the wars," Levine said in archive footage cited by NPR's Elizabeth Blair for All Things Considered.

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kickoff to summer, and that means the tantalizing prospect of having more time for reading stretches ahead of us — long, lazy summer days curled up with a book.

A drawing of four girls in diverse clothing


For a teenager, a diary can be a safe haven. It is a place to share thoughts that one would never speak aloud. But The Diary Play: Four Teens Tell Their Story brings those intimate details to light. Based on the teenage journals of four women who are now adults, the play asks questions about self-censorship and the boundaries between adults and young people.

Diaries cover everything from the monumental to the mundane. From tests and papers to crushes and self-esteem, it's all in there.

Wikimedia Commons

African-American, Latino and American-Indian children in North Carolina face greater obstacles to success than their peers, according to a new policy report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The report is based on indicators that measure a child’s success from birth to adulthood, such as birth weight, academic performance, teen pregnancy and family income level. 

David Benbennick via wikimedia commons

North Carolina civil rights groups are urging the U.S. Justice Department to launch a federal investigation into two North Carolina school districts that allegedly discriminated against immigrant youth.

The complaint says that Buncombe and Union county schools unlawfully complicated and denied enrollment  to two 17-year-olds, which coalition attorneys say represents a much larger problem in the state.

The State of Things discusses the importance of early childhood literacy.
Adwriter via flickr.

Most people know it's a good idea to read to their children. 

But a program called Reach Out and Read highlights just how early parents should start the practice. Reach Out and Read gets doctors to write reading prescriptions for families in the hopes of helping them jump start their children's chances for literacy.

Rocking Out At Recess

Oct 18, 2013
Justin Roberts

The New York Times calls him, “the Judy Blume of kiddie rock,” and USA Today says he is “hands down the best songwriter in the genre.” Grammy-nominated children’s musician Justin Roberts writes not only for young audiences but for parents and grandparents as well. He and the Not Ready for Naptime Players will play at 11 a.m. tomorrow at the Carrboro ArtsCenter. Host Frank Stasio talks with Roberts about his music.

Tanglewood Books


John Stanley has been telling stories to his twin boys since they were old enough to listen.

When his children started reading chapter books, he kicked his storytelling up a notch and started writing a book. Stanley's debut work, "Mickey Price: Journey to Oblivion" (Tanglewood Press/ 2013), features children traveling to the moon. Host Frank Stasio talks with John Stanley about penning his first book.


John Claude Bemis is the first ever Piedmont Laureate for Children’s Literature.  In the post-Harry Potter age, more critics consider children’s books valuable works of literature with a reach that extends beyond young audiences. 

The four girls killed in the bombing (Clockwise from top left, Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Denise McNair) /


On September 15th, 1963, the Ku Klux Klan bombed 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. The explosion killed four little girls and injured 22 others. In the violent aftermath of the bombing, two little boys were murdered.

Duke Medicine is leading a collaboration with the Durham public schools and local agencies to develop better-integrated mental health care for children. Helen Egger is a child psychiatrist at Duke and leads the initiative. She says too often kids with psychiatric disorders are shuffled between schools, hospitals, and law enforcement- each addressing the problems on their own terms. Egger wants to develop school-based models that can fill in the gaps between services.

The North Carolina Child Fatality Task Force has released new details about the state's death rate among children.

Task force executive director Elizabeth Hudgins says deaths of kids from birth to age 17 have hit a new low.

Elizabeth Hudgins: "Now there's about 57 deaths per 100-thousand children."

More than 85 people were murdered in the Triangle and Triad regions of North Carolina last year.  You may have heard about the crimes in the news, but you probably don’t know much more than that. The National Organization of Parents of Murdered Children aims to raise awareness about these losses of life.

A concerted effort by the military is reducing the number of homicides of young children by parents or caregivers. That's the finding of a report from Action for Children North Carolina. Tom Vitaglione is a senior fellow with the organization.

Big Bang Boom!

Jun 22, 2012

Chuck Folds, Steve Willard and Eddie Walker had been playing in rock bands all over the Triad when they formed Big Bang Boom, a band that makes family music. The decision was organic; they were dads and wanted to make some music their kids and their wives could love.

More than 13 million American children and teenagers suffer from anxiety, depression, eating disorders, hyperactivity and other mental illnesses. The naturally irrational, impulsive or volatile behavior kids exhibit every day makes it tough to accurately diagnose them and medicating minors is a controversial practice, particularly when the study of child mental health is considered under-researched.

Social Media & Social Change

Mar 29, 2012

This month, the San Diego-based nonprofit organization Invisible Children debuted a Web video campaign called “Kony 2012.” The short film aims to raise awareness about a man named Joseph Kony who has been responsible for kidnapping countless children in Northern Uganda and other areas in Central Africa for use in his rebel army.

Researchers at N.C. State are working with Cumberland County Schools in an effort to improve education among foster children. The university's Department of Social Work says it will examine issues that might interrupt the learning process such as frequently switching schools. Dr. Joan Pennell is a professor of social work at N.C. State and the program's principal investigator.

Durham is one of seven counties in North Carolina chosen to participate in a national, long-term children's health study. The National Children's Study is the largest long-term study on children's health ever done in the U-S. It seeks to recruit pregnant women or women expecting to be pregnant and then follow their children all the way to their 21st birthdays. Researchers will collect data from the children's environment to see how that correlates to any number of health problems that may develop.