NPR Staff

In Courtney Banks' apartment in Chicago's Kenwood neighborhood, Michelle Saenz opens a laptop.

Banks' youngest child, 18-month-old son, Rasean Wright, squirms and flops on his mother's lap.

He's why Saenz is here: to help Banks talk to her son, to build the little boy's brain.

She is part of a project called the Thirty Million Words Initiative, developed at the University of Chicago after researchers found that children in poor households often hear fewer words spoken to them than youngsters in more comfortable families.

The Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art has a new exhibition and the lineup of artists is stunning: Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Rauschenberg, just to name a few.

The art, now worth billions, was bought in the 1970s under Shah Reza Pahlavi, whose coffers were overflowing with oil revenue at the time. The shah sought to modernize and Westernize the country in general, and put his wife, Empress Farah Pahlavi, in charge of acquiring the art.

On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on bus in Montgomery, Ala. — and changed the course of history.

Her action sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which would eventually lead to the end of legally segregated public transportation.

And for many Americans, Parks is the civil rights icon they love to love: the unassuming seamstress who, supposedly, just got tired one day and unwittingly launched the modern civil rights movement.

As part of a series called My Big Break, All Things Considered is collecting stories of triumph, big and small. These are the moments when everything seems to click, and people leap forward into their careers.

Tim Gunn is famous for his catchphrase — "Make it work!" — his snazzy outfits and his calm, can-do attitude. As a mentor to designers on Project Runway, his unflappable demeanor soothes many a stressed-out contestant.

But Gunn wasn't always so self-possessed.

It may be the most sensational court case in Britain since the Great Train Robbers went on trial in 1964.

Jurors in London have been hearing evidence against four men who are accused of stealing cash and jewelry worth 14 million pounds — about $21 million — from the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Ltd. last April.

The New England area where the Pilgrims first settled is cranberry country.

These early colonists likely enjoyed a version of cranberry sauce on their autumn tables — though it probably took the form of a rough, savory compote, rather than the sweet spin we're most familiar with.

For ideas on using this bitter red berry of the season in new ways this Thanksgiving, NPR Morning Edition's Renee Montagne turned to Chris Kimball, founder of America's Test Kitchen.

If you are turkey-averse, turkeyphobic or just bored with the bird, fear not. We've got some other main dish ideas for you.

"What I think is cool is to put a center roast on the table that comes from the woods itself: something wild, something home-hunted, like venison," Amy Thielen, Minnesotan and author of The New Midwestern Table, tells All Things Considered's Ari Shapiro. Deer, says Thielen, is "one of those secret underground proteins in the American meat-eating story."

Days of speculation and anxiety followed the Paris attacks. Then, last week, the Paris prosecutor's office confirmed that two of the suicide bombers did pass through Greece last month as part of the wave of refugees fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa.

In the U.S., the emotional debate about whether or not to shut Syrian refugees out altogether gained new traction in presidential politics.

It's common wisdom that families should avoid talking about politics around the Thanksgiving table.

But if you're reading this, you might be in an NPR family. And coming up on election year — with polls and gaffes every day — won't it be hard to talk about Car Talk the whole night?

So we turned to Miss Manners, aka writer Judith Martin, to ensure our etiquette's up-to-date this holiday season.

For Martin, the age-old rule, "don't talk politics," still stands.

In a run-down stretch of Chicago's South Michigan Avenue, miles from the museums and skyscrapers, an army of foot-high paving stones stand on shelves along the street. It's a handmade memorial to honor the young people who have died at the hands of the city's street violence. A name is written on each of the 574 stones.

But they are not just names to Diane Latiker.

When the idea to write a Nordic cookbook landed on Magnus Nilsson's desk, he was against it. He says it was offensive that someone would think all of Nordic cuisine could fit, let alone belong, in one book.

"The Nordic is a geographical region, not really a cultural region," says the author, who's also head chef at the Michelin-starred Faviken restaurant, 400 miles north of Stockholm. "It's too big, and too varied." (It includes Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden and several groups of autonomous islands.)

He eventually came around.

For those who like to try new recipes at Thanksgiving, let Clay Dunn and Zach Patton be your guides. They're the couple behind the food blog, The Bitten Word, and every year before the holiday, they scan 10 leading food magazines to identify recipe trends.

The upcoming Thanksgiving holiday is generally celebrated with a bounty of food — and a mountain of leftovers, some of which, let's face it, will end up in the trash.

Thirty governors have now asked for the resettlement of Syrian refugees into their states to be stopped amid security concerns.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a 2016 Republican presidential candidate, was among those who joined the early call in the wake of last week's terrorist attacks in Paris. But just months ago, Kasich had encouraged President Obama to accept the refugees.

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