“Reading” the National Geographic is a particular kind of experience because so much of its content is visual—instantly absorbed and at the visceral level. I rarely read through all of it but always feel awakened by even the smallest bit of its content, even if I’ve just leafed through it in the dentist’s office. I’ve just finished looking at the magazine’s special issue on gender, which came out in January. It studies gender from many perspectives, considering it in terms of physical and emotional development, rites of passage, education, earning power, health, etc. in countries around the world. And, as always, its visual depictions are gripping and irresistible. Two pieces (one more visual than the other) were particularly interesting: “I am Nine Years Old”—the responses of nine-year-old kids around the world to the question of how gender affects their lives; and “Dangerous Lives of Girls,” a description of the plight of girls in Sierra Leone, and how education is often their passport to freedom.