'So to Speak' by Shirley and Harold Kobliner is on sale now!

So to Speak is my parents’ love letter to language and to each other

I love to write about the lessons that my parents, Harold and Shirley Kobliner, taught my brothers and me over the years. (Just take a look here and here.) I view each and every one as a gift.

As I move through the first holiday season without the two of them, they have, in true fashion, left one last gift—not just for my family, but for everyone. That gift is a book. I’m so proud to announce that So to Speak: 11,000 Expressions That’ll Knock Your Socks Off has been published by Simon & Schuster. (Order it here.) In this quarantined world of Zoom and remote everything, this book is a saving grace, offering people of all ages a fun way to engage and connect—no screens required.

First, some backstory. By practicing what they called “the art of listening,” Shirley and Harold Kobliner spent 13 years jotting down what grew into a list of 11,000 expressions, idioms, and figures of speech. These were gathered from friends and family, or heard on TV, radio, or at the theater. Googling was a no-no, as was looking at existing expressions collections.

As New York City educators who fought for the rights of all people of all backgrounds, races, and abilities, Harold and Shirley felt that expressions reflect who we are, where we’ve lived, and when we grew up. They knew that sharing them is a meaningful and enriching way to connect across cultures and generations—and with their own grandchildren. Everyone who learned about their project—people of all ages and from all walks of life—became, like them, expression-obsessed!

Harold and Shirley Kobliner with So To Speak shirt cardboards

Shirley saved the cardboard inserts that came back with folded shirts from the dry cleaner. She and Harold wrote expressions on them until they had to upgrade to legal pads.

So to Speak has more than two dozen word games to go along with its 351 beautiful and superclever illustrations. It’s been praised by some of the world’s most prominent language experts—from New York Times best-selling authors to a former president of the Dictionary Society of North America.

So To Speak games chapter

From the Kobliner kitchen table to coffee tables across the nation, So to Speak is a catalyst to keep the conversation going. I hope you and your family enjoy it, and I wish you a warm, expressions-filled holiday season.

expressions Family figures of speech Harold Kobliner idioms Parents Shirley Kobliner so to speak

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