Lynn Neary

Every so often, a genuine publishing phenomenon emerges. The latest one is no Harry Potter, but the reason for its meteoric rise to the top of Amazon's best-seller list is self-evident. On the cover of Carl- Johan Forssen Ehrlin's self-published The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep there's a sign that reads, "I can make anyone fall asleep" — and that's a promise sleep-deprived parents can't resist.

E.L. Doctorow used to tell a story about a journalism class he took as a high school student in the Bronx. As he told NPR back in 2003, he wrote a profile of a doorman at Carnegie Hall who was beloved by all the performers there. His teacher, apparently, loved the story so much, she wanted to publish the story in the school paper — so she told Doctorow to get a photo of the man.

There was just one problem.

"I hadn't expected that kind of enthusiasm," Doctorow recalled, "and I said, well, 'Not exactly, there is no Carl.' I made him up."

Publishing's big week is almost over. The industry's annual convention, BookExpo America, ends Friday in New York, and on Saturday the publishing world opens its doors to the public with BookCon, where avid readers will get the chance to mix and mingle with their favorite authors.

When restaurateur Nora Pouillon moved to the United States from Austria in the 1960s, she was surprised by how hard it was to get really fresh food. Everything was packaged and processed. Pouillon set out to find the find the best ingredients possible to cook for her family and friends. She brought that same sensibility to her Restaurant Nora, which eventually became the first certified organic restaurant in the country.

Pouillon writes about her lifelong devotion to food in a new memoir, My Organic Life: How A Pioneering Chef Helped Shape The Way We Eat Today.

When Saturday Night Live went on the air 40 years ago, few would have guessed how many of the cast members would go on to become household names. But you've probably never heard of Edie Baskin and Mary Ellen Matthews. They're the official photographers on Saturday Night Live and their combined careers have spanned the life of the show. A collection of their work has been published to coincide with this year's anniversary broadcast on Sunday.

News that a second novel by Harper Lee will be published next July has thrilled fans of her first novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, but it has also been met with some skepticism and concern. Lee has been involved in several legal skirmishes and controversies in recent years, raising questions about whether she is being taken advantage of in her old age.

Parents on the hunt for great kids' books get some help each year when the American Library Association gives out its Youth Media Awards. On Monday, the association announced a long list of winners in a variety of categories.

The two that get the most attention are the John Newbery Medal for most outstanding contribution to children's literature and the Randolph Caldecott Medal for picture book artistry. This year's Newbery went to Kwame Alexander's The Crossover, and the Caldecott went to Dan Santat's The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend.

When the children's television show Sesame Street first hit the air in 1969, many were deeply skeptical that you could use TV to introduce very young children to the basics of reading and math. But the experiment proved to be a remarkable success; Sesame Street has reached several generations of toddlers with its combination of educational content and pure entertainment. And now, Sesame Workshop is using new technology to reach the next generation.

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.

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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.

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.

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

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