Grace Lin

Episode 10

Grace Lin

Oh, the Humanity: Grace Lin on Art and the Human Experience

Masthead Waves

About this episode

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.


" Creating something is not just for people to view, but it's for the creator. It's that idea that when you create, it puts you more in touch with your humanity and that being in touch with your humanity is what you are giving through your artwork. " - Grace Lin


For Grace Lin, the value of literature comes from its ability to allow you to understand other humans and get in touch with your humanity. But this value isn't just from reading. As a writer, she recognizes the change that the artist goes through in the process of creating. In her own experience, the process of writing has allowed her to understand and feel comfortable with her Asian-American identity, which in turn has helped her in making content for other young Asian-Americans who are struggling in the same ways she used to.
It's these experiences and understandings that have contributed to her passion for keeping humanity in writing and fighting for that access. That's why she has so eloquently spoken about the importance of reading other perspectives despite potential initial discomfort in her apt metaphor of putting on a new pair of glasses. In this episode, she'll take us through all of that and more.

  • Chapter 1 - ThE LeEtal hOuSe
  • Chapter 2 - Bees for Betsy, but not for Grace
  • Chapter 3 - For those to come
  • Chapter 4 - The Search for Delicious
  • Chapter 5 - The thousand-dollar dandelion
  • Chapter 6 - New Glasses
  • Chapter 7 - The art of effort
  • Chapter 8 - Chinese Menu
  • Chapter 9 - New Faces, Familiar Places
  • Chapter 10 - Beanstack Featured Librarian

Grace's Reading Challenge

Download the free reading challenge worksheet, or view the challenge materials on our helpdesk.

zoobean_podcast-challenge_2022_Grace-Lin__Worksheet P1.   zoobean_podcast-challenge_2022_Grace-Lin__Worksheet P2




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Grace Lin: Creating these books over all these years has really changed me in terms of claiming my identity, 'cause now I can... I really feel that I am Asian. I am, like my outside matches my inside.

Jordan Lloyd Bookey: Art is more than the end product, it's about the time sacrificed by the artist, it's about the change that they go through in creating their work, and it's about what those sacrifices and changes can offer others. That's what Grace Lin believes, that the process of writing, the human effort and evolution involved holds a lot of its value, not just for the writer, but for the readers too. She's trouble that shifts like the recent growth in book bans and even the trendiness of AI-generated content are disconnecting us from an essential part of the reading experience.

Grace Lin: Creating something is not just for people to view, but it's for the creator, and it's that idea that when you create, it puts you more in touch with your humanity, and that being in touch with your humanity is what you are giving through your artwork.

Jordan Lloyd Bookey: Grace Lin is a children's writer and illustrator whose work focuses on Asian-American experiences. She has won Newbery and Caldecott honors and a host of other awards throughout her career. Grace also shares her perspective through television broadcasts, her podcast Best Book Friends and a variety of speaking engagements, including her widely viewed TED Talk. In this episode, Grace joins us to talk about Daoist dandelions, the need for artistic suffering and the rich mythology of Chinese cuisine. We'll also talk about the metaphoric lenses that people put on when they read and why that's led to one of Grace's own titles being withheld from classrooms in Florida.


Jordan Lloyd Bookey: My name is Jordan Lloyd Bookey, and this is The Reading Culture, a show where we speak with authors and reading enthusiasts to explore ways to build a stronger culture of reading in our communities. We dive into their personal experiences, their inspirations, and why their stories and ideas motivate kids to read more.


Grace Lin: So my earliest memories of reading and enjoying reading, and maybe this is why I love audio books so much is because I really loved being read to. My parents are immigrants, they are both from Taiwan, they never read to me because English is their second language. Their idea of books was always that it was something to study and learn from, like educational books, not books of leisure. But my mom, I remember very, very vividly, bought me the book, The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton when I was probably in kindergarten, and it was... This was so long ago. It came with a record, so you could listen to somebody reading it to you, and I remember listening to it so much that the record got warped, and so whenever the voice... It was like a lady's voice saying, "The little house," but now, after listening to it so much, it'd be like, "The little house". [chuckle] So now, when I read that book to my daughter, I was like, "The little house," and she's like "Why are you saying it that way?" And I was like, "Oh, it's just a memory."


Jordan Lloyd Bookey: Personal joke.

Grace Lin: Yeah.

Jordan Lloyd Bookey: That's pretty cool. So you were... I think it's kind of like that your mom, the thought still despite her perspective, I guess, on books, but still had this thought to wanna get you that book has set you on this path unknowingly. Did you have a school library where you were... Do you remember going to the library, public library a lot? 

Grace Lin: Yeah, we did. In elementary school, there was a school library, and that's where I discovered Carolyn Haywood's books like "B" is for Betsy, Betsy and Billy, like Eddie and His Big Deals. I don't know if people still remember those books, but I love those books, so it was like a whole series, and I read those non-stop. I saw everything, I loved. It was school, family, school buses, teachers, classmates, but of course, back then, there was nobody that looked like me in there, so it was always like I always saw everything I loved except for me, because it was always white characters, lovely white characters, but always just white characters.

Jordan Lloyd Bookey: Yeah. And I think at that time, especially, I suspect your teachers had no... You were the only one in your school.

Grace Lin: Yeah. I grew up in Upstate New York. Our family at the time was one of the very few marginalized families in the area, and so that meant during elementary school, I was the only Asian girl in my class, and I was the only Asian girl in my school, except for my sister. So that really gave me this really weird sense of identity, which I think has marked me pretty deeply, which is probably why I make the books I do.

Jordan Lloyd Bookey: Okay. So your identity was deeply marked by this, the sense of isolation or being the only, that you experienced throughout your childhood, and yet in the Year of the Dog, just semi-autobiographical, you really conveyed such a strong sense of Asian-American identity and that was your very first novel. So, I wonder, has your goal always been rooted in helping future Grace Lins avoid that lack of representation or disconnect?

Grace Lin: Listeners probably already know, hopefully, or if not then they're going to learn right now, but most of my... Almost all of my books feature Asian characters, and a lot of them feature Asian culture. I do that, not because I know so much about Asian culture. I actually know very little about Asian culture. It's because I want to know about Asian culture because it's trying to discover a part of myself. Growing up the way that I did, I felt like I looked Asian on the outside, but I never felt Asian on the inside. Creating these books over all these years has really changed me in terms of claiming my identity, 'cause now I can... I really feel that I am Asian. I am, like my outside matches my inside. And that it's okay that I don't speak Chinese well or probably better to say I don't speak Chinese at all. That way people don't test me.


Grace Lin: But, and it's okay that I hold my chopsticks wrong, things like that. Those small things don't define whether or not I'm Asian or not. And regardless, people, millions of people could have told me, "No, no, no. You're still Asian, don't worry." But those are things that I needed to believe, not just know, and to believe that it took me making all of these books. I'm hopeful that for any child who's in similar shoes as me, these books help them believe in themselves as well.


Grace Lin: There was a time once when the earth was still very young, a time some called the oldest days, this was long before there were any people about to dig parts of it up and cut parts of it off. People came along much later, building their towns and castles, which nearly always fell down after a while, and plaguing each other with quarrels in supper parties. The creatures who lived on the earth in that early time stayed each in his own place and kept it beautiful. There were dwarves in the mountains, woldwellers in the forest, mermaids in the lakes, and of course winds in the air.

Grace Lin: There was one particular spot on the earth where a ring of mountains enclose a very dry and dusty place, there are winds and dwarves there, but no mermaids because there weren't any lakes and there were no woldwellers either because forest couldn't grow in so dry a place. Then a remarkable thing happened, up in the mountains, one day, a dwarf was poking about with a sharp tool, looking for a good spot to begin mining. He poked and poked until he had made a very deep hole in the earth, then he poked again and a clear spring water came spurting up in the hole. He hurried in great excitement to tell the other dwarves and they all came running to see the water. They were so pleased with it, that they built over it a fine house of heavy stones and they made a special door out of a flat rock and balanced it in its place very carefully on carved hinges. Then one of them made a whistle out of a small stone which blew a certain very high note tuned to just the right water bowl, so that when you blew it, the door of the rock house would open and when you blew it again, the door would shut. They took turns being in charge of the whistle, and they worked hard to keep the spring clean and beautiful.

Jordan Lloyd Bookey: That's from the introduction to The Search for Delicious by Natalie Babbitt. A book that right from the beginning draws readers into this fantastical and vast world. The story follows a young boy who was tasked by the king to poll the country in a search to discover the meaning of delicious. This is of course, for a dictionary, the prime minister is writing. Grace was in third grade when her teacher read The Search for Delicious out loud to her, and she still remembers the experience. She credits it for sparking the mix of fantasy, myth and whimsy that's so potent in her own writing style.

Grace Lin: It just took me away to a whole different world. I think up to that point, I loved all the books I was reading, but they were kind of like the "B" is for Betsy and everyday occurrences, and I'd loved, love them, but this was probably the first book that I read that really took me to a whole another place, like talking about the exotic locales and feeling like I was in a different world. This was probably the first book that really was a pure window for me, like a complete world whereas all the other ones had been more like mirrors, which I loved too, so we talk about how both are really important.

Jordan Lloyd Bookey: Like that importance of just transporting you to another place, 'cause you've done both in your own career, you've created things that feel very much literally autobiographical, but also places that feel very, completely otherworldly.

Grace Lin: Yeah, and I think that is why I loved creating my book Chinese Menu because the stories are otherworldly because they take place with dragons and monks and emperors and all these things, but it brings it back to today where it's like, and that is why we eat chow mein, that is the story of dumplings. It's kind of like, oh, it's like that window and then you're like, whoa, and then it's like this tangible thing that's like a complete mirror. So it's like that kind of melding of the two that I really like.

Jordan Lloyd Bookey: Yeah, I love that.


Jordan Lloyd Bookey: Chinese Menu is a new book from Grace that you'll hear more about toward the end of the show. It's the latest in a writing career filled with rich representations of culture and imagination. In fact, Grace's professional debut touched on those same themes, and it was published when she was quite a bit younger than you'd expect, although the exact year may be a bit difficult to pin down.

Grace Lin: When I was in 6th or 7th grade, I think it was the... Yes, I think... Not that your listeners are going to care about the exact timeline. I feel like they're all like, "Oh no, you're... "

Jordan Lloyd Bookey: Grace Lin lied about the time she...

Grace Lin: You were in 7th grade not 6th grade.


Jordan Lloyd Bookey: Headline news.

Jordan Lloyd Bookey: It was around that time, perhaps 6th, perhaps 7th grade, that grace gained confidence in her ability to tell stories, and funny enough, as you'll hear when she tells the story, it was through the same opportunity that another incredibly famous children's author also got their first big break.

Grace Lin: I've always felt like books were my friends, all the characters in the books, even when I felt really, really isolated or alone in my real life because of my race or identity or... And just having immigrant parents who don't understand the social norms, like what's a play day, things like that. So whenever I felt a little alienated or isolated, I always could turn to a book, and so that's why I love books so much, and I always made books on my own. So whenever there was a school project, I always made a book. As the school year was ending, one of my teachers stopped me on the way out of class, the last day of class, and she said, "I noticed you liked making books," and I said, "Yes, I do." And she's like, "Well, I found this contest. It's this contest called Written and Illustrated Awards contest for students. And if you write and illustrate your own book and you send it into this big national contest, if you win first place they'll actually publish your book." And I spent all summer making a book and putting it all together, and I mailed it in. Eight, nine months later, I got a letter back and I had not won first place, I didn't win second place or third place, but I did win fourth place, and with fourth place, there was still a cash prize, a prize of $1000.

Jordan Lloyd Bookey: Yeah.

Grace Lin: And... Yeah, that's what I said. [laughter] And my parents had never been like, whoa. But when I realized you could actually make money making books, I'm like, "This is what I want to do. I want to be an author and an illustrator. I wanna make books for my job." So I tell the story to kids and I'm always worried that they think like, oh, it's the money that [chuckle] persuaded me, which is not really a very good reason to become an author and an illustrator, but it was winning the money that made me realize that you could have it as a career.

Jordan Lloyd Bookey: And do you remember what your, what the book you wrote was about? 

Grace Lin: It was called Dandelion Story, and it was based on a project that we had done in social studies. I think we were supposed to study religions of other cultures, and I had studied Daoism, so it was about this dandelion who wanted to see the world and see how other flowers lived in gardens that were forced to bloom. [laughter]

Jordan Lloyd Bookey: I love it.

Grace Lin: But at the end the dandelion dies, it's very dramatic.

Jordan Lloyd Bookey: Absolutely, very dramatic.

Grace Lin: It's not very good, but it's really hilarious like now reading it, 'cause it's so dramatically didactic.


Grace Lin: And so years later, after I've published all these books, right, and I'm like, "I only won fourth place in that contest. Who won first place?" [chuckle] And so one night...

Jordan Lloyd Bookey: You went back to check it out.

Grace Lin: Yeah. I was like, "Who won first place?"

Jordan Lloyd Bookey: That was funny.

Grace Lin: I was like, "I need to know." And so I spent all night on the internet searching and searching, 'cause they don't do this contest anymore, so it was really hard to find. But I found out that the person who won first place was a boy back then, but now he's a man and he's a man probably every child knows 'cause his name is Dav Pilkey, the author and illustrator of Captain Underpants. So when I tell the story to kids, especially at schools, I tell them that I lost to Captain Underpants and somehow that doesn't... They all are like, "Oh, that makes sense."

Jordan Lloyd Bookey: Right. Yeah, you did. You feel like, it's okay.


Jordan Lloyd Bookey: Last year, I had the privilege of attending the Walter Dean Myers Awards for Outstanding Children's Literature, affectionately known as The Walters. At this event, diverse children's authors from across the country are awarded for their work in celebration of Walter Dean Myers' legacy. Grace Lin presented a speech at the ceremony entitled Windows, Mirrors and Glasses, Seeing The World Through Diverse Books. In the speech, she gave a powerful commentary about seeing and acknowledging marginalized stories. She used the act metaphor of putting on a new pair of glasses.

Grace Lin: I understand that it is really disconcerting to put on a new pair of glasses, and that's why I said in my speech, I didn't have glasses, I didn't want glasses, I did want... But they said you need glasses. And then when I finally put on the glasses and I could see clearly, it was such a revelation. It was like, I could see every blade of grass, I could see like the wires in the light bulbs. And first it was like, Whoa. Is this what the world really looks like? And then after realizing this is what the world really looks like, I was looking around, I was like, it was so disconcerting. It was almost like it was making me dizzy. It was making me uncomfortable. And for the first couple of days of having glasses, I would take them off just to have that familiar blurry world around me because I was so used to that world being blurry, it's like the soft world.

Jordan Lloyd Bookey: In her speech, Grace said, "I kind of feel what is going on in the world right now is like our country just got forced to put on a pair of glasses because a lot of things have been happening in these last few years, covid, the racial and social unrest with the responding rise of Black Lives Matter and anti-Asian hate. The great resignation of people leaving their jobs, and of course, book banning. Why? Because people are finally starting to see the world clearly." But for those who can't handle the sudden change, the sudden clarity, they may try to reject these glasses as if they're broken or just the wrong prescription. Because of this, there are those that try to withhold these glasses from a whole generation of kids. They want the soft world, hence the book bans. But this metaphor painting the picture so clearly, I was interested in hearing how Grace believes we should approach this issue and convince people to keep those glasses accessible.

Grace Lin: I guess what I want to definitely relay is the compassion to people who are having a hard time adjusting to seeing things clearly. I also want to relay compassion to ourselves. I think this is a really tricky time where everybody is seeing things a little bit differently and we are all going to make mistakes. I've made plenty of mistakes. What I've personally realized at this moment in this time span and maybe that changes is I try hard to give people the benefit of the doubt. Think of more of it as they meant well. Right? And so even with the book banners, it's really tough, but I try to think of it, look at them with compassion and I try to just think they are just so scared.

Grace Lin: The first step for me is to just try to go into it with compassion because if you go into it with anger, it doesn't help either way. Right? Honestly, that's the kicker. It's like, if you go into it with anger, then you're just going to get yourself eaten up with anger, and like that doesn't help anyone because you're just going to burn out and be angry and be bitter. And that makes you just like them. We don't need more angry, bitter people in this world. That said, you have to know your boundaries. [laughter] Like if you have an angry dog near you, like you don't go and pet it, even though you feel bad for it.

Jordan Lloyd Bookey: This isn't just an ideological issue for Grace. Her own picture book, Dim Sum for Everyone! , about a family's visit to a dim sum restaurant, has been withheld from school libraries in Duval County, Florida, along with dozens of other books included in a collection entitled Essential Voices, originally designed to make libraries more diverse and inclusive.

Grace Lin: My thoughts about moving forward is that one-on-one with people that you think you can reach, that people that you love and care about, those are the people that you very gently and slowly try to change their mind. In my own family, both of my parents are kind of conservative in a way that is kind of upsetting to me. And I realized like my father might be unreachable, but my mother is not, so let's just like keep reaching there, that kind of thing. But I would not bother to try to change the minds of a big angry crowd. A big angry crowd is not going to be changed, let's say at these school board meetings, where they're all like, "Ban books, ban books," you know.

Grace Lin: My approach for those kind of things is more to focus on the process, on due process, and the idea of like, 'Okay, you want to ban this book because you believe that this is a book that teaches CRT. What is your process for reviewing books? You should have a process, right? You should have five people who review the books and they need to be reviewed within three weeks. Most schools already have this kind of thing in place, this is how we review books. But what has been happening is that people, schools are violating their own due process. For example, Dim Sum for Everyone! , they say it's not banned, it's only under review, but it's been under review for over a year which is effectively banned. Right? And so it's pointing out, you are not even following your own process. You have been effectively banning these books by purposely not following your own process. So you need to follow your process if you want to talk about what is American and anti-American. What is anti-American is you not following your own process.


Jordan Lloyd Bookey: As we've discussed throughout this interview, Grace's work is deeply based on the human experience. Through her writing, she has found her own humanity and helped countless other kids see theirs represented. Behind her words and stories is this cathartic release as she came to understand and embrace her identity. There is a deep sense of cultural learning and a marginalized perspective as she offers readers her own glasses. And for the kids growing up similar to her, she offers a mirror. The human element is palpable, and it's incredibly important to her, which is why she has expressed concerns over the new AI art trend.

Grace Lin: Right now, I am in the camp that is anti-AI. [laughter]

Jordan Lloyd Bookey: As the technology rapidly makes its way into our lives, Grace argues that it threatens to take humanity out of art, which is to say the value art holds in the first place. The conversation has been specifically sparked in the children's literature community with the December 2022 release of Alice and Sparkle, a children's picture book created by AI via a tech sector worker. Grace has thought about this a lot and has already begun naming specific issues and making a strong case against AI art. I asked her to share some of those concerns.

Grace Lin: AI art is something that is particularly disturbing to me. What it is is somebody types in a bunch of words about what they want an image of, and AI creates it. One reason why I find this disturbing is because what it is is it shows how we as a society are valuing the end product more than the process, because it shows that these people who create this art, they just want that end product. They just want to show this really cool image. It's like, "See how cool this is, see how cool this is" instead of the actual act of creating. And it's in the act of creating that so much is done. I mean, I said to you, it's in making all of these books that I have found peace with my identity. Creating something is not just for people to view, but it's for the creator. It changes the creator to be, hopefully, a better human. And it's that idea that when you create, it puts you more in touch with your humanity, and that being in touch with your humanity is what you are giving through your artwork. And it goes beyond, like, "Isn't that a cool image?" When we create work through AI, we lose so much of that, at least it seems to me. I know there's a contingent of people who say, "Oh, it's just another tool." I might change my mind in the future, but right now, the way that I understand it, the difference is that even with those tools, there is a process that the artist is doing, a real time-intensive, focused process. That is what gives it its value.

Grace Lin: I read this book, Four Thousand Weeks, and they talked about the fear of missing out. Right? And he said in that book about how it's what you miss out on that gives something its value. The fact that I go to my child's concert, and I'm missing out on this and this and this and this, like, all those things I'm missing out on is really what gives, not the only reason, but gives this value. It shows I'm willing to miss out on all of these other possibilities that life has to offer and go to this concert, because that is what is important to me. And that is what it is with art. The artist is saying, "I am willing to miss out on all these other things that life is offering to create this piece of art, to show the world, for the world." Right? And AI, like I said, as I see it, is so quick and instantaneous that it takes the time out of it. Time is what we have as humans, right? So the fact that we put our time in to art is what makes it more human. It's a very complicated idea, and one that I'm still struggling to articulate well.

Jordan Lloyd Bookey: It also seems like it might be the learning, like the way that it's learning to create the stories is based on other people's time and things. That's how a machine would know.

Grace Lin: In a weird way, it's appropriation. We talk about cultural appropriation like AI is human appropriation. I mean, when we talk about cultural appropriation, the reason why cultural appropriation is so dicey is because so much of culture comes out from pain and suffering. Right? Things that are created from pain and suffering become a part of the culture and become things that our people are proud of. I was listening to a podcast where they say, hip hop music comes from black spirituals, which comes from the slaves in the cotton farms. Right? Plantations. Was there pain that created this beautiful music that has led to kind of hip hop? The reason why we talk about appropriation is because when you don't have a history or an understanding of that pain, it's just like you're just profiting off of somebody else's suffering. Right? And so that is why appropriation is such an important thing to consider when you're making work. And so AI is kind of like appropriating all of human suffering. Right? I mean, and suffering doesn't have to be huge suffering. It doesn't have to be like the plantation slaves. It could be just the fact of the suffering of somebody staying up late to create an image. You know, like AI is taking somebody's suffering of staying up late that night and it's reusing it. So right now I'm in the camp that is anti-AI. [laughter] But you know.

Jordan Lloyd Bookey: Check back in a few years.

Grace Lin: I know, but maybe check back in a few years and I'd be like, it's wonderful.

Jordan Lloyd Bookey: Anyway, speaking of humanity and this idea of passing on culture, not to mention the investment of human time, your time and effort, you have a new book coming out, the AI definitely could not replicate on those fronts. Can you tell me about Chinese Menu? 

Grace Lin: Chinese Menu is the book that I just finished the other day. Talk about suffering. Like I really suffered to finish that book on time. Creating the book was a joy except for the deadline. I want to make that clear. I love the book very much and I loved creating all of it but I had to get it in on time and that was, that was pure suffering. And so that book, Chinese Menu, is what I like to call D'aulaires Greek Myths meets Jennifer 8. Lee's Fortune Cookie Chronicles. Because what it is, it tells all the myths and folktales and histories behind all your favorite Chinese food dishes. So it tells the story of who General Tso actually is, of General Tso's chicken, you know? Or it tells how like it was actually four competing dragons that inspired the creation of chow mein.

Jordan Lloyd Bookey: What gave you the... I love this, and what gave you the idea to do it? 

Grace Lin: When you go to a Chinese restaurant, there's lots of very romantic names on the menu. Right? There'll be like Dragon and Phoenix. Right? And then you get, you're like, "I want Dragon and Phoenix." And then you can get, you can get like chicken and shrimp. Right? You're like, "Oh, chicken and shrimp." That seems very different than Dragon and Phoenix. And like, I was at a restaurant when I was younger and they had one called Buddha Jumped Over the Wall. I was like, "What is this about?" And my father told me the story, "Oh, this is called Buddha Jumped Over the Wall because there's this story where these Buddhist monks smelled this food and it smelled so good that they jumped over the wall to see what it was." And so almost every item on a Chinese menu has a story like that, because the history of Chinese cuisine is just so old. I think it's something that we here in the United States do not recognize or even value.

Grace Lin: In the book, I talked a lot about how, you know, when the immigrants from China came here to the United States and they opened all these restaurants, the one way that they could convince non-Asians to try their food was that they marked their food really, really, really cheap, so that they could get people to come in. And that gave the impression to Americans, and it still gives the impression to Americans now that Chinese food is cheap food. Right? Whereas actually Chinese cuisine is just as complicated as French cuisine, which we highly value. It takes just as much time and just as much skill to create Chinese cuisine. And it has a much longer story and so many folk tales and legends, because it's just been around for like longer than many European cuisines. And I really just wanted to create this book because so many people do eat Chinese food so that they can value what they're eating, and hopefully enjoy what they're eating even more. Like now when we eat Chinese food, when I... I've read the book to my daughter, and she's like, "Oh, this is the food that they ate when all the monks went and got different alms, right?" And I was like, yeah. So she's like... And it's kind of fun because it makes you enjoy your food more. It slows you down even because you're thinking about the story that, of what created it.

Jordan Lloyd Bookey: Earlier in our conversation, Grace spoke about the wonderful feeling of being pulled into another world through books. That's something she wants us all to feel through her reading challenge, new faces, familiar places. But she has a bit of a fun spin on it.

Grace Lin: What I really like is when I read a series of books that aren't really a series. One of my favorite books, when I was younger, was Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild. And then she has all these other shoe books, it's like Theater Shoes. And what I loved was when I read Theater Shoes that the characters of Ballet Shoes were in their pen pals. So it was the same world, even though it wasn't following the same characters and I realized that's what I love. I love when it's like same world, different characters, because all of a sudden the world feels so much more, it feels really real. A lot of authors do it. And I like, it's actually what I did with Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, Starry River of the Sky, and When the Sea Turns Silver, it's like all the same world. And so there's lots of people who do... Lots of authors who do that. Another author who really does that that I love is Kate Milford. She has a book called The Greenglass House. And then she has another book called Bluecrowne and then the one that I'm reading right now, Raconteur's Commonplace Book, and you could see how they're all connected and it just gives me such a thrill. So my reading challenge is same world, different characters, and to read like two or three books in the same world, but have different characters and just for fun, see if you can find the threads between them.

Jordan Lloyd Bookey: And this episode's Beanstack featured librarian is Jenny Lee Ryan, the program coordinator for Farmington Public Library in New Mexico, and also a former radio show host. She gave us some of her best tips for getting readers engaged in their programming.

Jenny Lee Ryan: One of the things I picked up from my days in radio is reminding the staff to be the patron. Just changing the messaging on our summer reading program used to be read five books and get a shirt. And we'd never mention the grand prize. Or we'd just kind of say, oh yeah, and you could win a grand prize. And from radio, I learned that's burying the lead. You gotta focus on that. That's what's gonna get the patrons' attention. And then using the word you when you're talking to the patrons. You could win this, not someone's gonna win this. You should read this book. That gets people picturing themselves actually reading the book or winning the prize or so it helps us get the patron to do what we need them to do. And in this area, we really need them to read books.

Jordan Lloyd Bookey: This has been the reading culture and you've been listening to our conversation with Grace Lin, again, I'm your host, Jordan Lloyd Bookey. And currently, I'm reading A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki and Odd One Out by Nic Stone. If you enjoyed today's show, please show some love and rate, subscribe and share the reading culture among your friends and networks. To learn more about how you can help grow your community's reading culture or to get Grace's Reading Challenge, you can check out all of our resources at This episode was produced by Jackie Lamport and Lower Street Media and script edited by Josiah Lamberto Egan. We'll be back in two weeks with another episode. Thanks for joining and keep reading.

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