Kindergarten teacher and "Genius Grant" recipient Vivian Paley is the author of many books about the stories children invent and the way they play, and what it's about. At a time when schools are cutting back on having a doll corner, she tells the story of a child in her class who was sort of saved by a doll, and the story he told about the doll.
Host Ira Glass talks with Stephen Nissenbaum, author of a history called The Battle for Christmas, which explains when people started believing in a Santa who arrives Christmas Eve carrying presents. It was in 1822, and incredibly, the poem that created our modern idea of Santa is still around, known by heart by tens of millions.
A father and daughter (Adrian LeBlank and his daughter Adrian Le Blank) decide to write his obituary—together—not really thinking very seriously at first about the real meaning of what they were doing.
The publisher of the zine Infiltration talks about the pleasure and importance of going behind the scenes of everyday life.
This story is part memoir, part philosophical inquiry into the nature of not doing things. Writer Geoff Dyer had always wanted to write a biography about D.H.
Writer Sarah Miller attends a class on how to walk and talk and act like a man. It's not easy.
Ira talks with Maria, who took out a personals ad in the Chicago Reader advertising herself as "wacky and warm." (5 minutes)
In which Dan Savage, who makes his living writing a nationally syndicated sex advice column, admits that there's one group of people he does not want to discuss sex with. Ever.
How a guy named Tom became Camden Joy — and what he gained and what he lost. With Sarah Vowell.
Ira with an expert in medieval manuscripts, Sandy Hindman.
LuAnne Johnson is a teacher who sold her story to Hollywood and saw it made into the film and TV series Dangerous Minds, in which a character named LuAnne Johnson does things the real LuAnne believes are unethical and silly.
Ira talks about one of the purest expressions of ordinary folks' desire to be detectives: a child's detective notebook — full of information, secret codes, cases, and an application to become an FBI agent.
Evan Harris was entrenched in her life, stalled and going nowhere both personally and professionally. A silly conversation with a co-worker about the letter "Q" led her to start a magazine called Quitter Quarterly. That one conversation changed her life completely.
A story about Christmas at Juvenile Court by Chicago novelist/editor Reginald Gibbons.