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Children's books with humans, not animals more effective, study says

“Charlotte’s Web,” “Stellaluna” and “The Ugly Duckling” are among the innumerable children’s books written to teach kids lessons through situations and images involving animals. 

But a new study says books that feature humans learning lessons, instead of animal characters, stick with children more and allow for more insight into application of values and morals.

>> Read more trending news

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) and published in the journal Developmental Science, found that children who read a book with human characters were more affected than those who read a book with animal characters.

In an experiment, nearly 100 children between the ages of 4 and 6 were read one of three books: Little Raccoon Learns to Share by Mary Packard, which illustrates a fictional raccoon who learns that sharing makes one feel good and proves beneficial to all involved in the action; a version of the story in which the animal illustrations were replaced with human characters; and a control book about seeds.

The experiment found that children who were read the book with the human characters were more willing to share later in the day than those who were read the book with animal characters. And “there was no difference in generosity between children who read the book with anthropomorphized animal characters and the control book; both groups showed a decrease in sharing behavior,” the researchers found.

Reading a book about sharing “had an immediate effect on children’s pro-social behavior”, according to the study. “However, the type of story characters significantly affected whether children became more or less inclined to behave pro-socially. After hearing the story containing real human characters, young children became more generous. In contrast, after hearing the same story but with anthropomorphized animals or a control story, children became more selfish.”

“A growing body of research has shown that young children more readily apply what they’ve learned from stories that are realistic ... (but) this is the first time we found something similar for social behaviors,” said Patricia Ganea, who led the study, according to The Guardian. “The finding is surprising given that many stories for young children have human-like animals.”

Read more at The Guardian and read the study here

'Property Brothers' Drew, Jonathan Scott talk bankruptcy, life before HGTV in new tell-all book

Drew and Jonathan Scott are ready to open up about the trials and tribulations of their lives. From divorce and bankruptcy to marriage and babies, the brothers are not holding anything back in their new memoir, “It Takes Two: Our Story.”

>> Read more trending news

“We didn’t want to cut anything out of the book,” Jonathan told People magazine. “We talk about all the highs and all the lows.”

Fans may be surprised to hear that before hitting it big with the HGTV series “Property Brothers,” Jonathan filed for bankruptcy and Drew was $100,000 in debt.

“We had been doing real estate for some time, but I missed my passion -- acting,” Drew said. “I went to Vancouver to pursue that, and I was taking acting courses, networking and doing all the things I had to do to make sure that I was being seen.”

RELATED: Maria Menounos announces new gig after taking time to recover from brain tumor diagnosis

Within months, Drew had racked up debt. “In the end, that experience was really important because it created the buzz for our first auditions, which got us on TV and made it worth it,” he said,

Jonathan had dreams of becoming a magician but lost everything after all of his props and equipment were stolen. “It really turned out to be a game-changer for us, because we realized how any reckless decision you make can leave you vulnerable,” he said.

The twins eventually bounced back and found great success with their HGTV home improvement series. Now, they are entering a new chapter in their lives -- marriage and family. Drew and his fiancee, Linda Phan, are busy planning a destination wedding and recently bought a home in Los Angeles while Jonathan has settled down with his longtime girlfriend, Jacinta Kuznetsov, and apparently, he has baby on the brain.

“Of all the success and everything we’ve achieved, I think I’ll be a great dad,” he said. “That’s going to be exciting.”

Stephen King’s ‘Pet Sematary’ house is for sale

The house that inspired horror novelist Stephen King to write “Pet Sematary” is up for sale, the Bangor Daily News reported.

>> Read more trending news 

The house in Orrington, Maine, carries a $255,000 price tag. King and his family lived there for a year while he was a writer-in-residence at his alma mater, the University of Maine at Orono.

King said he did not remember the house number -- 664 River Road -- but recognized its picture in a real estate listing. The house has been featured in news stories, books, blogs and television shows.

“Don’t remember the number, but it was across the street from the store owned by the late, great Julio Desanctis,” King told the Bangor Daily News. “That’s actually where I wrote the book — in his storeroom.”

During King’s stay at the four-bedroom, three-bathroom home, his daughter Naomi’s cat, Smucky, was hit by a truck and died. The animal was buried in an informal pet cemetery on a hill behind the rental property, King said on his website.

“I can remember crossing the road and thinking that the cat had been killed in the road — and [thought] what if a kid died in that road,” King said on the website. “We had had this experience with [our son] Owen running toward the road, where I had just grabbed him and pulled him back. And the two things just came together.

“On one side of this two-lane highway was the idea of what if the cat came back, and on the other side of the highway was what if the kid came back — so that when I reached the other side, I had been galvanized by the idea, but not in any melodramatic way,” the author said. “I knew immediately that it was a novel.”

“Pet Sematary” was published in 1983, and a movie version was released in 1989.

The aunt of Loran Dosen purchased the home, which was built in 1904, in 1991. When Dosen’s aunt died recently, Dosen’s parents, Lin and Joe Dosen, inherited the house. Loran Dosen said her aunt was interviewed for a Stephen King TV biography featured about living in the house.

“Some super fans have knocked on the door and asked to come inside,” Loran Dosen told the Bangor Daily News.

‘Charlotte’s Web’ author E.B. White’s Maine home listed for $3.7M

The Maine barn from the beloved children’s book “Charlotte’s Web” is officially on the market.

>> Read more trending news

Listed at $3.7 million, the New England property, including the beautiful barn, was home to late author E.B. White. It was where he lived with his wife until his death in 1985, according to an online exclusive from Yankee Magazine.

Since then, Robert and Mary Gallant have made the lovely Allen Cove farmhouse in North Brooklin, Maine, their home.

“It’s clear they do not want to leave,” Yankee Magazine writer Mel Allen penned. “They know they should. It is time, they say, to downsize to one home and live closer to their four children and seven grandchildren, who remain in the Carolinas.”

» RELATED: For sale: ‘Scariest’ lodging in America, iconic Clown Motel 

So now, decades later, the Gallants want another family to love the home the way they have.

The more than 200-year-old New England property has the original swing hanging by the doorway (the same one that E.B. White’s character Fern enjoyed) and, Allen wrote, “there may or may not be a spider spinning her web in the darker corners of the rafters.”

It includes 12 rooms, six working fireplaces, three and a half bathrooms and a wood cook stove.

» RELATED: President Trump’s Caribbean estate selling for $16.9 million

The 44-acre saltwater farm also features views of the bay and mountains of Acadia National Park, a sun porch, a boathouse with a dock and more.

The House at Allen Cove listing is priced at $3.7 million.

According to The Associated Press, Down East Properties listing agent Martha Dischinger said Wednesday the property retains many historical touches, and the owners maintained the gardens tended by E.B. White’s wife, Katharine, before her death in 1977.

Read the full Yankee Magazine exclusive at NewEngland.com.

Bush sisters going on tour for new book

Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush are headed on a book tour.

>> Read more trending news

According to PEOPLE magazine, the sisters are hitting the road together to promote their upcoming memoir, “Sisters First: Stories from Our Wild and Wonderful Life.”

“In ‘Sisters First’, Jenna and Barbara will take readers on a revealing, thoughtful, and deeply personal tour behind the scenes of their lives, with never-before-told funny and poignant personal stories and reflections about their family, their adventures, their loves and losses, and the special sisterly bond that fulfills them,” Grand Central Publishing said in a statement.

The official tour is set to begin on the day of the book’s release on Oct. 24 in New York City, and their mother will join them for a preview of the book in Kennebunkport, Maine, on Aug. 18.

“We’ve always felt lucky that we had each other to walk side-by-side as sisters through the extraordinary circumstances of our ordinary lives,” the sisters previously said after announcing their book in March. “We are so excited to share the stories that mean the most to us — from the ones that made us laugh to those that shaped us the most — and we hope to make ‘Sisters First’ an entertaining read that will also give readers a more nuanced look behind the headlines.”

Tickets for the tour go on sale on Aug. 4.. More information about the tour can be found on the book’s official website.

'Sweet Valley High' movie reportedly in the works, lands 'Legally Blonde' writer

Sweet Valley's Wakefield twins are reportedly taking their identical blonde tresses, Pacific Ocean-hued eyes and "perfect size 6 figures" to the big screen.

According to Deadline, Paramount Pictures has tapped "Legally Blonde" writer Kirsten "Kiwi" Smith and Harper Dill, who writes for Fox's "The Mick," to work on a film adaptation of the popular "Sweet Valley High" young-adult novels by Francine Pascal. 

>> Read more trending news

The cult-classic book series, which debuted in 1983, focuses on teen twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield and their soap opera-style lives in idyllic Sweet Valley, California. The franchise includes multiple spin-off book series, two modern-day reboots published in 2011 and 2012, and a 1990s TV show starring real-life twins Brittany and Cynthia Daniel.

Read more here.

TSA ends testing, will not screen passengers’ books separately

TSA officials will not screen and search books separate from luggage during security checks before passengers board planes at airports across the country.

The agency announced the decision to end testing the practice at select airports at the end of June. Testing was being performed at two U.S. airports.

>> Read more trending news

Many people criticized the book screenings, saying TSA agents could potentially choose passengers to search based on the titles and topics of their reading materials.

“Academics are unsurprisingly big readers, and since we don’t simply read for pleasure, we often read materials with which we disagree or which may be seen by others as offensive,” Henry Reichman, chair of the American Association of University Professors’ Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure, said last month. “For instance, a scholar studying terrorism and its roots may well be reading -- and potentially carrying on a plane -- books that others might see as endorsing terrorism.”

Other critics said publicly disclosing reading material could feel like an invasion of privacy to some travelers. 

“A person who is reading a book entitled ‘Overcoming Sexual Abuse’ or ‘Overcoming Sexual Dysfunction’ is not likely to want to plop that volume down on the conveyor belt for all to see,” said notes privacy expert Jay Stanley in an analysis of the TSA’s previous plan.

But the TSA has asserted the the book search, which has been terminated at test airports will not expand across the country as previously planned.

Passengers do not need to remove books from carry-on bags before sending luggage through X-ray machines.

“We’re always testing procedures to help stay ahead of our adversaries. We were testing the removal of books at two airport locations and the testing ran its course,” the TSA said in a news release. “We’re no longer testing and have no intentions of instituting those procedures.”

In the release, the TSA said it implemented the book screening test because “adversaries seem to know every trick in the book when it comes to concealing dangerous items, and books have been used in the past to conceal prohibited items.”

“We weren’t judging your books by their covers, just making sure nothing dangerous was inside,” TSA said

2 new Harry Potter-related books coming this fall

In celebration of the 20th year anniversary of the release of the first book in the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling has announced plans for an exhibit about the fictional wizard at the British Library. 

>> Read more trending news 

In collaboration, two new series-related books will be released.

“Harry Potter: A History of Magic” is the official book of the exhibition, and it promises to “take readers on a fascinating journey through the subjects studied at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry -- from Alchemy and Potions classes through to Herbology and Care of Magical Creatures,” according to Bloomsbury Publishing. According to the publisher, readers can “discover the truth behind making the Philosopher’s Stone, create (a) potion and uncover the secret of invisible ink. (Plus) learn all about the history of mandrake roots and dragons, discover what witches really used their brooms for, pore over incredible images of actual mermaids and read about real-life potions, astronomers and alchemists.”

The second book, “Harry Potter: A Journey Through the History of Magic,” takes readers “on a journey through the Hogwarts curriculum, including Defense Against the Dark Arts, Astronomy, Divination and more,” a description on the British Library’s official website reads. The book features exclusive, unseen sketches and manuscripts from Rowling and magical illustrations.

Both books will be released in October.

The first book in the Harry Potter series, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” was released in the United Kingdom June 26, 1997.  It was released in the U.S. in 1998 with the title “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”

After Donald Trump blocked Stephen King on Twitter, J.K. Rowling came to the rescue

After President Donald Trump reportedly blocked best-selling author Stephen King from reading his tweets on Twitter, “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling came to her fellow author’s rescue.

>> Read more trending news

On Tuesday, King said in a tweet that he had been blocked by the United States’ 45th president, writing, “Trump has blocked me from reading his tweets. I may have to kill myself.”

While some Twitter users were quick to congratulate King or share their own blocking stories, Rowling took sympathy on the “It” author and offered to help him out.

“I still have access. I’ll DM them to you,” she quickly replied.

King replied, "Thanks. Maybe it's a hoax. I'm good either way. I'll always have Pence, hahahaha."

Recently, Trump has been blocking people who disagree with him on Twitter, including a veterans group that has opposed to his travel ban, but according to lawyers for two of those blocked Twitter users, his blocks may be unconstitutional.

In a letter sent to Trump last week, lawyers from The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University argued that blocking dissenters on Twitter is against the First Amendment.

“This Twitter account operates as a 'designated public forum' for First Amendment purposes, and accordingly the viewpoint-based blocking of our clients is unconstitutional,” the letter reads, according to The New York Times. “We ask you to unblock them and any others who have been blocked for similar reasons.”

The letter implied that if Trump did not unblock their clients, a lawsuit would soon follow.

Bill Clinton, James Patterson writing a novel together

James Patterson probably doesn’t need any help selling his books, but it can’t hurt that his next writing partner will be former President Bill Clinton.

Knopf and Little, Brown announced Monday that they will jointly publish "The President Is Missing" on June 11, 2018.

The publishers describe the book as a “unique amalgam of intrigue, suspense and behind-the-scenes global drama from the highest corridors of power. It will be informed by insider details that only a president can know,” the online trade publication Publisher’s Lunch reports.

“Working with President Clinton has been the highlight of my career and having access to his firsthand experience has uniquely informed the writing of this novel,” Patterson said in a statement to The Associated Press. “I’m a storyteller, and President Clinton’s insight has allowed us to tell a really interesting one.”

>> Read more trending news

Clinton and Patterson have been friends since they met on a golf course 10 years ago, Publisher’s Weekly said. Attorney Robert Barnett, their mutual literary representative, suggested they collaborate and negotiated the deal.

“Working on a book about a sitting president — drawing on what I know about the job, life in the White House and the way Washington works — has been a lot of fun,” Clinton said in a statement to The Associated Press. “And working with Jim has been terrific. I’ve been a fan of his for a very long time.”

The co-authors will participate in a national book tour when the book is published, Publishers Lunch said.

Patterson, who frequently writes with co-authors, has sold more than 300 million copies of his books. He tops the list of best-selling authors on The New York Times’ list, with 67 books.

Clinton has written three books, the most successful of which is the million-selling "My Life." Jimmy Carter became the first American president to pen a novel when he published the historical novel "The Hornet's Nest" in 2003.

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