The Reading Culture
The Reading Culture

The Reading Culture

Beanstack

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Episodes

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Host Jordan Lloyd Bookey speaks with authors and reading enthusiasts to explore ways to build a stronger culture of reading in our communities. They'll dive into their personal experiences, inspirations, and why their stories and ideas are connecting so well with kids.

Recent Episodes

Twilight Zone: Julie Murphy on Self-Doubt and Self-Love
MAY 14, 2024
Twilight Zone: Julie Murphy on Self-Doubt and Self-Love
"I've found that the books that have resonated with me the most are books where your body is incidental, but it's still something that you can never leave behind.” - Julie Murphy


Julie Murphy has an unexpected story, one that involves a winding road to her writing career. With equal parts quick wit and matter-of-factness, Julie shares that part of her confidence that she could dare to be a writer came after falling deep into the Twilight series. If Stephanie Meyer, an untrained author, could write an international bestseller about shiny vampires, why couldn’t she write a bestseller too? Okay, possibly not that easy, and of course Julie’s journey to self-assurance and self-love, both for her writing and herself, has been far from just getting caught up in Team Edward vs Team Jacob. 


Navigating the tumult of unstable finances, queerness within Christian religious environments, and body image issues, Julie’s coming-of-age years were full of challenges. Yet, through writing, reading, and self-reflection, she has cultivated a deep love and appreciation for her authentic self and her body. Now, she writes stories that feature characters who undertake similar journeys of self-discovery and who live in and love their bodies.


Julie Murphy is beloved by kids and adults alike. Her acclaimed novel "Dumplin'" was adapted into a popular Netflix film. Along with the “Dumplin’” series, Julie has written the middle grade “Camp Sylvania” series, the "Faith Herbert Origin Story" series and was widely celebrated for her 2014 debut novel, "Side Effects May Vary." In all of her stories, Julie features plus-sized characters whose bodies are incidental to the story, but that inclusion is central to Julie’s own story and to the die-hard fans of her books (raises hand!). 


In this episode, Julie tells us about the double-edged sword of her self-deprecating humor and how she feels about the response she gets not just from her young readers, but especially from their moms. She also discusses the evolution of body politics. She shares the college class that bored her into oblivion, leading her to discover the Twilight series and sparking the chain reaction that landed her in the literary world. 


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Connect with Jordan and The Reading Culture @thereadingculturepod and subscribe to our newsletter at thereadingculturepod.com/newsletter


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While Julie’s own love story is rom-com worthy (she’ll share in the episode!), for her reading challenge, “Love Hurts”, she wants us to read love stories that also… well…. hurt.


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This episode's Beanstack Featured Librarian is Lauren Mobley, a middle school librarian in Atlanta, Georgia. She tells us a funny, heartwarming story about her attempt to curate a special book selection for some new students.


Contents


Chapter 1 - Texas Needs Churches Too

Chapter 2 - Dieting with Mom

Chapter 3 - Twilight: A Masterpiece

Chapter 4 - Ask The Passengers

Chapter 5 - Finding Confidence… and Rejection

Chapter 6 - One Step Back, Two Steps Forward

Chapter 7 - Julie Murphy Fan Club

Chapter 8 - From Cradle to Grave

Chapter 9 - Love Hurts

Chapter 10 - Beanstack Featured Librarian



Links

Host: Jordan Lloyd Bookey

Producer: Jackie Lamport and Lower Street Media

Script Editors: Josia Lamberto-Egan, Jackie Lamport, Jordan Lloyd Bookey

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42 MIN
Filling in the Blanks: Cece Bell on the Comedy of the Absurd
APR 30, 2024
Filling in the Blanks: Cece Bell on the Comedy of the Absurd
"...the reader's mind is filling in the blanks in between those panels and as a lip reader, that's what I do. I fill in the blanks. I'm trying to piece together what that person says. So, comics really make sense to me.” - Cece Bell


I first came to know Cece Bell through her groundbreaking semi-autobiographical graphic memoir novel, “El Deafo.” It was SO good that I had to read more by her. That's when I found out, through reading aloud with our (then younger) kids, that Cece's work is hilarious. Her zany, expressive storytelling combined with her vibrant illustrations create her unique style which she dubs, “absurdism for children.” During our conversation, Cece explains that it is in fact a style born out of misunderstandings, of her trying to make sense of the world around her while navigating it with deafness. 

While Cece is best known for "El Deafo," which received a Newbery honor, most of her books are for a slightly younger set. These include her laugh-out-loud funny "Chick and Brain" series, and her earlier Sock Monkey trilogy. Cece’s journey to pursuing a career as an artist was first dependent on her discovering confidence in her abilities, and also in her disability. Something that she didn’t fully realize until she wrote “El Deafo.” 

In this episode, Cece shares insights into her creative process, revealing how her experiences navigating the world with deafness have shaped her storytelling and sense of humor (and draws the connection between her deafness and her love for puns). She also tells us about the gory job that convinced her to pursue a career as an artist. For any budding comic creators, she also reveals the only book you need to read before your write your first graphic novel.

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Connect with Jordan and The Reading Culture @thereadingculturepod and subscribe to our newsletter at thereadingculturepod.com/newsletter

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For her reading challenge, Sibling Stories, Cece has curated a list of books that highlight the special relationships between siblings, something that has always fascinated her. In case you wondered, Cece has two older siblings. You can find his list and all past reading challenges at thereadingculturepod.com/cece-bell


This episode's Beanstack Featured Librarian is Amanda Maslonka, a 26-year veteran in education, and an elementary school librarian at Pasadena ISD in Texas. She tells us a funny and heartwarming story from her days working with first graders.

Contents

Chapter 1 - Funny Family (2:02)

Chapter 2 - No One Makes Fun of the Funny Kid (6:23)

Chapter 3 - At The Dentist (13:54)

Chapter 4 - Understanding Comics (18:08)

Chapter 5 - El Deafo (24:21)

Chapter 6 - High Tech Hearing (26:46)

Chapter 7 - Absurdism for Children (31:05)

Chapter 8 - Animal Albums (37:08)

Chapter 9 - Sibling Stories (39:24)

Chapter 10 - Beanstack Featured Librarian (41:04)



Links

Host: Jordan Lloyd Bookey

Producer: Jackie Lamport and Lower Street Media

Script Editors: Josia Lamberto-Egan, Jackie Lamport, Jordan Lloyd Bookey

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43 MIN
Hero of the Anti-Heroes: Gregory Maguire on the Value of Second Chances
APR 16, 2024
Hero of the Anti-Heroes: Gregory Maguire on the Value of Second Chances
"That's really all we are obliged to do for those we call our enemies. We are obliged to see them as humans, and then we behave the way we will. We are obliged not to consider them as less than human because that way, all hell breaks loose. - Gregory Maguire


Gregory Maguire expresses himself with extreme precision. While many of us may grasp for words to communicate a specific emotion or to describe a series of events, Gregory seemingly has words and turns of phrase on command. What a delight it is to listen to Gregory talk about his journey, his writing, and his thoughts on a wide variety of topics. 


Close to Gregory’s heart is the belief that everyone has a backstory, a context—even our enemies. And no matter how difficult the task may seem, he believes it is our duty to understand that story and find it within ourselves to empathize with them—not to excuse them but to simply see them as humans.

Gregory has built his career around telling the stories of antiheroes, most notably through the reimaginings of classic fairytales in novels such as "Wicked," "Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister," and "Mirror Mirror." That ability to find empathy and a curiosity to understand even the most seemingly undeserving characters emerges in his other children's and young adult books and is deeply rooted in experiences from Gregory’s early life.


In this episode
, Gregory shares those early life experiences (which can honestly be described as “Dickensian”) and how his relationships with his father and siblings have impacted his writing and life choices. He tells us about his love of the “arresting strangeness” of literary worlds and how this sensation inspired him to become a writer. He also shares why he believes in the children's stories he writes, not always getting a “happily ever after.”


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Connect with Jordan and The Reading Culture @thereadingculturepod and subscribe to our newsletter at thereadingculturepod.com/newsletter
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In his reading challenge, Arresting Strangeness (a term coined by J.R.R. Tolkien), Gregory has compiled a list of his favorite books that envelop you completely and force you to look at the world around you anew. You can find his list and all past reading challenges at thereadingculturepod.com/gregory-maguire

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This episode's Beanstack Featured Librarian is Lauren Mobley, a middle school librarian in Atlanta, Georgia. She tells us about a fun reading program she set up in her school inspired by a hit reality TV show.


Contents

Chapter 1 - Travel of the Mind

Chapter 2 - Home, the Orphanage, and back again

Chapter 3 - The Children of Green Knowe

Chapter 4 - Harriet the Recorder

Chapter 5 - Origins of Empathy

Chapter 6 - The Absence of a Happily Ever After

Chapter 7 - Arresting Strangeness

Chapter 8 - Beanstack Featured Librarian



Links


Host:
Jordan Lloyd Bookey

Producer: Jackie Lamport and Lower Street Media

Script Editors: Josia Lamberto-Egan, Jackie Lamport, Jordan Lloyd Bookey


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42 MIN
Simple Thing, Felt: Nina LaCour on Unwrapping a Moment
APR 2, 2024
Simple Thing, Felt: Nina LaCour on Unwrapping a Moment
"I spend a lot of time trying to hope that I'll remember little things and how a certain simple thing felt. …  Writing is one way of trying to capture that feeling, even if I'm fictionalizing it still.” - Nina LaCour


If Nina LaCour were a drink, she would be a cozy cup of tea. You’re not rushing to finish a conversation with Nina. Rather, you are spending time exploring the details. And that is exactly what we did in this episode.

The world moves fast. Usually faster than we’d like it to. But writing can gift us the ability to slow a moment down, to digest and analyze at a more intentional pace. For Nina LaCour, writing starts with observing the world around you, getting ready to break it down into words and unravel the meaning on a page. 

As a new writer, Nina found it best to share those observations through young adult literature after falling in love with it in college. She has since written a picture book, “Mama, Mommy and Me in the Middle,” and returned to an adult novel she shelved early in her career (“Yerba Buena”). More recently, she released "The Apartment House on Poppy Hill," the sweetest chapter book. 

Nina’s work is notably thoughtful and gentle. Her complex topics have resonated deeply with young readers and adults alike (including our own recent guest, Mark Oshiro). She’s best known for her novels such as “Hold Still,” "Everything Leads to You," and "We Are Okay," which received the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature. 

In this episode, she shares her journey to falling in love with young adult literature and how Virginia Woolf helped her find the love of her life. She also explores writing's capacity to uncover the depth within every moment and discusses the importance of queer family representation in literature.


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Connect with Jordan and The Reading Culture @thereadingculturepod and subscribe to our newsletter at thereadingculturepod.com/newsletter

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In her reading challenge, At the Intersection, Nina has curated a list of books at the intersection of queerness and family.


You can find her list and all past reading challenges at thereadingculturepod.com/nina-lacour


This episode's Beanstack Featured Librarian is Faith Rice Mills, librarian at Nelda Sullivan Middle School in Pasadena, Texas. She tells us a heartwarming story to remind librarians of the importance of their work, even when that impact isn't obvious.


Contents

Chapter 1 - The Outsider…

Chapter 2 - …Becomes the Observer

Chapter 3 - Mrs. Dalloway

Chapter 4 - On Being Gentle

Chapter 5 - Bang Bang

Chapter 6 - At the Intersection

Chapter 7 - Beanstack Featured Librarian


Links

Host: Jordan Lloyd Bookey
Producer: Jackie Lamport and Lower Street Media

Script Editors: Josia Lamberto-Egan, Jackie Lamport, Jordan Lloyd Bookey


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37 MIN
The World As It Should Be: LeUyen Pham Illustrates an Ideal
MAR 19, 2024
The World As It Should Be: LeUyen Pham Illustrates an Ideal
"There's something very lovely about feeling like, well, it's not my name, and it's not me, it's just the books.” - LeUyen Pham


To listen to LeUyen Pham is to feel inspired. She is full of hope and ideas and sees potential everywhere and in everyone. In LeUyen’s ideal world, diverse representation is a natural outgrowth of art that truly reflects our world. Her career as an artist and writer has been her contribution to making that a reality. Her career as an artist and writer has been her contribution to making that a reality. If you have ever read a book that LeUyen illustrated, you already know this to be true. The diversity we see in LeUyen’s pages is at once realistic and aspirational. 


Her illustration credits include over 130 books, such as “Bear Came Along,” recognized with a Caldecott Honor, the popular “The Princess in Black” series, “Lunar New Year Love Story,” and my kids’ favorite when they were younger, “Grace for President.” She has also illustrated and written a few of her own, including the award-winning “Outside, Inside” and “Big Sister Little Sister.”


In this episode, LeUyen tells us why she prefers to be an “art chameleon” (and how that led to challenges early in her career). She talks about how support from her teachers showed her that a career as an artist was even a possibility and how an accusation of cheating (well, not really) put her on the right path.


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Connect with Jordan and The Reading Culture @thereadingculturepod and subscribe to our newsletter at thereadingculturepod.com/newsletter.


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In her reading challenge, Chasing Home, LeUyen gets personal and invites us to explore the concept of what home means, especially from her perspective as a refugee.


You can find her list and all past reading challenges at thereadingculturepod.com/leuyen-pham


This episode’s Beanstack Featured Librarian is Marva Coney, a librarian at Jackson Intermediate in the Pasadena Independent School District. She shares a story about just how important books can be as kids start to grow and experience newer and harder parts of life for the first time.


Contents

Chapter 1 - Temple City and Bill Peet (2:06)

Chapter 2 - From Wynne to LeUyen (8:16)

Chapter 3 - The Witch of Blackbird Pond (10:01)

Chapter 4 - Art Chameleon (18:51)

Chapter 5 - Incidental Diversity (24:55)

Chapter 6 - The Artist Shows Herself (31:05)

Chapter 7 - Chasing Home (36:52)

Chapter 8 - Beanstack Featured Librarian (38:18)


Links

Host: Jordan Lloyd Bookey
Producer:
Jackie Lamport and Lower Street Media
Script Editors: Josia Lamberto-Egan, Jackie Lamport, Jordan Lloyd Bookey


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40 MIN