Updated: Jan 3
Matthew: Welcome to the Children’s Book Podcast. I’m Matthew.
I am a teacher, a librarian, and a fan of kids. Honestly, they’re my favorite kind of people.
This is the final episode in our origins series. I hope you’ve enjoyed this retrospective. Today, I’m serving up less of a history and more of a manifesto.
The Children’s Book Podcast will soon be back and in full swing. But, it’s going to look and sound a little different than when we left it in April of 2021
For starters, our logo is getting an update. It’s gorgeous. You’re gonna love it.
We’re also getting LOTS more music to keep those ears engaged during transitions.
But the biggest change will come in the form of the show’s format.
I’m turning my focus to children and I want this show to be as classroom-ready as possible.
But why? The show’s been running for nearly 10 years. I’ve got some 750+ interviews with authors and illustrators and publishing professionals talking about craft and engagement and why folks choose to write stories for children. It’s a show and a format that’s worked. Why change?
Because kids. That’s why.
[NORMAL AND FOREVER]
I’ve spent over 20 years working with kids. From summer camps to before and after school programs, classroom teaching to running school libraries. I love being around kids.
I love their wonder. I love how effortlessly they ask questions about why things are as they are. I love watching them grow as readers and, more broadly, as human beings. I love being nearby when they delight in seeing something new. I love witnessing when they make new connections with what they’re learning, or connections with their classmates, or connections with their thoughts and ideas that help push the world around them to be bigger and bigger.
I love reading children’s books because I love thinking about what kid or kids wouldn’t see this as just a book, but their book. And I love being the one to share those books through read alouds and recommendations and every other touch point opportunity.
I also love finding those books that would have meant something special to 8-year-old me. All of us can draw ourselves back to those moments in our childhood. Being able to experience a book through a lens of “imagine what things could have been like if I had access to a book like this when I was a kid.” Do you know what I mean?
I was a pretty serious kid, concerned with rules and fairness. Feeling big feelings and wanting others to know and love those big feelings in me. Not knowing what was “normal” and not always loving myself for those “not normal” things about me.
I have confided in many a guest that one of the best side effects of doing the podcast is that it connected me with others. It built friendships. It allowed me to be vulnerable with people and to feel safe and loved and valued in their company. And to talk with people about their books from that place of safety and love and values, knowing that that’s what makes a book a forever book for me.
John Schu taught me that phrase: a “forever” book. It’s a book that is timeless in its story and its magic and its ability to mean something to its reader. To lots of readers.
I think that all kids deserve to find their “forever” book or, better yet, their “forever” books. Those formative stories that will stand as milestones in their childhood.
And I have no doubt that there are countless authors and illustrators who hope the stories they are telling will be their forever for those readers.
[A MANIFESTO IN TENETS]
I’m rebuilding the Children’s Book Podcast on a set of tenets that will guide each episode and, if I’m doing my job correctly, will be immediately evident.
There are so many great book podcasts about craft and back story, but I think we’re missing a show that connects readers to stories and to the people that make them.
Authors write, often, with a single reader in mind. And through that focused lens, a good story unlocks the power to be universal, giving countless readers opportunity for connection. But finding that book, that connection does not often happen by chance. I believe that librarians are connectors, building a robust knowledge of literature that can be called upon when a reader seeks a connection.
I want this show to be a connector through the stories shared and through the voices platformed.
I believe that every child deserves to see themselves, their family, their experiences, reflected in a book.
I believe children are capable of talking about big topics, so long as those topics are discussed in an environment that is safe, that is tolerant, that is welcoming, and that respects the whole child.
I believe that no concept is beyond a child’s understanding, and that we must use clear, accurate language that talks up to children in order to support new learning.
I believe that children grow up quickly and that childhood is fast fleeting, therefore our work toward justice and equity cannot wait. To work with children means to actively participate in shaping the future, and that is a responsibility I assume wholly and do not take for granted.
These are the tenets that will guide future episodes of the Children’s Book Podcast. I’m going to hold myself accountable to them, and I hope that you’ll hold me accountable to them as well.
Kids are worth it.
They deserve better than what we can give them. And I think that’s why I continue to be drawn to work with them.
Because working with them is also working on me. And it’s some of the most important work that can be done.
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.
DISCLAIMER: 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.