Letters: This I Believe, Darwin, Addison

Liane Hansen reads listeners' reactions to last week's "This I Believe" essay by 6-year-old Tarak McLain, a suggestion for the upcoming series on Charles Darwin, and a note of praise for our interview with gospel singer Shari Addison.

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LIANE HANSEN, host:

Time now for your letters. Last week's essay for our "This I Believe" series was written and read by 7n-year-old Tarak McLain of Austin, Texas. As a 6-year-old kindergartener, Tarak wrote down 100 things he believes in, and read 30 of them on our program. His reading brought in many responses such as this one from Cathy Sheen(ph) of Lafia, Colorado. "Tarak McLain's '30 Things I Believe' was a perfect way to start a Sunday morning. As I listened to this wise little boy, he brought tears to my eyes. Thank you, Tarak, for your inspiration. Life is good."

But a few of you found Tarak's list of beliefs just a bit too sophisticated for a 6-year-old. Chris Williams(ph) of Montclair, New Jersey, said the segment was an obviously parental-inspired, if not written, essay. As a parent of a 6-year-old, this smacks of adult intervention. And Paul Wheeler(ph) of Baltimore wrote: The 6-year-old believer has achieved an important insight and learned a vital skill at an unusually early age. To stay on his mother's good side, he must take accurate dictation.

My preview of our upcoming series on Charles Darwin with NPR science correspondent Joe Palca brought in many notes of anticipation and a few suggestions. Steven Burke(ph) of Wellfleet, Massachusetts, wrote: Although Darwin gets all the credit for introducing the world to the theory of evolution, he was not the only person working on the idea at the time. In fact, it has been speculated that he may have stolen evidence to prove his theory from Alfred Wallace. It is believed that Wallace may have become the father of evolution had his work in the Amazon River Valley not gone down in a shipping accident. Will Alfred Wallace be given any credit for his years of work during NPR's Darwin series?

We also received a response with a personal connection to my interview with Shari Addison, the gospel singer whose first CD was just released, and who was invited to perform at the African-American church inaugural ball. Pastor Calvin Singleton Jr., of Perth Amboy, New Jersey, left this note in the comment section on our Web site: The song Shari has decided to sing during the inauguration ball, "It's Your Time," was written by my brother, Clarence Singleton. I agree with Shari that this song is appropriate for this historic time in our country.

(Soundbite of song "It's your Time")

Ms. SHARI ADDISON: (Singing) How can I declare? Your victory. No, you can't deny for it's your time. It's your time. God has not forgotten you...

HANSEN: Notes of praises, skepticism, or thanks are always welcome. You can send an email by going to our Web site, npr.org, and clicking on the "Contact Us" link. And remember to check out our blog, npr.org/soapbox. I have a fun video blog about Zippo lighters. This is NPR News.

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