The Reading Culture Podcast Unpacks the Power and Purpose of Kidlit

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Beanstack co-founder and edtech trailblazer Jordan Lloyd Bookey has devoted her career to the big-picture challenge of expanding families’ access to education and reading. Her new podcast, The Reading Culture, turns a more intimate lens on children’s literature via deep-dive personal interviews with kidlit authors.

 

Beanstack co-founder and edtech trailblazer Jordan Lloyd Bookey has devoted her career to the big-picture challenge of expanding families’ access to education and reading. Now, her new podcast, The Reading Culture, turns a more intimate lens on children’s literature, via deep-dive personal interviews with kidlit authors themselves. In a “fireside chat” format, her guests—from Newbery winners to up-and-comers—unpack their own childhood reading moments, their intentions for their past and future work, and their proposals for building stronger cultures of reading within communities. The Reading Culture is for anyone who loves reading and cares about children’s literature, but its focus will resonate especially with librarians and educators.

“How I Built This” Meets “Fresh Air”

Author Karina Yan Glaser (also a show guest) calls Jordan “the children’s book version of Terry Gross,” and indeed, the podcast resembles How I Built This meets Fresh Air, for kidlit authors. Each interview is part memoir, part discussion of craft, and part insider brainstorming session, as writers lay bare both their praises and critiques of the kidlit industry. Topics run the gamut from light anecdote (Karina Yan Glaser reveals that she wrote The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street in one month, motivated by a challenge from her husband) to weighty contemplation (Renée Watson mulls how poetry can potentially heal social trauma).

Beloved Authors and New Voices

The show airs a new episode every other week, featuring both established authors and emerging talents. Guests include a wide array of Newbery and Caldecott winners, New York Times bestsellers, and a former national ambassador for young people’s literature. Aligning with Beanstack’s core mission statement of inclusion, the podcast features a large number of women authors and authors of color.

Unforgettable Passages

In each episode of The Reading Culture, Jordan asks guests to share a passage from a book that had an outsized impact on them. Authors read the excerpts aloud (often showing that they may have missed a career in theater!) and delve into how those words shaped the writer they became and what they continue to write. They offer an intriguing perspective on a surprisingly eclectic range of selections, from Nikki Giovanni to E.B. White to Stephen King.

Author-Curated Reading List Challenges

Every author who joins the show shares their own personally curated reading list challenge, available free and ready-to-use through the Beanstack app. Examples: Newbery award-winner Meg Medina offers the “Girls in Motion” challenge, featuring athletic girls who know the power of their voice; Karina Yan Glaser leans into setting with “Only in New York,” a collection of books in which New York City plays a starring role; and Varian Johnson curates “Drawn in Color,” a list of graphic novels that feature diverse characters and are written by diverse authors.

Featured Librarians

The Reading Culture wraps each episode with a brief tip or story from a Beanstack featured librarian, focusing on concrete strategies for setting up “electric connections” for their young readers. Some are deeply personal—Leah Weyand of Tulsa City-County Library shares a powerful response she witnessed to an author visit by Jason Reynolds—while other librarians share their home-run book recommendations, or what’s in their “secret sauce” to inspire kids to read more.

Jordan and the Beanstack team hope the show inspires listeners to read more themselves, and to bring lessons and insights to their own communities, wherever and whoever they may be. Subscribe to The Reading Culture on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

 

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