A single data point that complicates how we think about who is in prison.
MEET THE FLEDGLINGS WITH THE WILD BIRD FUND at the DiMenna Children’s History Museum, New-York Historical Society (May 12, 2 p.m.). Touching a baby bird is usually a privilege enjoyed only by its parents. Once a year, however, the Wild Bird Fund, a Manhattan nonprofit that tends to injured and orphaned members of the avian population (and the occasional small mammal), visits this museum, offering close-up interactions with some of its small patients. Held in conjunction with the exhibition “Feathers: Fashion and the Fight for Wildlife,” the program will open with a presentation on the city’s winged residents and their rehabilitation. Then children — they must be at least 5 to participate — will be invited to help feed the fledglings under close supervision.
N.Y.C. WILDFLOWER DAY at Stuyvesant Cove Park (May 12, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.). New York City has more than eight million people — yet fewer than 800 kinds of native plants. Children will learn about these indigenous species and how to conserve them at this free event, part of the many N.Y.C. Wildflower Week celebrations. Presented by Solar One, the green-energy education center, the activities will include digging in the soil and a compost heap to see what lives there, making take-home nesting habitats for native bees out of bundled plant stems, and building an entirely peaceful environmental weapon: wildflower seed bombs. Made of clay or other absorbent material, these bombs are more like cocoons, protecting and hydrating their contents until the seeds can germinate and break free. (Reservations, which you can get by emailing email@example.com, are advised.)
‘OLIVE & PEARL’ at the BAM Fisher Hillman Studio (May 12-14, 11 a.m.; May 15, 10 and 11:30 a.m.). Arthritis isn’t a problem for Granny Pearl; she kicks up her heels and does the jig with her young granddaughter, Olive, in this dance-theater piece from Treehouse Shakers. Written and directed by Mara McEwin and choreographed by Emily Bunning, the production invites its intended audience — children ages 2 through 5 — into the characters’ cloth home, where Olive and Pearl have a pretend encounter with fairies and take an imaginary journey to the moon. Several puppets join their adventures, which unfold to Anthony Rizzo’s score, inspired by bluegrass and Irish fiddle tunes. Saturday’s show will be followed by an optional family puppetry workshop (a separate fee is required), and Tuesday’s performances will be relaxed versions, geared toward children on the autism spectrum or with sensory-processing difficulties.
[STARTUP]: OPEN HOUSE/OPEN STUDIOS at the Art Students League of New York (May 12, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.). This isn’t just an open house; it’s a house birthday party. The venerable Art Students League has occupied its Midtown Manhattan headquarters for 125 years, and it is honoring the building’s anniversary with STartUP, an entire weekend of events. Saturday’s programs are family-friendly, with a wide variety of workshops. Drawing and Mixed Media for Kids will accept participants as young as 3, while Art for Animation and Make Your Own Graphic Novel are for those 12 and older. Several classes, like Clay for Beginners and Live Sketch for Kids, are tailored to children 6 and older. And everyone is invited to Live! Street Art Like You’ve Never Seen It, a chance to watch league-affiliated artists use West 57th Street as their studio.
The Fickett Street play street, the neighborhood’s fourth since the LADOT pilots began in 2016, was sought by Union de Vecinos as a safe and celebratory refuge. Perched on a bluff overlooking downtown and separated by the Los Angeles River, Boyle Heights, a neighborhood of about 100,000 residents, has long suffered from a host of land-use inequities, including its proximity to polluting freeways that decimated housing and sliced the community’s largest park in half.
Three-quarters of the housing units in Boyle Heights are currently rentals. And the fact that the neighborhood is near the downtown Arts District across the river has brought the issue of displacement to the fore. Art galleries and house flippers have moved in and longtime tenants have received eviction notices, raising the specter of “Ikea catalogs in the barrio,” as Josefina López, the artistic director of Casa 0101 Theater and the writer of “Real Women Have Curves,” put it.
Credit Coley Brown for The New York Times
In her play “Hipsteria,” Ms. López imagined the last building in Boyle Heights 20 years hence, occupied by hipsters wanting to turn it into a dog hotel. “Boyle Heights is not a blank canvas,” she observed. “It’s a rich tapestry of immigrant history, culture and activism.”
It has long been an immigrant hub: The historic Breed Street Shul was the oldest Orthodox synagogue west of Chicago. (The rear building is now a community center.) The neighborhood’s landscape is distinctly Latino, with artful front-yard altars dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe and Mexican-American murals bringing vibrant life to peeling walls.
In recent years, Union de Vecinos has been deeply involved in pro-tenant and antigallery activism, some of it confrontational. (Several galleries, including the artist-run 356 Mission, have announced they will close here.) But over the past two decades, its leaders have also worked hard to make the neighborhood cleaner and safer in the face of longstanding disinvestment. The alleyways crisscrossing the neighborhood were especially dangerous, filled with trash by people pulling off the freeways to dump construction waste, and had become magnets for illegal activity.
The group got rid of the litter and gang graffiti, installed brightly painted speed bumps and, in an alley near a liquor store, planted a garden full of spiky cactuses.
Credit Coley Brown for The New York Times
But improving the neighborhood has become a delicate proposition. As the area becomes more habitable for residents, it grows more appealing to outsiders, putting more pressure on housing. On Avenue Cesar E. Chavez, the primary commercial street, for instance, young people with laptops and earbuds sip coffee across the street from a lone Norteño accordionist in a sombrero standing beneath a red awning.
“There’s a difference between making something beautiful to sell it and making it useful,” said Leonardo Vilchis, co-director of Union de Vecinos. “So the question is, can we make this place more livable for people living here now?”
With tensions about gentrification running high, the community’s decision to embrace the play street concept was not a casual one.
“So many people want to come in and modify this place,” said Ofelia Platon, 45, a Union de Vecinos leader who lives around the corner from Fickett Street. “So there’s always a question of what would we need to give up?” A mother of three, she recalled taking her son Esteban, now 17, to a nearby park and having to drop on the grass because of a shooting.
Credit Coley Brown for The New York Times
The residents chose Fickett Street with the intention of providing a safe space not just for children but for the community, said Chelina Odbert, KDI’s co-founder and executive director.
“What a play street is not is a replacement for permanent parks,” she said. “But it bridges the gap in a way that’s really needed.”
Scarlett De Leon, a director for the Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance, grew up there and said she spent much of her childhood glued to television, a pattern she now observes in her younger siblings and her great-grandmother.
“It’s a cycle that affects different generations in one family,” she said. “So having a space to be creative and interact is important for emotional health.”
At the play street event earlier this month, Fickett Street was alive with fathers pushing play bins down the street with children riding in them. The scent of taquitos drifted from Maria Lopez’s kitchen — she made enough for everyone — and young men helped carry jars of watermelon agua fresca down the steps.
Miguel Ángel Jiménez, 18, attempted to jump a wobble with his skateboard. “I feel better when people are interested in each other,” he said of the street. “There’s a time to be indoors and a time to be out.”
‘JEWS IN SPACE: MEMBERS OF THE TRIBE IN ORBIT’ FAMILY PROGRAM at the Center for Jewish History (April 15, 10 a.m.-noon). Throughout history, persecution and the diaspora have led Jews to travel to many regions, but this free event will honor one that they’ve visited purely voluntarily: outer space. Held in conjunction with a new exhibition of the same title, “Jews in Space” will send young participants on a gallerywide scavenger hunt to discover contributions from astronomers and astronauts. They can also make a rocket ship that actually launches; hear the musician Rob Schwimmer play the theremin, an instrument whose eerie sound is ideal for science-fiction soundtracks, and then try it themselves; and have a discussion via Skype with Vickie Kloeris, a NASA food scientist, who will explain how and what astronauts eat. (Reservations are required.)
‘THE LITTLE RED FISH’ at the Lion Theater at Theater Row (through April 29). There’s more than one way to dive into a story. JeJe, a little boy, does so literally in this 30-minute production, an adaptation of a picture book of the same title by Taeeun Yoo. Presented by New York City Children’s Theater, the play showcases the creative talents of the Puppet Kitchen, the inventive team that devised the fantastical puppetry in the original production of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show.” “The Little Red Fish,” which plays on weekends at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., finds JeJe at the library, where he has gone with his grandfather. The child has also taken his pet, the title character. Yet when the fish escapes its bowl and disappears into the pages of a book, JeJe has no choice but to follow his finned friend on a literary adventure turned real.
109TH SALUTE TO MAGIC at the Haft Theater, Fashion Institute of Technology (April 14, 7:30 p.m.). Very little entertainment is truly for all ages, but magic and circus arts — at least the sophisticated kind — fit the bill. This annual event, presented by the Society of American Magicians, will showcase more than a half-dozen acts with impressive pedigrees. Children may especially enjoy the work of Elliot Zimet, who performs with birds; Keith Nelson, a founder of the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus, who swallows swords, eats fire and juggles plates; and David Kaye, a.k.a. Silly Billy, who will call four young audience members onstage for assistance.
SPRING FAMILY FAIR at the Morgan Library & Museum (April 15, 2-4:30 p.m.). The Morgan is inviting young people to slip into the past, where they’ll meet interesting characters like powerful dragons and a librarian who was powerful, too: Belle da Costa Greene (1879-1950), whose name alone is enough to belie the dowdy stereotypes associated with her profession. The fair’s activities will include making colorful dragon puppets based on the museum’s medieval illuminated manuscripts; decorating picture frames, inspired by the work of Peter Hujar; dreaming up verse to add to the library’s Poetry Wall; and encountering Ms. Greene, the Morgan’s first director, who will be portrayed by the actress Starr Kirkland in two interactive performances.
SUPER PET EXPO at the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center, Edison, N.J. (April 13, 3-8 p.m.; April 14, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; April 15, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.). Not many events at convention centers allow you to take along your dog, but this one welcomes canine companions — on leashes, of course. In addition to providing information on pet adoption, rescue and training, it offers attractions like a puppy playground; a petting zoo; a luring course for dog exercise and play; an educational presentation on wolves (they may be big, but they’re not bad) by Wolf Visions; and a Walk the Rain Forest experience with Lonely Grey Rescue, an avian nonprofit. It also features a best-dressed pet competition; cat, dog and even pig agility demonstrations; and a Repticon section for those who prefer their pets furless.
Credit James Glossop
The average age at the Metropolitan Opera is about to get lower — much lower. Sitting still will not be required: Audience members will be encouraged to crawl around and interact with the singers if they like. The dress code will be so relaxed that many operagoers may opt for onesies.
No, the barbarians are not at the gate. The Met is presenting a new opera for babies.
The company will present 10 free performances of “BambinO,” an opera for babies between 6 months old and 18 months old, from April 30 to May 5 in the opera house’s smaller auditorium, List Hall, the Met announced on Thursday. The 40-minute opera — scored for two singers and two musicians — will be performed for a small audience of babies and caregivers.
Discerning preverbal operagoers need not fear: “BambinO” earned good reviews when it had its premiere last summer in Britain. “It worked, contrary to expectation (mine), on so many levels it’s hard to tease them apart,” Fiona Maddocks wrote in The Observer.
The most unusual opera, about a bird, an egg and chick, was written by the composer Lliam Paterson and developed by Scottish Opera, Improbable theater company and the Manchester International Festival. It was directed by Phelim McDermott, whose considerably more adult carnivalesque production of Mozart’s “Così Fan Tutte” is now at the Met. It will be performed this spring in Paris before it comes to the Met.
“In the Met’s never-ending quest to develop audiences of the future, we’ve decided to start at the very beginning,” Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager, said in a statement.
The presentation will come near the end of a tumultuous season in which the Met fired its former music director, James Levine, for sexual misconduct, and he sued the company for breach of contract and defamation.
The opera will be performed for 25 babies, who will be seated on the laps of their caregivers on benches with cushions around the perimeter of the stage area. Changing tables and stroller parking will be provided. The Met’s education team will work with researchers in infant development and early childhood music education from the Rita Gold Early Childhood Center at Teachers College, Columbia University.
Black boys raised in America, even in the wealthiest families and living in some of the most well-to-do neighborhoods, still earn less in adulthood than white boys with similar backgrounds, according to a sweeping new study that traced the lives of millions of children.
White boys who grow up rich are likely to remain that way. Black boys raised at the top, however, are more likely to become poor than to stay wealthy in their own adult households.
Most white boys raised in wealthy families will stay rich or upper middle class as adults, but black boys raised in similarly rich households will not.
…and see where where they end up as adults:
Follow the lives of boys who grew up in rich families …
Adult outcomes reflect household incomes in 2014 and 2015.
Even when children grow up next to each other with parents who earn similar incomes, black boys fare worse than white boys in 99 percent of America. And the gaps only worsen in the kind of neighborhoods that promise low poverty and good schools.
According to the study, led by researchers at Stanford, Harvard and the Census Bureau, income inequality between blacks and whites is driven entirely by what is happening among these boys and the men they become. Black and white girls from families with comparable earnings attain similar individual incomes as adults.
Large income gaps persist between men — but not women.
Black men consistently earn less than white men, regardless of whether they’re raised poor or rich.
No such income gap exists between black and white women raised in similar households.
“You would have thought at some point you escape the poverty trap,” said Nathaniel Hendren, a Harvard economist and an author of the study.
Black boys — even rich black boys — can seemingly never assume that.
The study, based on anonymous earnings and demographic data for virtually all Americans now in their late 30s, debunks a number of other widely held hypotheses about income inequality. Gaps persisted even when black and white boys grew up in families with the same income, similar family structures, similar education levels and even similar levels of accumulated wealth.
The disparities that remain also can’t be explained by differences in cognitive ability, an argument made by people who cite racial gaps in test scores that appear for both black boys and girls. If such inherent differences existed by race, “you’ve got to explain to me why these putative ability differences aren’t handicapping women,” said David Grusky, a Stanford sociologist who has reviewed the research.
A more likely possibility, the authors suggest, is that test scores don’t accurately measure the abilities of black children in the first place.
If this inequality can’t be explained by individual or household traits, much of what matters probably lies outside the home — in surrounding neighborhoods, in the economy and in a society that views black boys differently from white boys, and even from black girls.
“One of the most popular liberal post-racial ideas is the idea that the fundamental problem is class and not race, and clearly this study explodes that idea,” said Ibram Kendi, a professor and director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University. “But for whatever reason, we’re unwilling to stare racism in the face.”
The authors, including the Stanford economist Raj Chetty and two census researchers, Maggie R. Jones and Sonya R. Porter, tried to identify neighborhoods where poor black boys do well, and as well as whites.
“The problem,” Mr. Chetty said, “is that there are essentially no such neighborhoods in America.”
The few neighborhoods that met this standard were in areas that showed less discrimination in surveys and tests of racial bias. They mostly had low poverty rates. And, intriguingly, these pockets — including parts of the Maryland suburbs of Washington, and corners of Queens and the Bronx — were the places where many lower-income black children had fathers at home. Poor black boys did well in such places, whether their own fathers were present or not.
Share of children living in low-poverty neighborhoods with many fathers present
Share of children living in high-poverty neighborhoods with few fathers present
“That is a pathbreaking finding,” said William Julius Wilson, a Harvard sociologist whose books have chronicled the economic struggles of black men. “They’re not talking about the direct effects of a boy’s own parents’ marital status. They’re talking about the presence of fathers in a given census tract.”
Other fathers in the community can provide boys with role models and mentors, researchers say, and their presence may indicate other neighborhood factors that benefit families, like lower incarceration rates and better job opportunities.
The research makes clear that there is something unique about the obstacles black males face. The gap between Hispanics and whites is narrower, and their incomes will converge within a couple of generations if mobility stays the same. Asian-Americans earn more than whites raised at the same income level, or about the same when first-generation immigrants are excluded. Only Native Americans have an income gap comparable to African-Americans. But the disparities are widest for black boys.
For poor children, the pattern is reversed. Most poor black boys will remain poor as adults. White boys raised in poor families fare far better.
…and see where where they end up as adults:
Follow the lives of boys who grew up in poor families …
“This crystallizes and puts data behind this thing that we always knew was there because we either felt it ourselves or we’ve seen it over time,” said Will Jawando, 35, who worked in the Obama White House on My Brother’s Keeper, a mentoring initiative for black boys. Even without this data, the people who worked on that project, he said, believed that individual and structural racism targeted black men in ways that required policies devised specifically for them.
Mr. Jawando, the son of a Nigerian father and a white mother, grew up poor in Silver Spring, Md. The Washington suburb contains some of the rare neighborhoods where black and white boys appear to do equally well. Mr. Jawando, who identifies as black, is now a married lawyer with three daughters. He is among the black boys who climbed from the bottom to the top.
T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times
He was one of the 20 million children born between 1978 and 1983 whose lives are reflected in the study. Using census data that included tax files, the researchers were able to link the adult fortunes of those children to their parents’ incomes. Names and addresses were hidden from the researchers.
Previous research suggests some reasons there may be a large income gap between black and white men, but not between women.
Other studies show that boys, across races, are more sensitive than girls to disadvantages like growing up in poverty or facing discrimination. While black women also face negative effects of racism, black men often experience racial discrimination differently. As early as preschool, they are more likely to be disciplined in school. They are pulled over or detained and searched by police officers more often.
“It’s not just being black but being male that has been hyper-stereotyped in this negative way, in which we’ve made black men scary, intimidating, with a propensity toward violence,” said Noelle Hurd, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia.
She said this racist stereotype particularly hurts black men economically, now that service-sector jobs, requiring interaction with customers, have replaced the manufacturing jobs that previously employed men with less education.
The new data shows that 21 percent of black men raised at the very bottom were incarcerated, according to a snapshot of a single day during the 2010 census. Black men raised in the top 1 percent — by millionaires — were as likely to be incarcerated as white men raised in households earning about $36,000.
The sons of black families from the top 1 percent had about the same chance of being incarcerated on a given day as the sons of white families earning $36,000.
Share of the men incarcerated on April 1, 2010
Includes men who were ages 27 to 32 in 2010.
At the same time, boys benefit more than girls from adult attention and resources, as do low-income and nonwhite children, a variety of studies have found. Mentors who aren’t children’s parents, but who share those children’s gender and race, serve a particularly important role for black children, Ms. Hurd has found. That helps explain why the presence of black fathers in a neighborhood, even if not in a child’s home, appears to make a difference.
Some of the widest black-white income gaps in this study appear in wealthy communities. This fits with previous research that has shown that the effects of racial discrimination cross class lines. Although all children benefit from growing up in places with higher incomes and more resources, black children do not benefit nearly as much as white children do. Moving black boys to opportunity is no guarantee they can tap into it.
“Simply because you’re in an area that is more affluent, it’s still hard for black boys to present themselves as independent from the stereotype of black criminality,” said Khiara Bridges, a professor of law and anthropology at Boston University who has written a coming paper on discrimination against affluent black people.
This dynamic still weighs on Mr. Jawando. He has a good income, multiple degrees and political aspirations — he is running for county council in Montgomery County, where he grew up. But in his own community, he is careful to dress like a professional.
“I think if I’m putting on a sweatsuit, if I go somewhere, will I be seen as just kind of a hood black guy?” he said. “Or will people recognize me at all?” Those small daily decisions — to wear a blazer or not — follow him despite his success. “I don’t think you escape those things,” he said.
Other Findings From the Research
This study makes it possible to look in greater detail at interrelated disparities that researchers have long studied around income, marriage rates and incarceration. Here are some of the other findings.
There’s a large gap in the marriage rates of white and black Americans, even after accounting for income.
Percent of the children married in 2015
Includes men and women who were ages 32 to 37 in 2015.
One reason income gaps between whites and blacks appear so large at the household level is that black men and women are less likely to be married. That means their households are more likely to have a single income — not two. For this reason and others, many point to differences in family structure as a primary driver of racial income inequality. If black children don’t have married parents, the argument goes, they’re more likely to grow up with fewer resources and less adult attention at home.
This study found, however, that broad income disparities still exist between black and white men even when they’re raised in homes with the same incomes and the same family structure.
The income gap exists for black and white boys if they had one parent in the house or two.
As this chart shows, a black man raised by two parents together in the 90th percentile — making around $140,000 a year — earns about the same in adulthood as a white man raised by a single mother making $60,000 alone.
The high mobility rate for Asian-Americans is partly about immigration.
Based on a sample of the children. Few Native Americans have immigrant mothers; their differences in income are not meaningful.
Asian-Americans earn more in adulthood than whites who were raised in families with similar incomes. But that advantage largely disappears when the researchers look only at children whose parents were born in the United States. Non-immigrant Asian-Americans fare about as well in the economy as whites. (The study did not divide Asian-Americans or Hispanics into smaller groups by country of origin, collapsing potentially significant differences between, say, Mexican-Americans and Puerto Ricans.)
The worst places for poor white children are almost all better than the best places for poor black children.
Average income of white children from poor families
Average income of all children from poor families
Average income of black children from poor families
In previous work, some of these same researchers looked at how the prospects for poor children vary depending on where they grow up. The middle map above shows those earlier results: Poor children appeared to have less opportunity in the Southeast and more in the Northern Great Plains. With the new data, it’s now possible to look at the effects of geography separately for blacks and whites.
Poor white children struggle in parts of the Southeast and Appalachia. But they still fare better there than poor black children do in most of America. In effect, the worst places for whites produce outcomes that are about as good as the best places for blacks. These new maps also suggest that part of the reason the Southeast looks bad for all children, in the middle map, is that the region is home to many black children who fare particularly poorly there.
Very few nonwhite Americans started at the very top.
Income distribution of the children in the study
Excludes those reporting multiple races and those for whom no race was identified.
African-Americans made up about 35 percent of all children raised in the bottom 1 percent of the income distribution. They made up less than 1 percent of the children at the very top. This picture captures both a source of racial inequality and a consequence of it. White children are more likely to start life with economic advantages. But we now know that even when they start with the same advantages as black children, white boys still fare better, only reinforcing the disparities seen here.
The Real Starting Positions
The ladder charts so far have shown equal numbers of black and white boys raised by rich or poor families — what would happen, in other words, if we started with 10,000 boys, and half were black and half white.
In reality, whites and blacks are not represented equally across the income spectrum. More than two-thirds of black boys are raised by poor or lower-middle-class families, while more than half of white boys are raised by rich or upper-middle-class families. The chart below depicts boys from every income quintile – not just the top or bottom ones – proportioned according to their real starting places in life.
…and see where where they end up as adults:
Follow the lives of boys who grew up in the U.S. …
Credit Yto Barrada & Julie Klear
Our guide to cultural events in New York City for children and teenagers happening this weekend and in the week ahead.
FAMILY SATURDAY: ‘BEHIND THE SCENES AT NEW YORK CITY BALLET’ at the David H. Koch Theater (March 3, 11 a.m.). Many children aren’t familiar with the onstage workings of ballet, much less its backstage secrets. Hosted by the principal dancer Daniel Ulbricht, this program explores both. Geared to audiences 5 and older, it will explain the daily lives of dancers, how their intricate costumes are made and even the perspectives of those in the orchestra pit. The hourlong event will also feature company dancers in excerpts from a few Balanchine works and Jerome Robbins’s “The Four Seasons,” Peter Martins’s “Romeo + Juliet” and Alexei Ratmansky’s “Namouna, a Grand Divertissement.”
HOLI CELEBRATIONS at the Staten Island Children’s Museum (March 2-4) and the Brooklyn Children’s Museum (March 3). Holi is, in all senses, a colorful holiday. Hindu in origin and also known as the Festival of Colors, it celebrates the arrival of spring, the triumph of good over evil and the renewal of relationships. And if you want to honor it traditionally, you’ll throw fistfuls of colored powder in the streets and squirt water on your friends. The museum in Staten Island won’t follow that particular custom, but on Saturday and Sunday, from 1 to 4 p.m., it will invite young visitors to try rangoli, an ancient Indian art form that uses colored sands and powders to create intricate designs. Children can get an earlier taste of the holiday on Friday, when the museum’s Kidz Cook sessions, at 3 and 4 p.m., will teach them how to make a dairy-free mango lassi, an Indian drink that traditionally consists of yogurt and spices. If you want pure authenticity, though, you might try the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, whose Holi Hooray! event, from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, encourages visitors to wear white for a culminating frolic of hurling nontoxic, cornstarch-based colored powder at one another in nearby Brower Park. The day will also include Indian storytelling, rangoli, Bollywood dance lessons and feasting.
KIDS’ HAPPY HOUR at the Heights Bar Rooftop Atrium (March 4, 11 and 18, 3:15-5 p.m.). Yes, you read it right. No hard stuff, of course, will be served to young patrons, but they can otherwise enjoy what most adults have at a happy hour: beverages and music. The brainchild of Kevin Hylton, the owner of the website westchesterdaddy.com, these events in Morningside Heights, for ages 1 through 7, will offer limitless — and free — fresh organic juices and allergen-free snacks (along with affordable beer for parents). Westchester County children’s musicians supply the tunes. This first Sunday features Eileen Oddo of Musical Munchkins, an interactive program of rhythm and song. (Reservations are required.)
‘LAYER THE WALLS’ at the Tank (through March 4). Like prehistoric sediment, the walls of a building often contain traces and impressions of lives once lived. Liz Parker and Rachel Sullivan created this Manhattan production, for children 7 and older, after a visit to the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side, where they learned of the old apartments’ many layers of wallpaper, each applied by an immigrant family. Set within a tenement that is about to be torn down and whose interior is plastered with 40 layers, this show uses masks, toy-theater techniques and puppets designed by Spica Wobbe to imagine the proud and perilous histories of the building’s Italian, Jewish and Irish occupants.
Whether read at school or before bedtime, children’s picture books are a vivid way to teach history. They are particularly useful in February, during Black History Month.
As part of our “Live Art” series on Facebook, we talked to the creators of four children’s books that depict forgotten figures from black history or find new meaning in familiar ones.
What are your favorite picture books for sharing black history with your child? Let us know in the comments.
‘Freedom in Congo Square’
By Carole Boston Weatherford. Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. 2017.
R. Gregory Christie: When you’re dealing with slavery as the subject matter, obviously you want to get that information into schools, but on the other hand, you want to make sure it’s handled responsibly.
When I was first approached about doing the book, I thought, “A nursery rhyme for children about slavery?” I didn’t know if that could be done properly. But Carole really came through with her words.
Maria Russo: It’s such a serious subject. This is a book about slavery, but the art is so playful and full of joy, too. It’s hard for authors and illustrators to find a way to tell children about the extreme cruelty and terror of life under slavery. You and Carole really found a way with this story of Congo Square in New Orleans, where slaves in Louisiana found their own small measure of freedom on Sundays.
Christie: My mother grew up in a small town called New Roads, Louisiana, and I spent most of my summers down there. It really stuck with me how much people there loved to dance and party.
Sometimes you think things are just the way they’ve always been, but everything has a root. This book was an opportunity to talk about Louisiana’s unique cultural history.
I make the books that I wish I had when I was a kid. It’s important to learn about the history of George Washington, but it’s also important to learn about Toussaint L’Ouverture. Anytime I can do a book that is going to balance out the curriculum, that’s what I jump at.
A lot of people know New Orleans, but they don’t know about Congo Square.
‘The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist’
By Cynthia Levinson. Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton. 2017.
Russo: Audrey Faye Hendricks participated in the children’s march in 1963 and she actually ended up being put in jail. The City of Birmingham put 100 children in jail.
Vanessa Brantley Newton: For marching for civil rights.
Most of the students that were marching were in high school or college. Audrey was 9 years old. I thought, How brave.
I don’t know an adult who would have said, Yes, I’m willing to be taken to jail, but Audrey was. It was important to her to play a part.
I want little children to walk away from the book thinking, I can do something, too. No matter how small I am, there is something I can do.
There weren’t a lot of photos of Audrey as a girl. We could only find one of her. She had her little hair in pigtails and bangs. That’s how my mom would dress me when I was a kid, so I felt like I immediately understood. I get this hairdo. This little girl, I get her.
She reminds me so much of myself that drawing her came very easily.
Russo: And the author is Cynthia Levinson, who is a fantastic historian for children. She writes for children, but I learn from her books. Every one of them teaches me, too.
‘Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes Went From the Football Field to the Art Gallery’
By Sandra Neil Wallace. Illustrated by Bryan Collier. 2018.
Russo: This is one of those books that come around for Black History Month and bring to life a black person from history that a lot of people might not have heard about.
Bryan Collier: They know them, but they just didn’t realize they know them.
What’s unique about Ernie’s work is that he elongates the figures and they are always in motion. The eyes are closed because, as he said, “That’s our blindness to each other’s humanity.”
Russo: One of the most memorable pages in the book is when he goes to an art museum as a child and he wonders why there are no black artists there.
Collier: That’s the artist in him. He already knows there’s more to the world than what is being shown. He asks the museum guide, “Where are the black painters?” And she crushes him. She says, “Your people don’t express themselves like that.”
But he knows there’s art inside of him. These beginnings are so magical in a way.
‘Be a King: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream and You’
By Carole Boston Weatherford. Illustrated by James Ransome. 2018.
Carole Boston Weatherford: I wanted to do something about King that was not biographical, but more inspirational, that would inspire kids to serve and to follow King’s example of activism and service. This text shows what kids can do in their lives to be like King, hence the title, “Be a King.”
James E. Ransome: I was a child when King was alive and throughout the movement. Listening to his words made me want to be a better person, and that’s what this book is about.
THE JOURNEY OF LITTLE CHARLIE
By Christopher Paul Curtis
256 pp. Scholastic. $16.99.
(Ages 9 to 12)
Curtis’s books occupy that all too rare space in middle grade lit; they’re school curriculum standbys that are also crowd pleasers. Teachers like the way Curtis explores family dynamics and social justice through historical fiction. Fifth graders think it’s hilarious when a kid gets his lips stuck while trying to kiss his reflection in a frozen mirror (see: “The Watsons Go to Birmingham”).
Curtis’s ninth novel is among his most suspenseful, an adventure story about a white sharecropper’s son in antebellum South Carolina. “Little Charlie” Bobo is just 12, but at 6-foot-4, he looks as “growed and strong” as “a man and a half.” When Charlie’s father dies, the boy becomes easy prey for Captain Buck, the overseer of a plantation with a “rep-a-tation knowed even beyond Richland District.” The fearsome Cap’n tricks Charlie into helping him hunt down two slaves who have escaped to Detroit. And so Charlie embarks on a tense journey north, simultaneously captor and captive.
Readers who like their books packed with thrills will find plenty of action (horses, gunplay and disguises, for starters), to get their blood pumping. But a gentle tale this is not. Curtis doesn’t sugarcoat the horrors of the time. We see the Cap’n “clenching on to a blood-dripping whip whilst standing o’er the shredded-open back” of a man and get a vivid description of cat hauling, one of the cruelest practices in the history of American slavery. At times, it’s practically Tarantino-esque: “I will kill you, come back and kill your ma and anything else that was ever alive on that land,” the Cap’n threatens Charlie.
But Curtis is also a master at shifting tones — and so for every nail-biting moment, there’s a note of goofy joy or slapstick humor (often about Captain Buck’s “ripish” body odor). The novel gets a bit heavy-handed when Charlie meets a doppelgänger of sorts, the equally oversize 12-year-old son of the runaway couple, but “Little Charlie” is a keeper. Raised in poverty, ignorance and racism, Charlie develops his own moral compass — and becomes brave enough to act on it.
THE HEART AND MIND OF FRANCES PAULEY
By April Stevens
196 pp. Schwartz & Wade. $16.99.
(Ages 8 to 12)
Some books are about stuff happening. This isn’t one of them. But what this understated middle grade debut might lack in plot, it more than makes up in observation, mood and full-on feeling. Frances Pauley is a dreamy 11-year-old who spends hours in her “rock room,” the rock formation behind her house, where she watches crows, tracks bugs and does her homework. A solitary soul, she calls herself “Figgrotten.” “Giving herself this name felt strangely freeing,” Stevens writes. Like a young Ramona Quimby, she has that un-self-conscious, unquestioning sense of self that all too often vanishes in girls when they hit adolescence. Figgrotten’s main conflict is with her 13-year-old sister, who has withdrawn into sullen teenagerdom and wants nothing to do with her “little ugly freak” sister. A new boy in her class who’s becoming the teacher’s favorite also has Figgrotten seething. And she harbors the first inklings of self-doubt after being mocked at school. When she’s confronted with a sudden loss, she feels utterly alone. Can a child with an inner life as fierce and private as Frances’ make her way toward friendship and connection?
There’s much about Frances’ story that might cause some to label it a “girl book” — the very pretty cover art by Sophie Blackall, for starters, and the emotional weight packed into a tiny pink hair clip — but there’s plenty for boys to appreciate too. Any younger sibling will connect to Figgrotten’s hurt and bewilderment when she is shut out by her sister. And the image of Figgrotten’s bedroom, crammed with “crazy leaves that were the size of dinner plates, hickory nuts that had absolutely perfect holes gnawed in them, rocks with mica shining inside them,” all of which she’s laid out “in a trail that went all the way around the edge of the room,” is nothing short of magical.
Yet chlorpyrifos is still widely used in agriculture and routinely sprayed on crops like apples, oranges, strawberries and broccoli. Whether it remains available may become an early test of the Trump administration’s determination to pare back environmental regulations frowned on by the industry and to retreat from food-safety laws, possibly provoking another clash with the courts.
In March, the new chief of the E.P.A., Scott Pruitt, denied a 10-year-old petition brought by environmental groups seeking a complete ban on chlorpyrifos. In a statement accompanying his decision, Mr. Pruitt said there “continue to be considerable areas of uncertainty” about the neurodevelopmental effects of early life exposure to the pesticide.
Even though a court last year denied the agency’s request for more time to review the scientific evidence, Mr. Pruitt said the agency would postpone a final determination on the pesticide until 2022. The agency was “returning to using sound science in decision-making — rather than predetermined results,” he added.
Agency officials have declined repeated requests for information detailing the scientific rationale for Mr. Pruitt’s decision.
Lawyers representing Dow and other pesticide manufacturers have also been pressing federal agencies to ignore E.P.A. studies that have found chlorpyrifos and other pesticides are harmful to endangered plants and animals.
A statement issued by Dow Chemical, which manufactures the pesticide, said: “No pest control product has been more thoroughly evaluated, with more than 4,000 studies and reports examining chlorpyrifos in terms of health, safety and environment.”
A Baffling Order
Mr. Pruitt’s decision has confounded environmentalists and research scientists convinced that the pesticide is harmful.
Farm workers and their families are routinely exposed to chlorpyrifos, which leaches into ground water and persists in residues on fruits and vegetables, even after washing and peeling, they say.
Mr. Pruitt’s order contradicted the E.P.A.’s own exhaustive scientific analyses, which had been reviewed by industry experts and modified in response to their concerns.
In 2015, an agency report concluded that infants and children in some parts of the country were being exposed to unsafe amounts of the chemical in drinking water, and to a dangerous byproduct. Agency researchers could not determine any level of exposure that was safe.
Credit Stephen Crowley/The New York Times
An updated human health risk assessment compiled by the E.P.A. in November found that health problems were occurring at lower levels of exposure than had previously been believed harmful.
Infants, children, young girls and women are exposed to dangerous levels of chlorpyrifos through diet alone, the agency said. Children are exposed to levels up to 140 times the safety limit.
“The science was very complicated, and it took the E.P.A. a long time to figure out how to deal with what the Columbia study was saying,” said Jim Jones, who ran the chemical safety unit at the agency for five years, leaving after President Trump took office.
The evidence that the pesticide causes neurodevelopmental damage to children “is not a slam dunk, the way it is for some of the most well-understood chemicals,” Mr. Jones conceded. Still, he added, “very few chemicals fall into that category.”
But the law governing the regulation of pesticides used on foods doesn’t require conclusive evidence for regulators to prohibit potentially dangerous chemicals. It errs on the side of caution.
The Food Quality Protection Act set a new safety standard for pesticides and fungicides when it was passed in 1996, requiring the E.P.A. to determine that a chemical can be used with “a reasonable certainty of no harm.”
The act also required the agency to take the unique vulnerabilities of young children into account and to use a wide margin of safety when setting tolerance levels.
Children may be exposed to multiple pesticides that have the same toxic mechanism of action at the same time, the law noted. They’re also exposed through routes other than food, like drinking water.
Environmental groups returned last month to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, asking that the E.P.A. be ordered to ban the pesticide. The court has already admonished the agency for what it called “egregious” delays in responding to a petition filed by the groups in 2007.
The E.P.A. responded on April 28, saying it had met its deadline when Mr. Pruitt denied the petition.
Erik D. Olson, director of the health program at Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the groups petitioning the E.P.A. to ban chlorpyrifos, disagreed.
“The E.P.A. has twice made a formal determination that this chemical is not safe,” Mr. Olson said. “The agency cannot just decide not to act on that. They have not put out a new finding of safety, which is what they would have to do to allow it to continue to be used.”
Chlorpyrifos belongs to a class of pesticides called organophosphates, a diverse group of compounds that includes nerve agents like sarin gas.
It acts by blocking an enzyme called cholinesterase, which causes a toxic buildup of acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter that carries signals from nerve cells to their targets.
Acute poisoning with the pesticide can cause nausea, dizziness, convulsions and even death in humans, as well as animals.
Credit Lucy Nicholson/Reuters, via Newscom
But the scientific question has been whether humans, and especially small children, are affected by chronic low-level exposures that don’t cause any obvious immediate effects — and if so, at what threshold these exposures cause harm.
Scientists have been studying the impact of chlorpyrifos on brain development in young rats under controlled laboratory conditions for decades. These studies have shown that the chemical has devastating effects on the brain.
“Even at exquisitely low doses, this compound would stop cells from dividing and push them instead into programmed cell death,” said Theodore Slotkin, a scientist at Duke University Medical Center, who has published dozens of studies on rats exposed to chlorpyrifos shortly after birth.
In the animal studies, Dr. Slotkin was able to demonstrate a clear cause-and effect relationship. It didn’t matter when the young rats were exposed; their developing brains were vulnerable to its effects throughout gestation and early childhood, and exposure led to structural abnormalities, behavioral problems, impaired cognitive performance and depressive-like symptoms.
And there was no safe window for exposure. “There doesn’t appear to be any period of brain development that is safe from its effects,” Dr. Slotkin said.
Manufacturers say there is no proof low-level exposures to chlorpyrifos causes similar effects in humans. Carol Burns, a consultant to Dow Chemical, said the Columbia study pointed to an association between exposure just before birth and poor outcomes, but did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
Studies of children exposed to other organophosphate pesticides, however, have also found lower IQ scores and attention problems after prenatal exposure, as well as abnormal reflexes in infants and poor lung function in early childhood.
“When you weigh the evidence across the different studies that have looked at this, it really does pretty strongly point the finger that organophosphate pesticides as a class are of significant concern to child neurodevelopment,” said Stephanie M. Engel, an associate professor of epidemiology at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Dr. Engel has published research showing that exposure to organophosphates during pregnancy may impair cognitive development in children.
But Dr. Burns argues that other factors may be responsible for cognitive impairment, and that it is impossible to control for the myriad factors in children’s lives that affect health outcomes. “It’s not a criticism of a study — that’s the reality of observational studies in human beings,” she said. “Poverty, inadequate housing, poor social support, maternal depression, not reading to your children — all these kinds of things also ultimately impact the development of the child, and are interrelated.”
While animal studies can determine causality, it’s difficult to do so in human studies, said Brenda Eskenazi, director of the Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health at the University of California, Berkeley.
“The human literature will never be as strong as the animal literature, because of the problems inherent in doing research on humans,” she said.
With regard to organophosphates, she added, “the animal literature is very strong, and the human literature is consistent, but not as strong.”
If the E.P.A. will not end use of the pesticide, consumer preferences may.
In California, the nation’s breadbasket, use of chlorpyrifos has been declining, Dr. Eskenazi said. Farmers have responded to rising demand for organic produce and to concerns about organophosphate pesticides.
She is already concerned about what chemicals will replace it. While organophosphates and chlorpyrifos in particular have been scrutinized, newer pesticides have not been studied so closely, she said.
“We know more about chlorpyrifos than any other organophosphate; that doesn’t mean it’s the most toxic;” she said, adding, “There may be others that are worse offenders.”
An article on Tuesday about the pesticide chlorpyrifos described acetylcholine incorrectly. It is an ester of choline and acetic acid, not a protein. The article also misstated part of the name of a court that was asked to ban the pesticide. It is the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, not the Ninth District.