The Reading Culture

Masthead Waves
author gregory maguire

Gregory Maguire

Gregory Maguire expresses himself with extreme precision. While many of us may grasp for words to communicate a specific emotion or to describe a series of events, Gregory seemingly has words and turns of phrase on command. What a delight it is to listen to Gregory talk about his journey, his writing, and his thoughts on a wide variety of topics. 


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author Nina LaCour

Nina LaCour

If Nina LaCour were a drink, she would be a cozy cup of tea. You’re not rushing to finish a conversation with Nina. Rather, you are spending time exploring the details. And that is exactly what we did in this episode.


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illustrator LeUyen Pham

LeUyen Pham

In this episode, LeUyen tells us why she prefers to be an “art chameleon” (and how that led to challenges early in her career). She talks about how support from her teachers showed her that a career as an artist was even a possibility and how an accusation of cheating (well, not really) put her on the right path.


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author Nicola Yoon

Nicola Yoon

In this episode, Nicola Yoon tells us why she fell in love with the romance genre, how she found her way to writing as a career after 15 years in finance, and she shares her own love story about how she ended up with her husband and fellow writer, David Yoon. She also tells us about their new company Joy Revolution which aims to bring more diversity to the romance genre.


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author Derrick Barnes

Derrick Barnes

In this episode, Derrick tells the story of how music inspired him to write, how his idols taught him to never compromise his voice as a black man, and why he considers himself a freedom fighter. 


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Brandy Colbert

Brandy Colbert

Brandy Colbert is a true acolyte of the craft of writing. She spent her youth creating stories of her own and occasionally borrowing and reinterpreting tales from TV. After studying journalism in college, she spent the early stages of her career contributing to niche magazines, where she honed her research prowess.


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John Schu

John Schu

John Schu’s entire life has been shaped by books. As a kid, he fell in love with Shel Silverstein; Emily Dickinson comforted him as he was battling an eating disorder, and “The One and Only Ivan,” well, that book changed his life. In fact, it nearly put him into debt (he tells that story in the episode!)


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mark oshiro

Mark Oshiro

Mark Oshiro was taught to fear the world. To be someone they were not and to repress someone they were. But books were an escape. Books taught them that freedom was possible.


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reading culture podcast guests from 2023

Yearbook 2023

With the 2023 year coming to a close (our first full year in production!), we wanted to celebrate. And what better way to do that than high school yearbook superlative style?


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author oge mora

Oge Mora

Life is full of small pleasures, bits of magic in ordinary moments that so often go underappreciated. Oge Mora wants to draw attention to those small things and show us the true depth and meaning those moments have in our lives.


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author Hena Khan

Hena Khan

Hena Khan didn’t believe her perspective mattered. As a Pakistani-American Muslim, she grew up not seeing her or her family reflected in the media she was consuming. As any kid might do, she concluded that it was simply because her experience was not important, a realization that became clearer in hindsight. Recalling her childhood writing, she discovered she had unintentionally whitewashed her homemade family newspaper.


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Author Daniel Nayeri

Daniel Nayeri

Doing is a gift, the purpose of doing is an obligation. As a writer, Daniel Nayeri is well aware of the impact he has on readers. There is perhaps no more intimate power than becoming the dialogue in one’s head, and he feels strongly about using that power to have a positive impact on those who read his words. Part of his purpose, or obligation, he believes, is to “re-mystify the world.” Just wait until we talk about why cherries grow in pairs! 


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podcast episode with Dan Santat

Dan Santat

The media and stories around us around us are more than just entertainment, they provide a common space, a piece of the world around us that connects us to others. We learn from these stories, shape our own views and ideas, and listen to and share these ideas with others. They provide a purpose often overlooked, which Dan Santat, as the son of Thai immigrants in rural SoCal, relied upon to connect with a foreign world.


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author kacen callender

Kacen Callender

Just as books provide readers with a space to learn, see themselves, reflect, and cope with their inner thoughts, writing has served as a means for Kacen Callender to process and heal from their trauma. Throughout their writing journey, Kacen has traversed the various stages and ages of their life, opening wounds and finding ways to heal them through fiction. 


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author kwame alexander

Kwame Alexander

Kwame is best known "The Crossover," "Booked," "The Door of No Return," and numerous other novels and poetry collections. He also recently authored his memoir "Why Fathers Cry at Night." He has received a Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King Book Award among many other awards, and this year "The Crossover" was adapted into a Disney Plus original TV series. 


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author neal shusterman

Neal Shusterman

Neal Shusterman is best known for his "Unwind Dystology" series, his Prinz winning "Scythe" trilogy, and "Challenger Deep," which won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature in 2015. In this episode, he shares how getting immersed in his favorite fictional worlds inspired him to create some of his own, he’ll talk about how and why he prioritizes characters to enhance immersion, and how seriously he takes sticking to the rules of his world.


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author jon klassen

Jon Klassen

Jon is a Caldecott Medal winner author and illustrator known for his distinctive minimalistic art style and quirky but profound writing. His work includes his Hat Trilogy, starting with "I Want My Hat Back", along with newer works such as "The Rock from the Sky," "The Skull: A Tyrolean Folktale" and many collaborations with his longtime friend and author Mac Barnett.  


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Jacqueline Woodson

Jacqueline Woodson recognizes that our stories are part of an enduring legacy that stretches far beyond our lifetimes. Embracing the concept of a continuum, she draws inspiration from preceding generations and carries their narratives forward in her writing. Woodson's impactful voice has left an indelible mark on the literary landscape, inspiring millions and advocating for progress and inclusivity.  


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Matt de la Peña

Hailing from a working-class border town in Southern California, Matt de la Peña (Last Stop on Market Street, Mexican WhiteBoy, Milo Imagines the World) grew up in an environment that deeply valued strength and stoicism. Instilled with a strong work ethic and the pursuit of opportunities, he followed in the footsteps of the men in his family and community. But still, there was a deeper truth to life within a buried emotional side that he felt compelled to explore. 


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Sabaa Tahir

Sabaa Tahir’s (“All My Rage,” “An Ember in the Ashes” quartet) upbringing in the Mojave desert, isolated nearly 100 miles from the nearest city, exposed her to an unforgiving landscape and many unforgiving truths of humanity. Within this backdrop, one place held significant importance in shaping her worldview: The Motel, a small business operated by her immigrant parents.  As she notes, “The good is what helps you survive, but the bad is what makes you wary and careful and makes you lonely at times.” Sabaa ventured into the realm of academia and later pursued a career in journalism, where her understanding of the world's imperfections deepened. The essence of Sabaa’s stories lies in the raw exploration of sorrow and frustration…and taking action.  


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Angeline Boulley

Angeline Boulley was born into story-telling people. As a member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians was first introduced to the art through generational oral tradition. Yet during her childhood, Angeline struggled with her biracial indigenous identity. In searching for representation through the stories in books she was reading, she realized that the examples she found lacked depth and true experience. 


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Yuyi Morales

In this episode, Yuyi explores her experience as an immigrant to the United States and her “constant immigrant journey” now that she is living and creating in Mexico. She opens up about everything from how her stories helped quell her homesickness to the inspiration for her more recent picture books. She shares an incredible story about how one book completely changed her perspective on reading and made her a reader. We discuss magical realism, and Yuyi’s secret to finding joy in every crevice of life, no matter the starting point.


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M.T. Anderson

In this episode, M.T. takes us on his own journey to embracing these genres as a writer, he talks about the growing relevance of their ability to offer societal critiques and representation in the increasingly hostile censorship movements, and he tells us about his new story where he uses a new perspective to learn about the world (his dog’s).

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Shadra Strickland

In this episode, author-illustrator Shadra Strickland takes us through the important artistic influences and moments in her life that led her to this debut solo picture book. She shares the elements of art that stand out to her and how she applies them to her work, and we also discuss the rise and ethics of AI art.


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Victoria Jamieson

Author-illustrator Victoria Jamieson ("When Stars Are Scattered," "All's Faire in Middle School," "Roller Girl") talks to us about why she loves illustrations in literature, authors that inspired her, and how a dream job rejection inspired her first book.


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Erin Entrada Kelly

Newbery Award-winning author Erin Entrada Kelly (“Blackbird Fly,” “Hello, Universe,” “We Dream of Space”) discusses her favorite books growing up, her path to youth literature, and why she believes kids are not ‘incomplete vessels.’ 


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James Ponti

Author of the popular series "City of Spies" and "Framed!", James Ponti shares the movies that influenced him, how locations inspire his work, and his transition from movies and television to kidlit.


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Ellen Oh

Author of the “Prophecy” and “Spirit Hunters” series and the founder of We Need Diverse Books, Ellen Oh is equal parts no-nonsense and hilarious truth-teller.


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Nic Stone

Nic Stone (Dear Martin, Clean Getaway) talks about her passion for speaking out and giving a voice to the stories less told.


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Grace Lin

Grace Lin (The Year of the Dog, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon) shares her thoughts on the value art provides to those who experience it and those who create it, and how it contributes to getting us in touch with our humanity.


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Adam Gidwitz

Adam Gidwitz (A Tale Dark and Grimm, The Inquisitor's Tale) talks about his journey to finding truth through literature and how he found his voice to tell the truths he's learned.


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Kate DiCamillo

Kate DiCamillo (Because of Winn-Dixie, The Tiger Rising) talks about leaning into the dark parts of life to show kids there is always hope.


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Renée Watson

Renée Watson (Piecing Me Together, Ryan Hart series) teaches us about the power of poetry in children's literature, and how the medium gives kids an outlet to find their voice and speak up.


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Zetta Elliott

Zetta Elliott (Dragons in a Bag series) shares how her experience growing up Black in suburban Canada impacted her reading, and ultimately her writing voice. She'll tell us about discovering her heritage, finding her voice, and disrupting the world of children's literature.


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Lamar Giles

In our Halloween Special, Lamar Giles (Fake I.D, The Last Last Day of Summer) talks about how horror helps him cope with his anxieties, and why he believes in the power of the genre for young readers.


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Varian Johnson

Varian Johnson (Playing The Cards You're Dealt, The Parker Inheritance) talks about the importance of diversity extending beyond the pages of children's literature and the significance of the reader-author relationship.


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Karina Yan Glaser

Karina Yan Glaser (The Vanderbeekers series) shares how and why empathy plays such an integral role in her writing. She tells us about her own reading experiences and how they shaped her, along with why she believes in emotional honesty when writing for children.


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Meg Medina

Meg Medina (Merci Suárez series) talks about the role storytelling plays in her life, from writing to passing on her culture to the fight against book bans.

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The Reading Culture

The Reading Culture Trailer

In our new podcast, The Reading Culture, host Jordan Lloyd Bookey will bring you along as we connect with diverse authors about their own journeys as readers and storytellers, as well as what experiences along the way motivated them to read more. Authors will share their perspectives on the cultural climate in children’s and young adult literature. And get excited for each guest's unique, themed reading challenge for students and readers of all ages. Coming this fall.

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