Lynn Neary

Lynn Neary is an NPR arts correspondent and a frequent guest host often heard on Morning Edition and Weekend Edition.

In her role on the Arts desk, Neary reports on an industry in transition as publishing moves into the digital age. As she covers books and publishing, she relishes the opportunity to interview many of her favorite authors from Barbara Kingsolver to Ian McEwan.

Arriving at NPR in 1982, Neary spent two years working as a newscaster during Morning Edition. Then, for the next eight years, Neary was the host of Weekend All Things Considered. In 1992, she joined the cultural desk to develop NPR's first religion beat. As religion correspondent, Neary covered the country's diverse religious landscape and the politics of the religious right.

Over the years Neary has won numerous prestigious awards including the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism award, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Gold Award, an Ohio State Award, an Association of Women in Radio and Television Award and the Gabriel award. For her reporting on the role of religion in the debate over welfare reform, Neary shared in NPR's 1996 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton Award.

A Fordham University graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in English, Neary thinks she has the ideal job and suspects she is the envy of English majors everywhere.

Literacy begins at home — there are a number of simple things parents can do with their young children to help them get ready to read. But parents can't do it all alone, and that's where community services, especially libraries, come in.

On a recent morning, parents and children gathered in the "Play and Learn" center in the Mount Airy Library in Carroll County, Md. Jenny Busbey and her daughter Layla were using the puppet theater to go on an imaginary adventure. There are play-and-learn centers in all of the Carroll County libraries.

When it comes to learning to read, educators agree: the younger, the better. Children can be exposed to books even before they can talk, but for that a family has to have books, which isn't always the case.

There are neighborhoods in this country with plenty of books; and then there are neighborhoods where books are harder to find. Almost 15 years ago, Susan Neuman, now a professor at New York University, focused on that discrepancy, in a study that looked at just how many books were available in Philadelphia's low-income neighborhoods. The results were startling.

A version of this story was originally published on Dec. 23, 2011.

If you happen to spend Christmas Eve in Canada — especially Quebec — you might be lucky enough to be invited to a festive dinner after midnight Mass. The feast is an old tradition from France called reveillon, and it's something to look forward to after a long day of fasting.

When Jack Kerouac's On the Road was first published in 1957 no one had ever seen anything quite like it. As it turns out, that stream of consciousness style that Kerouac made famous owes a huge debt to a letter written by his friend Neal Cassady. Among Kerouac scholars and fans it became known as the "Joan Anderson letter." It was missing for 65 years, but it has been found and will be auctioned next month.

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Tom Magliozzi, one of public radio's most popular personalities, died on Monday of complications from Alzheimer's disease. He was 77 years old.

Tom and his brother, Ray, became famous as "Click and Clack the Tappet Brothers" on the weekly NPR show Car Talk. They bantered, told jokes, laughed and sometimes even gave pretty good advice to listeners who called in with their car troubles.

If there was one thing that defined Tom Magliozzi, it was his laugh. It was loud, it was constant, it was infectious.

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We heard an announcement a short time ago from Peter Englund of the Swedish Academy, which chooses the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature.

When Marilynne Robinson finished writing her first novel, Housekeeping, she felt like she still had more to say about the characters. She says, "I just decided that I would outlive the impulse, you know. But then, after I finished [her second novel] Gilead, I had the same feeling that the characters were still with me and that there was much more that I knew about them than I had ever articulated to myself. And so I thought, 'Well, let's see what's here.' And two more books have come from that."

Author Jane Smiley has a fondness for dogs. She has a couple at her home in Carmel Valley, Calif., where she lives with her husband. One of those dogs, Fallon, has a special talent: He likes to sing. And Smiley likes to accompany him on a banjo she bought back in 1972 when she was living in Iowa.

Smiley spent 24 years in Iowa. She's been gone for a long time now, but something about the place still seems to pull on her imagination.

Comics and graphic books are flourishing these days — writers and illustrators are taking on increasingly sophisticated topics and children's authors are finding just the right balance between naughty and nice. But a number of the books have come under fire from critics who would like to see them banned from schools and libraries. That's why comics and graphic books are the focus of this year's Banned Books Week, an annual event that calls attention to challenged titles.

Last spring, a group calling itself We Need Diverse Books launched a Twitter campaign to press for greater diversity in children's books. Writer Daniel José Older supports the campaign, but he doesn't think it goes far enough.

"We need diverse agents, we need editors, we need diverse book buyers, we need diverse illustrators, and we need diverse executives and CEOs at the top, too."

For many writers, a contract with one of the major publishing houses is the Holy Grail — and getting accepted to a prestigious Master of Fine Arts program may bring aspiring writers one step closer. But these elite writing programs have a history steeped in whiteness, and writers of color don't always feel welcome.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

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Author Sarah Lotz is terrified of flying, so naturally every time she gets on a plane she imagines the worst. "I imagine how it's going to smell if things start burning," she says. "I imagine the thunk of luggage falling out of the compartments at the top. ... I imagine it all in absolutely horrible detail."

All those horrible imaginings came in handy when Lotz was writing her new book The Three — the story of three children who are the only survivors of four separate plane crashes that occur in different parts of the world on the same day.

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