Edwidge Danticat: Beating the Darkness

July 12, 2016

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In this episode, we’re joined by Edwidge Danticat, whose work recounts the stories of Haitians and Haitian-Americans. Her haunting YA novel, Untwine, tells the story of an unbreakable bond between twin sisters of Haitian descent. 

Guest:

  • Edwidge Danticat is the author of several award-winning works, including Breath, Eyes, Memory, an Oprah’s Book Club pick; Krik? Krak!, a National Book Award nominee; The Farming of Bones, an American Book Award Winner, and Untwine (Scholastic, 2015). Edwidge, who was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2009, lives in Miami, Florida, with her family. You can learn more about her work at www.EdwidgeDanticat.com.

Additional Resources:

  • Learn more about Untwine and read an excerpt here.
  • Read about Edwidge's story of Haiti's heroic queen Anacaona here.

Special thanks:

  • Music composed by Lucas Elliot Eberl
  • Sound mix and editing by Daniel Jordan
  • Produced by Megan Kaesshaefer

Photo credit: Mark Dellas, 2015

Drag Teen with Jeffery Self

June 24, 2016

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June is Pride Month, so we’re dragging it up with Jeffery Self! Jeffery is the author of Drag Teen, his debut YA novel. The book follows a high school senior (and aspiring drag queen) on a quest to go to college. Jeffery is joined by his editor, acclaimed YA novelist David Levithan.

Note: This episode was recorded before the tragic shootings in Orlando. Our hearts are with the victims, families, and friends of this devastating event.

Guests:

  • Jeffery Self is a writer and an actor who has appeared in Desperate Housewives90210, and 30 Rock. He has also starred in his own show, Jeffery & Cole Casserole. Jeffery currently appears as the host of the MTV talk show, Scream After Dark. The author of two books for adults, he hosts a weekly podcast called This Is Really Important on iTunes. In a starred review, Booklist praised Drag Teen, Jeffery’s first novel for young adults, saying, “Drag queens are virtually nonexistent in YA fiction, and Self does an excellent job introducing that world, as well as conveying the happiness that performing brings JT…. In the end, it may not be Prince Charming who is JT’s prize, but rather the discovery of his true self.” Follow Jeffery on Twitter at @JefferySelf.
  • David Levithan is an editorial director and publisher at Scholastic, as well as the author of several YA novels, including Boy Meets BoyEvery Day, and (with Nina LaCour) You Know Me Well. Follow David on Twitter at @loversdiction.

Additional resources:

  • Learn more about Drag Teen here, and read an excerpt of Drag Teen here!
  • Celebrate LGBT culture with our round-up of books featuring lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender characters.

Special thanks:

  • Music composed by Lucas Elliot Eberl
  • Sound mix and editing by Daniel Jordan
  • Produced by Megan Kaesshaefer

We Have Diverse Books

June 14, 2016

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In this episode, Arthur A. Levine, Vice President and Publisher of Arthur A. Levine Books, joins us to talk about the authors, topics, and books that he has championed throughout his career. Authors Francisco Stork (Marcelo in the Real World, The Memory of Light) and Mike Jung (Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities, Unidentified Suburban Object) will also join us to talk about their new work. 

Guests: 

  • Arthur A. Levine is Vice President and Publisher of Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc. Throughout his career, Levine has edited and championed an exceptional and diverse group of writers and artists, including Emma Donoghue, J.K. Rowling, Lisa Yee, Jaclyn Moriarty, Shaun Tan, Sundee Frazier, and Dan Santat. The imprint publishes Varian Johnson, Francisco Stork, Eric Gansworth, Sarwat Chadda, and many others. Arthur is also a leading publisher of books-in-translation, introducing American children to such writers as Daniella Carmi (Israel), Josef Holub and Wolfgang Herrndorf (Germany), Luis Sepulveda (Chile), Laura Gallego Garcia (Spain), Silvana Gandolfi (Italy), Nahoko Uehashi and Komako Sakai (Japan), Sylvie Weil (France), Guus Kuijer, Karlijn Stoffels, and Marcel Prins (The Netherlands), and Anne Provoost (Belgium). Arthur A. Levine Books is also recognized for having brought out the first contemporary YA novel translated from the Russian, Playing a Part, an LGBT coming-of age-story by Daria Wilke. Follow @AALBooks on Twitter.
  • Francisco X. Stork is the author of the acclaimed Marcelo in the Real World which received five starred reviews and won the Schneider Family Book Award for Teens; The Last Summer of the Death Warriors, which was named a New York Times Editors’ Choice selection; and Irises. His most recent young adult novel, The Memory of Light, was recently published and has already received four starred reviews. Francisco was born in Monterrey, Mexico, spent his teenage years in El Paso, Texas, and now lives outside Boston, Massachusetts, with his family.
  • Mike Jung is the author of Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities and Unidentified Suburban Object. He has contributed to the anthologies Dear Teen Me, Break These Rules, and 59 Reasons to Write. Mike is a library professional by day, a writer by night, and a semi-competent ukulele player during all the times in between. He is proud to be a founding member of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks team. Mike lives in Oakland, California, with his wife and two young children. Find Mike at www.mikejung.com.

Additional resources:

Special thanks:

  • Music composed by Lucas Elliot Eberl
  • Sound mix and editing by Daniel Jordan
  • Produced by Megan Kaesshaefer

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

June 2, 2016

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In this episode, we're talking about the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, the nation’s longest-running and most prestigious recognition program for creative teens in grades 7–12. Created in 1923 by Scholastic founder Maurice R. "Robbie" Robinson, the program has a noteworthy roster of past winners, including Andy Warhol, Sylvia Plath, Truman Capote, Richard Avedon, and Joyce Carol Oates, among many others. We sat down with the Executive Director of the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, Virginia McEnerney, Scholastic CEO Dick Robinson, and two 2016 Gold Medal Portfolio Recipients, Razan Elbaba and Alex Zhang. 

Guests:

  • Executive Director of the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, Virginia McEnerney
  • Scholastic CEO Dick Robinson
  • Razan Elbaba, 2016 Gold Medal Portfolio Recipient, Photography
  • Alex Zhang, 2016 Gold Medal Portfolio Recipient, Poetry

Additional Resources:

Special thanks:

  • Music composed by Lucas Elliot Eberl
  • Sound mix and editing by Daniel Jordan
  • Produced by Megan Kaesshaefer

 

Making the Summer Leap

May 16, 2016

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In this episode, literacy expert Pam Allyn joins us to talk about summer learning and how we can turn the dreaded “summer slide”—the learning loss children experience when they’re out of school—into the “summer leap,” a time filled with opportunity and joy around reading. Kelli Cedo, Principal of Forrest Elementary in Virginia, and Bruce Butler, Principal of Marieville Elementary School in Rhode Island, also join us to talk about how their schools embrace year-round learning.

Guests:

  • Literacy expert Pam Allyn is the Founding Director of LitWorld and the co-author of Every Child a Super Reader: 7 Strengths to Open a World of Possible (Scholastic, 2015). Follow her on Twitter at @pamallyn and @litworldsays.
  • Dr. Kelli Cedo is the principal of Forrest Elementary School in Hampton, Virginia. She has served as Title I Coordinator, Division Contact for School Improvement, Literacy Coach, Academic Coordinator, and Family Engagement Liaison in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Kelli is the co-creator of the Virginia PLC Consortium around Professional Learning.
  • Bruce Butler is the principal of Marieville Elementary School in Marieville, Rhode Island. Marieville Elementary won a “best in state” award in the 2015 Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge. 

Additional resources:

Special thanks:

  • Music composed by Lucas Elliot Eberl
  • Sound mix and editing by Daniel Jordan
  • Produced by Megan Kaesshaefer

Librarians: Making Hearts Large Through Story

April 29, 2016

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We’re celebrating School Library Month with three of the most dedicated librarians we know. John Schumacher (the famous “Mr. Schu”) and Scholastic librarian Deimosa Webber-Bey talk with us about why they became librarians, the crucial task of finding the right book for a child, and why—as John describes it—the library is “the heart and soul of a school." Kristina Holzweiss, the 2015 School Library Journal School Librarian of the Year, also joins us to share her thoughts on why libraries matter.

Guests:

  • John Schumacher (aka Mr. Schu) is a blogger, a part-time lecturer at Rutgers University, and the Ambassador of School Libraries for Scholastic Book Fairs. Before joining Scholastic, he was a teacher-librarian at Brook Forest Elementary School in Oak Brook, Illinois. In 2011, Library Journal named John "The Xtreme Librarian” for the "gears and stunts" he uses to get kids reading. Teacher Magazine named him a “Cool Teacher” in 2014 for redefining what it means to be a teacher-librarian. John served on the 2014 Newbery Committee. You can find him blogging at www.MrSchuReads.com or tweeting @MrSchuReads
  • Deimosa Webber-Bey is the Library Manager at Scholastic and responsible for the corporate archive, readers advisory, cataloging, and the employee book club. A Dartmouth alum and native of New York City, she was in Cohort 5 of the NYC Teaching Fellows, and taught for several years in public schools in Queens, Brooklyn, Albuquerque, and the Pueblo of Jemez. Deimosa also worked as the Teen Librarian at the Rio Rancho Public Library. She has published in YALS ("Noise @ Your Library", 2008) and The Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy ("Runaway Quilt Project", 2014). The oldest of six children and a life-long vegetarian, she enjoys reading, writing, hip hop, comics, and quilting. Follow Deimosa on the Scholastic On Our Minds blog and on Twitter (@dataquilter).
  • Kristina Holzweiss is a librarian at Bay Shore Middle School (BSMS) in Long Island, New York. She was named School Library Journal’s 2015 School Librarian of the Year. The award “honors a K–12 library professional for outstanding achievement and the exemplary use of 21st-century tools and services to engage children and teens toward fostering multiple literacies.” While she did not particularly enjoy attending middle school, Kristina loves being a middle school librarian. Follow her on Twitter @lieberrian

Additional resources: 

Cecil’s Pride: The Life of a Lion King

April 22, 2016

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Craig Hatkoff and his daughter Isabella join us to talk about Cecil’s Pride: The True Story of a Lion King, their stunning new picture book. Craig and Isabella give us a behind-the-scenes look at the famed lion’s life and death, and explain how their family’s passion for animals has resulted in a series of children’s books about resilience and survival. 

Guests:

  • Craig Hatkoff. A prolific children’s book author, Craig is a cofounder of the Tribeca Film Festival and founder and Chairman of Turtle Pond Publications, a private entertainment and media company in New York City. He is also on the Board of Directors of WildlifeDirect, New York University’s Child Study Center, the Sesame Workshop, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Borough of Manhattan Community College Foundation. Craig Hatkoff, Juliana Hatkoff, and Isabella Hatkoff have authored Owen & Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable FriendshipLooking for Miza and Winter’s Tail, among many other titles. 
  • Isabella Hatkoff. An animal lover and a volunteer for several animal welfare organizations, Isabella is a high school student in New York City. She has contributed illustrations to Owen & Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship and Cecil’s Pride: The True Story of a Lion King, among other titles. 

Additional resources:

Special thanks:

  • Music composed by Lucas Elliot Eberl
  • Sound mix and editing by Daniel Jordan
  • Produced by Megan Kaesshaefer

Same But Different: Holly Robinson Peete

April 12, 2016

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Actor, author, philanthropist, and rockstar mom Holly Robinson Peete joins us to talk about her new book, Same But Different: Teen Life on the Autism Express, which she co-wrote with her twins, RJ and Ryan ElizabethThe book explores the funny, painful, and unexpected sides of teen autism. 

Guest:

  • Holly Robinson Peete (@hollyrpeete) has devoted her life and career to autism awareness. Since 2000, when Holly’s son RJ was diagnosed with autism, she has worked tirelessly to help families everywhere who are raising children with autism. Peete is the wife of former NFL quarterback Rodney Peete and the working mother of four children. She and her husband co-founded the HollyRod Foundation, which provides support and resources for families living with autism and Parkinson’s disease. Her picture book, My Brother Charlie, co-written with her daughter, Ryan Elizabeth, and illustrated by Shane Evans, received an NAACP Image Award.

Additional Resources:

Special thanks:

  • Music composed by Lucas Elliot Eberl
  • Sound mix and editing by Daniel Jordan
  • Produced by Megan Kaesshaefer

Photo credit: Stephanie Willis

Phyllis Hunter: Reading Is a Civil Right

April 1, 2016

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Literacy expert Phyllis C. Hunter joins us to talk about what inspires her (Jennifer Hudson, passionate teachers, and the musical Hamilton), and to share advice on how to help children become avid readers.

Guests:

  • Phyllis C. Hunter is an internationally renowned and beloved literacy expert who has served as an adviser to both the President of the United States and the Secretary of Education. She has worked as a district reading manager, principal, and speech and language therapist. In 2009, Hunter was named the Marcus Garvey Educator of the Year by the National Alliance of Black Educators and received the Scholastic Education Heroes Award for her contributions to the field of children’s literacy. In addition to having created the Phyllis C. Hunter Classroom Libraries, Hunter is the author of It’s Not Complicated! What I Know For Sure About Helping Our Students of Color Become Successful Readers. 

Additional Resources:

  • Do you have questions on how to reach disengaged students? Or, how to face the challenges of the achievement gap? Ask Phyllis anything! 
  • Learn more about the Phyllis C. Hunter Classroom Libraries here.

Special thanks:

  • Music composed by Lucas Elliot Eberl
  • Sound mix and editing by Daniel Jordan
  • Produced by Megan Kaesshaefer

Kate Beaton: A Princess, a Pony, and Punchlines

March 18, 2016

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Just in time for Women’s History Month, Kate Beaton joins us to talk about her bestselling picture book, The Princess and the Pony, writing female characters, and her work on the wildly popular Hark! A Vagrant comic strip. Editors Cheryl Klein and Emily Clement also join us to talk about how they first discovered Kate’s work and to share some of their favorite female characters in literature.

Guests: 

  • Kate Beaton (Hark! A VagrantStep Aside, Pops, The Princess and the Pony, King Baby)
  • Cheryl Klein: Executive Editor, Arthur A. Levine Books
  • Emily Clement: Editor, Arthur A. Levine Books

Special thanks:

  • Music composed by Lucas Elliot Eberl
  • Sound mixing and editing by Daniel Jordan
  • Produced by Megan Kaesshaefer

Photo credit: Notker Mahr

Sonia Manzano: Shaping a Life Story

March 7, 2016

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Author and actress Sonia Manzano, along with editor Andrea Davis Pinkney, discuss the making of Sonia's coming-of-age memoir, Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx. Sonia joined the cast of the acclaimed television series Sesame Street in 1971, where she defined the role of "Maria" and went on to write for the show, retiring in 2015 after 44 years. Sonia has won 15 Emmy Awards for her television writing and is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Arts and Sciences.

 

Guests:

  • Sonia Manzano, actress (Sesame Street) and writer (The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano, Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx)
  • Andrea Davis Pinkney, VP and Executive Editor, Scholastic Trade Publishing

Special thanks:

  • Music composed by Lucas Elliot Eberl
  • Sound mixing and editing by Daniel Jordan
  • Produced by Megan Kaesshaefer

Kids on the Campaign Trail

February 26, 2016

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The Scholastic News Kids Press Corps is the country’s oldest and largest student reporting program. This year, our team of young journalists is out on the campaign trail, meeting candidates and covering caucuses, primaries, and debates. In this episode, we talk with two Kid Reporters about their experiences reporting on the election so far. We also hear from Classroom Magazines editorial director Steph Smith about how Scholastic covers the race for the White House for kids, and from middle school teacher Josh Torpey about how he gets students in his Humanities class thinking deeply about the election. 

Guests:

  • Steph Smith, Editorial Director, Classroom Magazines 
  • Scholastic Kid Reporters Bobby Sena and Lilian Jochmann
  • 7th grade Humanities Teacher Josh Torpey (The Institute for Collaborative Education, New York)

Additional Resources:

Special thanks:

  • Music composed by Lucas Elliot Eberl
  • Sound mix and editing by Daniel Jordan
  • Produced by Megan Kaesshaefer

Sharon Robinson: Breaking Barriers

February 17, 2016

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Sharon Robinson, daughter of baseball great Jackie Robinson, joins us to discuss her new book, The Hero Two Doors Down: A Story of Friendship Between a Boy and a Baseball Legend. Plus, we hear from filmmaker Ken Burns about his new documentary, Jackie Robinson, coming this April.

Guests:

  • Sharon Robinson
  • Ken Burns

Special thanks:

  • Music composed by Lucas Elliot Eberl
  • Sound mix and editing by Daniel Jordan
  • Produced by Megan Kaesshaefer

Additional resources:

  • The Breaking Barriers Essay Contest is a chance for diverse students in grade 4–8 to share their personal stories and show how they use Jackie Robinson's values to face their own barriers. Deadline is March 14, 2016.

The Power of Picture Books

February 8, 2016

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Scholastic editor Liza Baker joins us to talk about Scholastic's new awareness campaign, “The Story Starts Here,” which emphasizes the importance of reading to children from day one. Plus, Stephen Savage (Where’s Walrus and Penguin?) joins us to discuss his work as an award-winning picture book author and illustrator.

Guests:

  • Liza Baker, VP/Executive Editorial Director for Cartwheel and Orchard Books at Scholastic
  • Stephen Savage, author/illustrator 

Special thanks:

  • Music composed by Lucas Elliot Eberl
  • Sound mix and editing by Daniel Jordan
  • Produced by Megan Kaesshaefer

Book Trends for 2016

January 25, 2016

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What are the big trends in children’s literature for 2016? Look out for superheroes, graphic novels, diverse characters and mythology! Experts David Allender and Preeti Chibberr share their projections for the coming year.

Guests:

  • David Allender: Editorial Director, Scholastic Reading Club
  • Preeti Chhibber, Senior Editorial Manager, Scholastic Reading Club

Special thanks:

  • Music composed by Lucas Elliot Eberl
  • Sound mix and editing by Daniel Jordan
  • Produced by Megan Kaesshaefer

Every Child a Super Reader

January 6, 2016

Listen:

Literacy experts Pam Allyn and Ernest Morrell join us to talk about their new book, Every Child A Super Reader. The book helps parents and educators develop seven key strengths in young learners, transforming them into “Super Readers”—avid, passionate and critical. Learn more about Every Child a Super Reader at scholastic.com/superreader.

Guests:

  • Pam Allyn: Literacy expert, author, and Founding Director of LitWorld
  • Ernest Morrell: Macy Professor of English Education and Director, Institute for Urban and Minority Education, Columbia Teachers College; Past President of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)

Special thanks:

  • Music composed by Lucas Elliot Eberl
  • Sound mix and editing by Daniel Jordan
  • Produced by Megan Kaesshaefer

Kids’ Books Holiday Hotline

December 17, 2015

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Giving the gift of reading isn’t always easy, especially when you have a reluctant reader on your holiday shopping list. Experts David Allender and Preeti Chhibber answer parents’ questions about their trickiest book-buying challenges. Plus, we interview Scholastic employees about what books they’re buying this holiday season and why. 

Guests:

  • David Allender: Editorial Director, Scholastic Reading Club
  • Preeti Chhibber, Senior Editorial Manager, Scholastic Reading Club

Special thanks:

  • Music composed by Lucas Elliot Eberl
  • Sound mix and editing by Daniel Jordan
  • Produced by Megan Kaesshaefer

The Magic of Harry Potter

December 14, 2015

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What makes the Harry Potter series so special? How did it become the most popular in all of children’s literature? Cheryl Klein talks about her work as continuity editor on the series and shares harrowing stories about keeping the manuscript secret. Literacy expert Pam Allyn, Founding Director of LitWorld, weighs in on how Hogwarts and the lessons Harry Potter teaches us can be valuable for educators.

Guests:

  • Cheryl Klein: Executive Editor, Arthur A. Levine Books
  • Pam Allyn: Literacy expert, author, and Founding Director of LitWorld

Special thanks:

  • Music composed by Lucas Elliot Eberl
  • Sound mix and editing by Daniel Jordan
  • Produced by Megan Kaesshaefer

The Scholastic Reads Podcast