Last November I shared a diversity audit of the All The Wonders podcast (now called The Children's Book Podcast). It the post (which you can read here) I shared my data tables on how ethnic diversity is currently and historically represented on the podcast. I started the audit in November of 2016 and analyzed the show's archive in its entirety. I then used the data (and continue to use the data I collect) to inform how I'm booking the show.
My goal with The Children's Book Podcast is to support and promote outstanding books by diverse voices, including authors and illustrators of color, indigenous and First Nations authors and illustrators, LGBTQ authors and author allies, historically marginalized voices, and all of those who help bring these books to publication. I recognize that, like many, I am on a journey. The choices that I make today for the podcast reflect a continued interest in supporting diverse and underrepresented voices as well as an understanding of ownership in my obligation to utilize this platform responsibly with regards to these aforementioned values. I do so, in great part, through the support of listeners like you, who promote episodes, champion authors and illustrators, and read books by diverse authors and illustrators. I am grateful to have such a strong and supportive listenership and I continue to keep you all in mind each step of this journey.
This month I'm posting to my social media channels daily graphs, charts, and statistics of the podcast using the hashtag #knowyourpodcast. I've undertaken this project for two primary reasons. The first is part of my ongoing journey to better understand my biases and to use what I learned to make more informed and ethically responsible decisions with regards to how I use this platform that is the podcast. And the second is so that I can be totally transparent with you, my listeners.
I've recently launched a Patreon page as a means of giving listeners an outlet where you can choose, if you'd like, to directly back the podcast. I'll be promoting it in May and will talk more about the how's and why's then. You can read more about it at https://www.patreon.com/matthewcwinner. For now though I want to lay all my cards out on the table. I'm starting with basic statistics, but I will share data on gender and ethnic diversity representation as we move later into the month. Follow along on social media, or check back here for weekly updates.
So why not kick things off with some basic numbers. I've published 432 episodes as of publishing this post. Here's how things break down.
The name "Let's Get Busy" actually stemmed from The Busy Librarian, my since abandoned blog. I stopped publishing on the blog when we launched All The Wonders. Midway through the site's first year, co-founder Blake Hamilton and I discussed a name change to better align this our flagship podcast, to the site. And so the name was changed to "All The Wonders: The Children's Book Podcast". Sadly, All The Wonders closed its doors at the end of 2017 and so it became necessary to rebrand. I chose to hold on to "The Children's Book Podcast" from the previous name because I felt it to be the most direct and obvious choice.
Yeah... that's a whole bunch of guests. At the end of 2014 and through 2017 I was publishing 2 episodes per week pretty steadily. I am currently publishing episodes weekly on Tuesdays with a bonus episode each month.
Did you know that I started the podcast, in part, because I felt like teachers and librarians were at a disadvantage when it came to inviting and author or illustrator for a school visit. How can a school budget $1000+ for a school visit based on the person's works alone. How can you make that kind of a decision without first knowing more about the person him- or herself? And so I started interviewing authors and illustrators with that in mind. When I first found out that so many illustrators in particular were listening, it totally blew my mind.
Look... I listen to a ton of podcasts as well and the only one I listen to more than once a week is Up First from NPR. That's part of the reason why I pulled back to publishing one episode per week. II want to give listeners a better chance to hear every voice and not feel like they need to pick and choose.
I was reminded several times in the survey comments by those that answered "No" that, while they haven't purchased a book based on listening to an episode, they frequently check out the books from their local library. I love that and it always brings me back to the one book I purchase to be read by our 500+ students.
Seriously. Jason? If you're reading this? I would LOVE to have you on the show. I would do cartwheels to have you on the show. I've listened to the audiobooks for each of your books and would record your next audiobook for you just to have you on the show. But until then... know that I love your work.
This pretty much sums up my podcast listening habits as well. By the way, did you know that psychology has a term for this? It's called pairing, and it occurs when you link the positive activity (ie. listening to a podcast) exclusively to an unpleasant task (washing dishes). The result is that you actually grow to look forward to the unpleasant task because you know you'll be "rewarded" with the positive activity. Not that I'm suggesting that podcasts are only listened to on account of pairing, but I certainly know effective a good podcast is on my housework productivity.
This penultimate slide in the set is, in part, my first attempt at unpacking some of my biases. I've had a number of repeat guests on the podcast, all with new books I really, really like. But as soon as I started identifying the names of those guests, I realized a pattern immediately. These authors and illustrators make beautiful books and I would consider many of them my friend, but I need to make sure that I keep those values and goals I'm working toward in mind as I continue forward in the future.
I'll leave you with this final slide illustrating the breakdown of books featured on the show since the start of last year. Regular listeners won't be surprised to find an overwhelming representation of picture books on the show. I love the medium and I especially love what new things artists and authors are bringing to the table when it comes to picture books. But my goal is actually a bit different from these results. My goal moving forward is to increase the number of cartoonists and middle grade and YA authors. It's often difficult for me to stay on top of reading middle grade and up because I'm a dreadfully slow reader teaching in an elementary school full time with two young kids at home, but there are ways I can make up for that (such as through audiobooks) and I always love what different conversations come up through these interviews with novelists and cartoonists. Keep an eye (or an ear) out.
Thanks again for going on this journey with me.