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Crayons, of course. Scented markers. Colored pencils, presharpened. And coloring books by the jillions.

Why do people like coloring so much? For grown-ups, I can totally get the nostalgia — and the simple pleasure of creating something.

But here at NPR Ed, we're all about kids and learning. And so, as parents head to the store this summer with their back-to-school lists, we thought this question was worth a serious look:

Voices Of Empty Nesters

Aug 30, 2018

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The new podcast from Radiotopia, Everything is Alive, features one long-format interview in each episode. What sets this podcast apart is the guests.

(SOUNDBITE OF RADIO SHOW, "EVERYTHING IS ALIVE")

Born into a decaying world, today's youth are only just beginning to grasp the extent to which their elders have neglected and sabotaged their futures. But the great irony of environmental science is that new, exciting advancements continue to be made even as the planet's hopes for long-term recovery slip further and further from our grasp.

The Detroit Free Press issued a stern directive to fans and would-be Instagram influencers gathering this week to commemorate Aretha Franklin in her hometown. "Remember," admonished staffer (and occasional NPR contributor) Rochelle Riley in her Tuesday column, "We will treat this like church." No selfies are allowed with Franklin's gold-plated coffin, as she lay in repose at the Charles H.

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The word "nice" is a persistent problem for journalists Michael D'Antonio and Peter Eisner in their new, hostile biography of Mike Pence, The Shadow President: The Truth About Mike Pence.

The truth about Pence, according to them, is that he is a sinister zealot, an opportunist, and a "Christian supremacist" biding his time until he can take over the presidency from Donald Trump.

But here's the problem: Sources keep calling Pence things like "nice." Luckily, D'Antonio and Eisner have a strategy — they just pretend that "nice" means its opposite.

Patrick deWitt's novels don't so much skewer genres as turn them askew. His latest is the third of a trilogy of literary hijinks that began with The Sisters Brothers (2011), a gleefully gruesome, wonky western set during the Gold Rush. This was followed by Undermajordomo Minor (2015), a sort of fairytale adventure for adults. French Exit, aptly billed as a "tragedy of manners," is a mother-son caper, a sparkling dark comedy that channels both Noel Coward's wit and Wes Anderson's loopy sensibility.

Every reader has her own idea of a beach book. Some want crime, or romance. Some want summer best-sellers, some want Moby-Dick. My definition of a beach read is simple. First, I want a beach book to be long, twisty, and ambitious. I want it to have a complete world. Second, I want it to have a strong voice. If I'm going to read surrounded by people, then the characters I'm reading about better be loud.

Writer Anand Giridharadas has a dark view of American philanthropy.

He has been writing about people who say they're changing the world for the better — except that despite their best efforts, it's not working.

It was an undercover operation set in Argentina, 1960. An elite crew of Israeli agents tracked down and secretly kidnapped one of the world's most notorious war criminals: the Nazi SS officer Adolf Eichmann, who was hiding in Buenos Aires.

Eichmann was among the major organizers of the Holocaust, responsible for transporting millions of European Jews to death camps. The film Operation Finale, starring Ben Kingsley, recounts the daring mission to bring Eichmann to justice.

Did Louis C.K. Return To Comedy Too Soon?

Aug 28, 2018

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Just after the news about Louis C.K.'s return broke, the comedian and actress Melinda Hill tweeted, Louis C.K. is spearheading the #MeTooSoon movement. Melinda Hill is with us now to talk about all of this. Welcome.

MELINDA HILL: Thank you so much for having me.

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Hundreds lined up Tuesday outside Detroit's Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, where Aretha Franklin's body is lying in repose for two days ahead of her funeral on Friday.

"This is history right here," said 22-year-old Sidney Lloyd of Detroit. His family arrived by 7 a.m. Tuesday to be among the first to say goodbye to the Queen of Soul.

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Ohio, the debut novel from author Stephen Markley, begins with a parade, but it's not a happy one. The town of New Canaan has gathered to salute Rick Brinklan, a native of the city who was killed in action in Iraq. The novel then jumps in time to 2013, six years after that parade: "It's hard to say where any of this ends or how it ever began, because what you eventually learn is that there is no such thing as linear," Markley writes. "There is only this wild ... flamethrower of a collective dream in which we were all born and traveled and died."

If you're sick of reading about the midterm elections, there's some good news: It will all be over in just a couple of months.

Then you can bask in the period of time between Election Day and the start of the 2020 presidential campaign, which sometimes can last as long as 15 minutes. And over the next two years, you can look forward to a slew of memoirs by, and biographies of, politicians who are considering running for president in 2020.

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She was the one who would not be queen.

Princess Margaret was glamorous where her older sister, Elizabeth, was, well, sensible; acid-tongued, where Elizabeth was unfailingly, royally polite; scandalous, where Elizabeth could never dream of it.

For many years, Princess Margaret seemed to be everywhere. There was her doomed, forbidden romance with the divorced Peter Townsend, then her unhappy marriage to Antony Armstrong-Jones.

In March 2011, Kim Brooks did something that many parents have either done or thought about doing — and it led to a warrant being issued for her arrest. Brooks was rushing to get herself and her two kids to the airport to catch a flight. As she pulled into the Target parking lot to run one last errand, her 4-year-old asked if he could wait in the car. It was a cool day, and so she cracked the windows, child-locked the doors, and ran inside.

In a classic episode of Seinfeld from 1991, Jerry famously declares that he thinks the worst part about being blind would be "not being able to tell if there was bugs in my food. How could you ever enjoy a meal like that?"

Tangier Island is in trouble — though that's kind of nothing new. The little island in the Chesapeake has been home to a small, self-reliant community for centuries, and it's been washing away little by little for just as long. But now, climate change is driving the waves higher.

Television is more year-round than it used to be, but fall is still a time when broadcast, cable and streaming services drop a lot of premieres. How to keep track of it all? NPR's television and pop culture team has assembled a handy list of shows to keep an eye on. Some of these aren't available for us to watch yet — but we've included shows that look promising.

So from broadcast prime time to bingeing Netflix in your jammies, here's our take on the most intriguing shows coming to you this fall:

Neil Simon, the enormously productive comic playwright who often adapted his work into screenplays, died on early Sunday morning. He was 91. The cause of death was complications from pneumonia, according to Bill Evans, his longtime friend and publicist.

Among the most prolific playwrights in American theater from the 1960s through the 1990s, he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1991 for Lost in Yonkers, which he said was his deepest play. But Neil Simon was better known for being funny.

David Bowie kind of bookends the 1970s – between "Space Oddity" in 1969 and its sequel "Ashes to Ashes" in 1980, music and science fiction crossed the streams in a way that hasn't been seen before or since – from Bowie to Funkadelic, suddenly, space was the (musical) place.

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Louisiana-born fashion designer Billy Reid had his spring runway show yesterday in Florence - Florence, Ala. It's part of a weekend where high fashion meets Southern hospitality at Reid's annual Shindig in northwest Alabama. NPR's Debbie Elliott was there.

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