Tag: literacy

Inspirational Quotes to Celebrate David Baldacci’s Birthday!

David Baldacci is a bestselling American novelist, who has currently published 38 novels and sold over 130 million books worldwide. His novels are generally true crime/detective stories such as Absolute PowerThe Innocent, Split Second, The Camel Cluband True Blue, but he’s also also published young adult novels! His books have been translated internationally into 45 different languages and, in addition to his popular writing, Baldacci is a devoted philanthropist who supports adult literacy across America.

Today is Baldacci’s birthday and we’re going to celebrate it by sharing these quotes straight from this acclaimed author’s writing!

Image via Amazon 


  1. “Why can’t people just sit and read books and be nice to each other?” – The Camel Club. 

2. “Today might not be so good. But tomorrow, you get another chance to get it right.” Absolute Power.

3. “The human spirit was the strongest medicine on earth. And sometimes all it needed was a little encouragement to pull off a miracle.” – The Forgotten.

4. “You know what kind of person it takes to run for President? Not normal. They could start out okay, but by the time they reach that level they’ve sold their soul to the devil so many times and stomped the guts out of enough people that they are definitely not like you and me, not even close.” – Absolute Power. 

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5. “As my father wrote, one’s courage, hope, and spirit can be severely tried by the happenstance of life. But as I learned on this Virginia mountain, so long as one never loses faith, it is impossible to ever truly be alone.” – Wish You Well.

6. “But if you don’t know where you want to go, I suppose any path will get you there.” – The Finisher.

7. “It’s not the beginning or the destination that counts. It’s the ride in between.” – The Christmas Train.

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8. “Because life doesn’t work that way. You can do everything perfectly. Do everything you think you’re supposed to be doing. Fulfill every expectation that other people may have. And you still won’t get the results you think you deserve. Life is crazy and maddening and often makes no sense.” – One Summer.

9. “Depending on the situation, sometimes you can know a person better in ten minutes than someone you have crossed paths with all your life.” – The Simple Truth. 

10. “Time doesn’t really heal, it just makes you not to give a crap.” – Split Second.


What are some of your favorite Baldacci novels? Tell us in the comments and don’t forget to wish “Happy birthday!” to this fabulous author!

Featured Image Via Wikipedia

Suds and Stories—Tackling Literacy at Laundromats

Laundromats across the country are taking on an unexpected cause—childhood literacy. Several organizations are connecting libraries to laundromats and holding free book-shares and storytimes for low-income neighborhoods.

The incentive is to boost literacy among children whose community libraries are defunct or overcrowded and under-resourced. Now children are learning the joy of reading somewhere their families frequent, without the added hurdle of library fines and fees.

These programs work through a myriad of methods, with some of them equipping parents to read to their children while waiting, hosting librarians for a book-reading, distributing and lending books, or even setting up Wi-Fi hotspots to relay educational content.

According to NYU Steinhardt Professor Susan B. Neuman, these spaces significantly increased the time kids spent on literacy activities that bolster school readiness. Her study found that on average, the children spent 47 minutes enthralled with books, drawing, writing, and singing songs.


Storytime at Bubbleland Laundromat. Image via Chicago Public Library


Notably, the parents expressed that they were patrons of the laundromat for its program, and their children looked forward to laundry day. Given that the ages between birth and five are crucial to brain development, these few hours can have a great impact on a child’s educational trajectory.

In another study on an NYC initiative, one disappointing finding was that while the children flocked to the reading spaces, the parents were not always actively engaged in the learning.

Family involvement is key to the program’s success. The study found, however, that with librarians added 30% of parents eventually participated; this speaks to the idea that more funding may raise effectiveness.

Among the many laundry laundromats that have spread across the country, a number are sponsored by the Laundry and Literacy Coalition (LLC)—a partnership between the Clinton Foundation’s Too Small to Fail (TSTF) and the Coin Laundry Association’s LaundryCares Foundation.

A woman chooses a book from a vending machine

An (Exhaustive) Beginner’s Guide to Book Vending Machines

Books are hardly the strangest thing human beings have ever put into a vending machine. Aside from our love of stories in all forms, that’s one thing all people generally have in common: we’re honestly pretty weird. One woman’s pregnancy cravings led to the invention of the cupcake vending machine, providing Mississippi, USA with twenty-four-hour cupcake access and making the rest of us wonder why you’d need to be pregnant to want junk food at four in the morning. China and Japan both offer live crab vending machines, complete with vinegar and ginger tea for an optimal on-the-go-meal. (Being from a country where live crabs aren’t commonly eaten, I DID initially wonder whether or not you could use the live crabs to exact revenge on any rude pedestrians or public transit passengers.) Then there’s the infamous used schoolgirl underwear vending machine—though Japan technically made these illegal in 1993, some continue to exist.

And what are we supposed to gather from this? That the world is a stranger place than even we, as strange people, can imagine? Sure, but also this—books may not be the strangest thing we’ve ever sold via self-service kiosk in a public place, but they’re definitely the coolest. Let’s delve into the many iterations of the book vending machine.

1. Historic Book Vending Machines

Some inventions are pretty bad—consider the pet-petter, an allegedly-convenient invention that condemns you to a reality in which you’ll “never touch your pets again!” Others, though, are pretty badass. Back in 1822, members of the public usually were forbidden from buying seditious books (and probably plenty of other things, like women wearing pants or enjoying being alive). English bookseller Richard Carlile didn’t want to be thrown in jail for distributing banned books, but there was one major problem: he really, really wanted to distribute banned books. His plan? Deposit censored material into self-service machines and give the people what they want. Of course, Carlile got exactly the opposite of what he wanted—a criminal conviction.


'Penguincubator' book vending machine

Image Via Mental Floss


In 1937, a more effective but less exciting book vending machine became accessible in the UK: the Penguincubator. The brainchild of Allen Lane, founder of Penguin Books, the Penguincubator came into being when Lane couldn’t find a book he wanted to purchase while waiting in a train station. While it’s possible that only one machine ever actually existed, it’s certain that most of us would have been first in line. Alas, book vending machines are still relatively uncommon—but so are people who take their socks off on airplanes, and yet, they’re still f*cking everywhere.



Let’s agree that books are healthier and more enjoyable than king-sized sodas. What pleasure the latter provides tend to be short-lived—which is what anxious parents suspect their kids might be if they have even hypothetical access to a Pepsi. Of course, healthy living is important even when it isn’t fun for the hyperactive, slightly rabid kiddos riding the wave of their first sugar highs. But reading is fun, and what could be healthier than kids finding that out for themselves—before their college lit classes make them read Moby Dick?


One elementary school's book vending machine



One Utah elementary school has recently opened the state’s first book vending machine, among the first handful of these machines. Yes, handful. There are currently fewer than five of these schoolyard machines: Umatilla Elementary School in Umatilla, FL and Arthur O. Eve School 61 in Buffalo, NY were the first two. Granger Elementary in West Valley City, UT has decided to encourage even healthier behavior (no, the vending machine doesn’t also dish out spinach and lectures on the value of hand-washing to these tiny human booger-farms). Instead of money, the machine will accept tokens that teachers can give to students for their work and conduct in the classroom. By collecting enough of these, students can receive the greatest gift of all—the early understanding that a book is a reward, not a punishment.


3. Repurposed Cigarette Machines

The most common vending machines dispense food and drink; cigarette vending machines, while once common, are now illegal in many countries due to changing attitudes around public health. Those that still exist either use age verification technology or are only present in establishments like bars or clubs, which bar underage people from entry. Many of these machines are now defunct, but they’re still there—and that’s led many to look for different uses. North Carolina based artist Clark Whittington began the Art-o-Mat project in 1997, replacing cigarettes with small art pieces.



Repurposed cigarette vending machine

Image Via Treehugger.com


German publishing company Hamburger Automatenverlag has repurposed some cigarette vending machines to sell books instead of tobacco products. For just €4—less than the cost of a pack of cigarettes—you could make a different decision and change your story. Will it make you feel better? In the long run, probably. But we all know books are more than capable of causing short-term emotional despair.


Some readers may recognize this concept because of Barnes & Noble (while others may be familiar because of awkward romantic encounters). Certain Barnes & Noble locations wrap novels in paper and identify them only with a brief description—genre, setting, time period, and any other notable traits. Picture these ‘notable traits’ as highly-specific Netflix categories, like ‘steamy independent movies based on books’ or ‘stunts & general mayhem.’ Though these books are generally cheaper, you take a risk when purchasing one of these books. Maybe you’ll hate it. The opposite is equally plausible: maybe you’ve even read it before! But you risk disappointment when purchasing any book, especially if you’re like me (read: insanely picky, willing to shout about poorly-realized character arcs at all times). It’s just that the reward of a life-altering story is worth so much more than the money spent.


The Monkey's Paw bookstore (Toronto, ON) features randomized book vending machine

Image Via NPR


The Monkey’s Paw bookstore in Toronto is the proud home of the first randomized book vending machine. Stephen Fowler, the store’s owner, originally thought that a store employee might stand inside the machine and physically drop the book down to the customer. The bookstore employee, presumably, thought about quitting on the spot. With a little common sense, Fowler saw the line between ‘stroke of genius’ and ‘stroking out.’ Now, the machine is made out of a metal locker to suit the store’s vintage aesthetic. Notice how lockers aren’t transparent? For $2, customers get the pleasure of a complete surprise.

The front of the machine reads: “collect all 112 million titles.” It could be a joke—but it could be a challenge.


Featured Image Via Art4d.com