20 Inspiring Author Interviews From The Scholastic Reads Podcast

Mackenzie Cutruzzula  //  Sep 18, 2020

20 Inspiring Author Interviews From The Scholastic Reads Podcast

The Scholastic Reads podcast celebrates the joy and power of reading. We rounded up some inspiring interviews with authors from all reading levels below!

1. Celebrating Pride Month With Debut Novelist Leah Johnson

Change is in the air, and we're delighted to bring a fresh new voice to the podcast. Debut author Leah Johnson is here to talk about You Should See Me in a Crown, her joyful, hilarious young adult novel about the irrepressible Liz Lighty.

As a queer, Black teen in a prom-obsessed Midwestern town, Liz thinks that it’s impossible to fit in. But when she meets the new girl at school—who also is her competition for prom queen—everything changes.

In this episode, Leah talks with host Suzanne McCabe about growing up in Indiana, becoming a fiction writer, and “giving queer folks the happy ending they deserve.”

  • Learn more about Leah and You Should See Me In A Crown, here.

2. Furious Thing: YA Author Jenny Downham on the Power of Gaslighting

In her latest novel, Furious Thing, Jenny Downham discusses the insidious nature of gaslighting, the power of one 15-year-old girl’s anger, and the risk of speaking up about those feelings. Downham is also the author of UnbecomingYou Against Me, and Before I Die, which was made into a 2012 movie, Now Is Good, starring Dakota Fanning.

3. Expanding an Existing World

Acclaimed author Maggie Stiefvater describes Call Down the Hawk, the first book in a brand-new trilogy, as a “big, strange, weird novel” full of all of the things she likes in both novels and life. This includes art, magic, music, and mythology.

Call Down the Hawk follows Ronan Lynch, a character who can take things out of his dreams and bring them into real life, and Jordan Hennessy, an artist, a thief, and maybe something else.

If you’re a fan of young-adult literature, you’re probably familiar with Maggie’s work. She is the New York Times best-selling author of The Raven Cycle, The Shiver Trilogy, and The Scorpio Races.

On this episode, we'll talk with her and award-winning author Scott Westerfeld about what it’s like to expand a fictional universe for eager fans. Scott is the author of The Uglies Series, The Leviathan Trilogy, and Impostors, among many other titles.

4. Alyssa Milano on Hope and Middle School

You may remember Alyssa from her hilarious role on Who’s the Boss? In addition to being an actress, Alyssa is also an activist, and now a children’s book author. She recently wrote Hope: Project Middle School. On this episode, she joins us to discuss her new novel and the power of hope. We’re also joined by Scholastic Kid Reporter Alula Alderson who recently interviewed Alyssa on her book tour in Los Angeles. Alula talks about what Hope: Project Middle School means to her as a middle-school student. 

  • Learn more about Hope: Project Middle School by Alyssa Milano and Debbie Rigaud, illustrated by Eric S. Keyes, here.
  • Learn more about Scholastic Kids Press, here.

5. In Their Own Words: Sharon Robinson and Da Chen

 This week, we’re talking about the power of telling your own story. You’ll hear from two incredible authors. First is Sharon Robinson, the daughter of baseball legend Jackie Robinson. Sharon is the author of several works of fiction and nonfiction, including many widely praised nonfiction books about her father’s life. This year, she’s telling her OWN story in Child of the Dream — a memoir about one of the most important years in the Civil Rights Movement, 1963, when Sharon was just 13. 

Later, we talk with Da Chen. Da is a New York TImes bestselling author who joins us to talk about his memoir for young readers, Girl Under a Red Moon. The deeply moving story focuses on Da’s older sister Sisi and their childhood growing up together during the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

6. It Takes Guts: Raina Telgemeier and Eli Lebowitz

It takes guts to face your fears. Bestselling creator Raina Telgemeier is encouraging young readers to do just that with her latest graphic novel memoir, Guts, which shares the stories of Raina's own experiences with anxiety as a child.

This week, Raina joins us in the studio to talk about Guts. We also talk with Dr. Eli Lebowitz, who studies and treats childhood and adolescent anxiety and is Director of the Program for Anxiety Disorders at the Yale Child Study Center.

7. Dav Pilkey talks Dog Man and "Do Good"

This week, we're talking with Dav Pilkey, creator of the worldwide bestselling Dog Man series! Dav discusses his latest book, Dog Man: For Whom the Ball Rolls, and his Dog Man "Do Good" tour that's taking him around the world this fall. Dav shares stories from his own childhood growing up with ADHD and dyslexia and talks about the importance of creativity, why reading is a superpower, and the importance of not just being good, but doing good.

Plus, you'll also hear from young readers themselves who sent us messages describing why they love Dog Man!

8. Read with Pride

It's Pride Month! We love to celebrate our LGBTQIA authors all year long, but we wanted to take the opportunity now to shine a spotlight on what it means to create and share stories about those who are marginalized and underrepresented.

Today, you’ll hear from Mason Deaver, Kacen Callender, and Bill Konigsberg. Each will introduce their latest novels, talk about their creative process, and discuss what it means to write books that are giving some young readers the chance to see themselves truly represented in the pages of a book.

9. How to Share Your Story: Ally Carter and Raina Telgemeier

Aspiring writers and illustrators, this episode is for you! Maybe you keep a running list on your Notes app of book ideas, possible titles, and first lines. Maybe you have a sketchbook in the bottom of your drawer. But where do you go from there? Ally Carter and Raina Telgemeier are here with answers. They’ll talk about their new books, Dear Ally, How Do I Write A Book? and Share Your Smile, which aim to help creators transfer their ideas to the page.

10. Spreading Hope with Keith Calabrese

This week, we're talking with author Keith Calabrese about his middle grade debut. His new book, A Drop of Hope, is set in a small Midwestern town, where times are tough, jobs are scarce, and miracles are in short supply.

Keith joins us today to talk about his path to becoming an author and what he hopes his 8- to 12-year-old readers will take away from this heartwarming story about Ernest, Ryan, and Lizzie, and their efforts to help their divided town choose empathy and kindness over anger and fear. 

11. Aida Salazar on Agency in Adolescence

We're kicking off Women's History Month with debut novelist Aida Salazar and her stunning book for 8- to 12-year-olds, The Moon Within.

The novel is a modern day Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret set in Oakland, California, and steeped in the culture and traditions of the Mexica, indigenous people of Mexico.

The story introduces us to Celi Rivera. Like every 11-year-old, she has questions. Questions about her changing body, her first crush, and her best friend’s exploration of gender fluidity. But most of all, she has questions about her mother’s insistence that she have a moon ceremony when her first period arrives — an ancestral Mexica ritual that Mima and their community have reclaimed and that Celi does not want to participate in.

Today, Aida and her editor, Nick Thomas, join us to discuss why this lyrical coming-of-age own-voices story is a must-read for everyone.

12. Aaron Blabey on Bad Guys and Good Friends

Bestselling author Aaron Blabey stopped by our New York offices earlier this year while on his book tour The Bad Guys: Mission to America, and we're so excited to share our conversation with you. Aaron talks about his latest Bad Guys book, The Bad Guys in Superbad, the Bad Guys movie that's currently in development with DreamWorks, and shares some insight into his creative process. He also treats us to not one, but two amazing read-alouds!

13. Becoming an Ally: A Conversation with Alex Gino

This week, we're talking with Alex Gino about what it means to be an ally. 

Alex is the author of the award-winning book George, about a transgender girl who wants the world to see her the way she sees herself. We talk with them about the importance of that message, as well as the messages readers will find in their latest book, You Don't Know Everything, Jilly P!, about a girl who learns to be an ally, a sister, and a friend, understanding that life works in different ways for different people.

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14. Hey, Kiddo: A Conversation about Family, Addiction, and Art

If you're planning to share this episode with young listeners, please note that it includes some mature themes, including drug use.

This week, we're talking with Jarrett J. Krosoczka about his graphic novel memoir for young adults, Hey, Kiddo

The memoir, which has been longlisted for the National Book Award, follows Jarrett's childhood: His mother was a heroin addict who was in and out of rehab, so he was raised by his grandparents — loud, opinionated, but loving people who struggled with their own demons. In the midst of it all, he found art. 

We also hear from Kim Tranell, executive editor, Scholastic Classroom Magazines, about ways she has covered topics of addiction—specifically, the opioid crisis—in Choices magazine for teen readers.

15. Yes, David!: A Conversation with David Shannon

David Shannon is the creator of more than 30 picture books including A Bad Case of Stripes and the beloved David books: No, David!David Gets in TroubleDavid Goes to School, and It's Christmas, David. This week, he joins us in conversation about his latest book, Grow Up, David! (available in both English and Spanish)

Coming 20 years after the first publication of the Caldecott Honor book No, David!, Grow Up, David! introduces David's big brother and follows our trouble-making hero from one antic to the next in an effort to win his brother's approval.

David talks about just how autobiographical the David books are, why No, David! was such a departure for him, and some of his favorite moments from the last 20 years.

16. Jeff Smith: The Bone Cousins' First Picture Book

Jeff Smith broke ground with the graphic novelization of his long-running comic, BONENow, he's introducing the beloved cousins from Boneville to a younger audience with his first picture book, Smiley's Dream Book.

This week, we sit down with Jeff to talk about writing a picture book, the cartoonists who inspire him, and why he'll never say you shouldn't doodle on your math homework.

17. Cornelia Funke returns to Dragon Rider

This week, we’re talking with award-winning author Cornelia Funke, author of beloved books like the Inkheart series, The Thief Lord, and Dragon Rider. After many years, Cornelia is returning to the Dragon Rider world with the long-anticipated sequel, The Griffin’s Feather, out July 31.

We’re also joined in the studio by Cornelia’s editor, Barry Cunningham. Barry is the founder and publisher of Chicken House, and the acquiring editor of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in the UK. He talks about what he looks for in a manuscript, and the advice he gives aspiring writers.

18. Varian Johnson and The Parker Inheritance

This week, we're talking with Varian Johnson, author of the new middle grade book The Parker Inheritance.

Varian talks about his inspiration for the book, the research it took to dig back into his own hometown’s past, and about social justice — how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go.

19. Martin Rising

April 4, 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and to honor his life and legacy, we're sitting down with Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney, the author and illustrator behind Martin Rising: Requiem for a King Andrea and Brian share how they were inspired to create the book, which is a combination of poetry and colorful artwork; how they work together as husband and wife creators; how their own lives were impacted by King's work; and the message of hope and empowerment they hope their young readers take from the book.

20. Sayantani DasGupta and The Serpent's Secret

This week, we're talking with Sayantani DasGupta, the author of the forthcoming middle grade fantasy novel The Serpent's Secret, in which sixth grader Kiranmala discovers she's a princess...and an interdemensional demon slayer! Sayantani talks with her 13-year-old daughter, Sunaya, who is a Scholastic News Kids Press Corps reporter, and tells us about her childhood ask a daughter of immigrants, as well as her love of storytelling, folktales, science, and Madeleine L'Engle. 

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