What the Dickens!

Happy Birthday Mr. Dickens!

I started celebrating Dickens’ 200th birthday early, after my hubby James suggested last year that I hit the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City — which is hosting an exhibit titled “Charles Dickens at 200” through Feb.  12. Those of you who can’t race right off to NYC can still enjoy it thanks to an online exhibition.

Remind your children, if they’ve ever read the tale of “Oliver Twist” or seen a staged adaptation of “A Christmas Carol,” that today is the birthday of the man who brought Oliver and Ebenezer to life. No need for 200 birthday candles, but it’s nice to help kids remember the artists behind the arts we enjoy every day.

Several children’s books about Charles Dickens have been released in recent months — including “A Boy Called Dickens” by Deborah Hopkinson and John Hendrix, “Charles Dickens: England’s Most Captivating Storyteller” by Catherine Wells-Cole, “Charles Dickens: Scenes From an Extraordinary Life” by Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom, and “Charles Dickens and the Street Children of London” by Andrea Warren.

Adults eager to learn more about Dickens can visit the Charles Dickens Museum in London — in person or online. Folks visiting London can also see Dickens’ grave, located inside Westminster Abbey — where England held a ceremony today in the writer’s honor. Participants included actor Ralph Fiennes, who plays Magwitch in a BBC film adaptation of “Great Expectations” being released later this year.

I suppose the best way to honor Dickens is to revisit his work, but if your bookshelves (or e-readers) are short on Dickens titles, you can still explore his work — and life story — by visiting PBS online. They’ve got a lovely list, with links, to ten good sources of Dickens lore. Also succinct summaries of his writings and serial publications — plus his thoughts on both America and the social injustices of his day.

While Dickens lived through changes wrought by the industrial revolution, we’re living through changes born of the technological revolution. And social injustice still exists. Perhaps revisiting Dickens’ works — whether by tablet or traditional book — will leave us all inspired to do something about it.

— Lynn

Coming up: I’m just a bill…

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