By Asha Sridhar
How do you ensure that something as non-negotiable as diversity is not reduced to just a trend? Who decides who the supposed audience for a book should be and on what basis? If you’ve found yourself thinking about this and more, join the conversation with these podcasts on children’s publishing that focus on amplifying marginalized and diverse voices.
Kidlit These Days
Kidlit These Days by Book Riot is the perfect starting point if you want to get your finger on the pulse of the diversity discourse in children’s publishing. Now hosted by school librarian Matthew Winner and writer and educator Nicole Young, the podcast deliberates on topics such as body positivity, neurodiversity, and #OwnVoices among many others, and even features some author interviews. The roughly 40-50 minute episodes are engaging and nuanced. You can also find great book recommendations. If you’re interested in author and illustrator interviews, you can also tune into Winner’s other podcast, The Children’s Book Podcast.
Minorities in Publishing
With an archive running back to 2014, you need to set aside a considerable amount of time to devour the show’s exhaustive collection of episodes. Minorities in Publishing is hosted by writer and editor Jennifer Baker and spans the breadth of the publishing profession ranging from authors to editors to literary agents to marketers to booksellers. It gives a ringside view of the industry through a series of in-depth interviews. You’ll hear interviewees reflect on how they do what they do and the challenges they face. Baker plumbs the depths of the publishing field and brings forth the unique experiences of the people who bring us diverse and important stories to read. Regardless of whether you are a publishing professional or a complete outsider, you’ll be sure to find something valuable here.
Book Friends Forever
Hosted by childhood friends Alvina Ling and Grace Lin, Book Friends Forever is that podcast you want to listen to while on a brisk walk. It’s like having two companions match your stride and casually chat about the happenings in their lives. Ling, Editor-in-Chief at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, and Lin, an award-winning author and illustrator, weave in important diversity topics in their conversations about the publishing industry, their Asian-American identities, and life in general. Lin also has two other interesting podcasts—Kidlit Women*, now archived, and Kids Ask Authors, which has short, snappy episodes where children ask an author and Lin one question.
Lifelines: Books that Bridge the Divide
In the twenty or so available episodes, Lifelines: Books that Bridge the Divide tackles complex subjects ranging from poverty to immigration. Co-hosts Saadia Faruqi, an author, cultural sensitivity trainer, and interfaith activist and Ann Braden, former middle school teacher, author, and community organizer populate this podcast with interviews and insights. Experts, educators, and school students weigh in on issues of representation, cultural and economic sensitivity, and parental awareness. They discuss more than just books; in one episode they look at what schools can do to support students facing homelessness. If you are always scouting for interesting children’s and Young Adult titles, be especially ready to jot down names when you listen to Faruqi’s ‘Books You Have Never Heard Of’ segment.
Talking About Books for Kids
In this archived podcast, pediatrician and writer Jacqueline Douge spotlights some diverse reads for children and interviews the authors behind these books. Some episodes speak to adults as well as children who are avid readers and aspiring writers. To begin with, you could take inspiration from scientist and author Patricia Valdez, who talks about her picture book Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor, women in STEM, and how creativity and science can go hand in hand. In the final episode of the podcast, Douge mentions she plans to merge this podcast with her other podcast, What is Black?.
If you know of other interesting podcasts, feel free to share them in the comments!
Asha Sridhar is a freelance writer based out of Jersey City. She loves wandering through old historic buildings, bustling streets and anything that closely resembles a bookshop.