B for balloon

This is a sweet short story about two best friends who’ve been working together for more than 20 years. It’s a good reminder about how important it is to find a job you really enjoy doing.

Understanding the English accents will be good — if a little challenging — listening practice.


A healthy vending machine

I bought a book of short stories at a used book store years ago that was organized by length of the story. But it wasn’t by word count; it was by how long it would take you to read the story. So the first section was titled “Waiting in line at the supermarket” and others were “Waiting at a doctor’s office” and “Commuting on the train” and others I don’t remember.

This website is like that: Short Edition

It’s a France-based company, and the website is in English and French.

You can choose 1-minute, 3-minute, or 5-minute stories. For many non-native speakers, though, you might think of them as 5-minute, 10-minute, or 15-minute stories?

There’s also a section of Classics by century where you can find short stories and poems by such authors as Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland), Shakespeare, O. Henry, and many more.

And according to Mental Floss, they have installed vending machines that dispense short stories. The first one was put in France’s main airport and there are more than a hundred around that country and about 20 in the U.S.

A day in the life

The California Sunday Magazine has a whole issue about teenagers this month. Because:

“We wanted to see how they’re living right now in the world adults made for them and how they’re beginning to change it — and maybe get a glimpse of where we’re all headed together.”

Here’s the cover photo:

Stories include:

Life advice from teen experts — how to meet new people, how to get people to care about something, how to say no, how to throw a good dance party (and more)

The two hour commute — see how three teenagers commute, with illustrations

How they do lunch

A conversation about social media and politics

Hanging out

This is a great model for a cross-cultural comparison or a research project about teenagers or university students in Japan: Find people to survey, ask good questions, analyze their answers, add photos and illustrations.

First books

Do you remember the first book that had an impact on you? A few that I remember very, very vividly from my childhood, as much for the pictures as the stories. Not suggesting you should buy these, but take a look at the “Look inside”:

Anyway, I thought about this after seeing this video about a non-profit called First Book in a rural part of Iowa, where a “lunch lady” is organizing a book bus to help get books to children during vacations:

Our short winter vacation is coming up soon. What do you plan to read?