Updated: Dec 21, 2022
Matthew: Hello listeners. I’ve missed you.
For some of you, this will be the first time you’re hearing my voice in a long time. For others, you’ll be familiar with the journey I’ll recount on our time together today.
The Children’s Book Podcast is returning. It’s time.
But it’s not going to look the way we last left it. Things change. People grow. Spaces evolve. My constant companions, my thoughts, my dreams, my experiences, my values, are constantly pushing and pulling at my edges.
The show will return soon with all new interviews, a new look, and a new feel. But those who have come to know me, know that I am weak to nostalgia, to looking back as a means of shining a light on what’s ahead.
And so I present this mini-series to you: origins. Wherein my goal will be to weave together 17 years of teaching (so far), a decade of making podcasts, and a journey of finding myself.
Today… names. This show has had more than its handful of names and rebrands. So today we’ll dig into the origins of the podcast’s names and theme songs from its start in 2013, including an unintended naming innuendo that brought on its own alternate theme song.
[Let's Get Busy]
Story. Is there any way more effective at connecting to one another than through story?
The first episode of The Children’s Book Podcast released on July 2, 2013. Many of the episodes from the first years of the show have been lost to time, and I’m not sure how I feel about that.
They reveal a young, inexperienced podcaster with an enthusiasm for connecting and a curiosity and wonder toward almost everything.
In its infancy, the show was called “Let’s Get Busy”. I can’t escape thinking this name is totally inappropriate for the kidlit space, and yet I think I was just willfully unaware at the time. I had been blogging for several years by this point and the name of the blog was “The Busy Librarian”, inspired, no doubt, by a colleague who had taken to self-identifying/branding as “The Daring Librarian.” And so it seemed only natural to adapt the Busy Librarian blog name into something for the podcast.
I can still hear the “bow-chicka-wow-wow” theme song my friends, Sherry and Kathy, used to gently tease me. But always in the most loving way.
Here’s a pull from what the theme song actually sounded like:
* Theme song begins at 2:34.
Shoutout to my friend Kendall from CurlyRed, who made the show’s first logo. It was a rocket ship zooming around the globe. That logo stayed for nearly two years until friend of the show and amazing illustrator Rilla Alexander redesigned the logo and incorporated into it the most adorable bumblebee with books for wings. I loved the heck out of that logo.
Rilla and I first connected over her book “The Best Book in the World”, which I still think belongs in every single library and classroom. It just endures and is such a beautifully designed book.
At some point in late 2015 I met a guy named Blake. And that opened up a new path in kidlit that I just adored.
[All the Wonders: The Children's Book Podcast]
Blake Hamilton is a fellow dreamer and knew all about my love of ideation, of creating something from nothing, of imagining new possibilities, and of treading new ground.
Blake and I created a site called All the Wonders and we pulled in a bunch of kidlit bloggers and makers that we adored (shoutout to Mike, to Katie, to Hannah, to Jess, to Carter, to Emily, to Brian, and most especially to my dear, dear friend Mel).
The idea was to provide as many entry points as possible to outstanding books for children. We did that through crafts, through songs, through picture book walks, and, of course, through podcasts. And because I was a co-founder, and because my work was so known in the space, we decided to rebrand the podcast to “All The Wonders: the children’s book podcast”.
The logo was created by Brian Won, children’s book author and illustrator of “Hooray for Hat”. He also created and incorporated a podcast bunny into the logo design and that character stuck. I love to think of Podcast Bunny as my children’s book illustration alter ego.
Emily Arrow, a wonderful musician and massive fan of kids, wrote the new theme music.
* Theme song begins at 2:41.
The podcast continued to evolve alongside the website. The world was changing and so was I. With new purpose and seeking new ways to push myself and the stories I was centering, I decided it was best to part ways with All The Wonders and set out on my own again.
[The Children's Book Podcast]
And so, in 2018, I rebranded the show once again.
This time, “The Children’s Book Podcast” felt like a name that said plainly what the show is. I kept the format the same, but focused more intently on centering the heart of the story, that quality that I thought would resonate most deeply with readers because it resonated most deeply with me.
The theme song I selected sought to reflect this exact quality by being understated, gentle, and, I think, hopeful.
* Theme song begins at 1:25.
It was during this iteration that the show found it’s home among a wide audience of teachers, librarians, authors, illustrators, and fans of children’s literature. My people.
The show has long been a source of connection, of friendship-making and ally-affirming conversations, but in the fall of 2020 it also did something new: it brought along a job opportunity.
I interviewed Jelani Memory, author of A Kids Book About Racism and founder of A Kids Book About. That interview led to Jelani offering me a job as Head of Podcasts at A Kids Co.
[Worth Noting: A Kids Podcast About Current Events]
A Kids Co. was that of an accelerant in the podcast space for me. I developed 13 original shows and over 425+ original episodes across those shows. I learned more about myself and about podcasting for kids in those 22 months than I ever thought possible. And my brain was alight with ideas.
Putting The Children’s Book Podcast on pause indefinitely, I decided to do something new on the RSS feed: “Worth Noting: A Kids Podcast About Current Events.”
* Theme song begins at 0:26.
It was the most classroom-adjacent podcast I made to date. Worth Noting, which you can still find on this feed, was an attempt to recreate the conversations I would have with kids in the library when they asked me about the big things happening in the world. It’s a show that centers agency and talking in plain, accessible terms to kids. It’s something that I think a lot of adults struggle with as well, and something that called upon my nearly 2 decades in teaching.
I’m really proud of the work I’ve done through Worth Noting, and especially grateful to share the space with Nicole Young, my co-host from Kidlit These Days, our once-podcast at Book Riot.
My time with A Kids Co. was, without question, worth noting. Pun not intended. But I am continuing to grow and to change and to explore the world around me through the things that I make, the ways that I use my voice, and the places I help to amplify the voices of others.
And as I’ve reflected on where I’ve been and looked ahead to where the universe might be taking me, my mind keeps bringing me back to that place that’s always felt like home, probably because I’ve always worked to make it feel like home to my guests and, hopefully, to you, listeners.
Thanks for being here.
Thanks for supporting me.
Thank you for your care and your time and your companionship.
The Children’s Book Podcast will return soon. And I hope you will, as well.
This podcast was written, edited, and produced by me, Matthew Winner.
Subscribe to The Children’s Book Podcast wherever podcasts are found, and leave us a rating or review when you do. That helps us out a whole lot because it helps the show get discovered by and recommended to new listeners.
Our music is by Podington Bear. Podcast hosting by Anchor.
We are a proud member of Kids Listen, the best place to discover the best in kids podcasts. Learn more at kidslisten.org.
Be well. And read on.
Let’s Get Busy podcast blog - http://lgbpodcast.blogspot.com/p/blog-page.html
All The Wonders podcast blog - http://www.allthewonders.com/podcasts/atwpodcast/
The Best Book in the World by Rilla Alexander
Hooray for Hat by Brian Won
Tuning Radio sound effect from Pixabay
Kids Listen - https://www.kidslisten.org
* Bookshop.org affiliate links provided for any book titles mentioned in the episode. Bookshop.org support independent book stores and also shares a small percentage of any sales made through this podcast back to me, which helps to fund production of this show.