Review by Penny Rabiger

Director of engagement, Lyfta Education

3 Apr 2021, 5:00


Penny’s podcasts, 29 March 2021

To mark International Children’s’ Book Day on 2 April, Penny Rabiger selects five podcasts with a focus on children’s literature


Talking Race podcast


This episode examines the absence of race in children’s books

This podcast series was co-created by Leeds Beckett University’s Dr Daniel Kilvington and Professor Vini Lander, who hope to inspire positive change by offering an honest, informed discussion around race. The episode I have chosen, Race and Children’s Literature, examines the absence of race in children’s books.

Guest interviewer, Dr Emily Zobel Marshall, talks with Darren Chetty and Lisa Stephenson about the reasons why Black, Asian and minority ethnic children think stories are about white people and why only a tiny minority of books for primary children feature Black or Asian characters or protagonists. They discuss the positive role played by the Story Makers project in addressing this absence.


The Guardian Children’s Books podcast


Sally Gardner talks to 17-year-old Patrick, who read the book aged 7

This is quite an old podcast series, which features all sorts of authors talking about their work, including favourites like Michael Rosen, John Agard, and R.J Palacio, author of Wonder. I have chosen an episode from 2015. In this one, on the 10th anniversary of her first book I Coriander, author Sally Gardner talks to 17-year-old Patrick, who read the book aged 7.

They talk about writing historical novels, the power of fairy tales, Sally Gardner’s dyslexia and why the school system needs a big shake up. She critiques how the school system judges us at such an early age in a way that marks us for life. She also talks about the power of diversity, eccentricity and imagination, which should in her opinion be nurtured by teachers and not crushed.


The Children’s Book podcast


Each episode will open your eyes to some incredible picture books

This podcast series features insightful and sincere interviews with authors, illustrators, and everyone involved in taking a book from drawing board to bookshelf. There’s a massive selection to choose from, and each episode will open your eyes to some incredible picture books, stories, young adult novels and more.

With all the talk about post-pandemic catch-up and summer schools, the episode that caught my eye features author, KA Holt discussing his book, Benbee and the Teacher Griefer. KA’s first book in the Kids Under the Stairs series introduces readers to Ben B., Ben Y., Javier, and Jordan, four children forced to take a summer school class in order to improve their scores on the state assessment.

This book is a story about learning how to exist together and also about learning how not to censor yourself. The author pours a lot of heart into bringing readers close to a group of kids who many teachers will be familiar with – the ones that don’t get “seen” often enough in schools – and the way they fight to be seen day after day, even when they might not feel like they are. Powerful stuff.


CLPE podcast


The enthusiasm, knowledge and depth of discussion are really engaging

The Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) is a brilliant charity dedicated to helping schools develop literacy learning that transforms lives. CLPE started a podcast series called Words for the World this academic year.

In the first (and only, so far) episode, the hosts are joined by children’s book author and illustrator, Oliver Jeffers, for an insight into his work, and to discuss the #CLPEWordsfortheWorld​ social campaign. The enthusiasm, knowledge and depth of discussion are really engaging.


In the Reading Corner podcast


Serroukh suggests ways teachers and librarians can achieve wider representation in book collections

In the Reading Corner describes itself as a podcast for anyone interested in children’s books and reading. For teachers especially, there is much to discover here about topical issues, latest children’s books, writing processes, and authors’ inspirations.

The specific episode I’ve chosen considers the issues around diversity and reading children’s books. Farrah Serroukh from the aforementioned CLPE talks about why this is a hot topic and suggests ways teachers and librarians can work to achieve wider representation in book collections.

Also in the episode, Dr Alice Curry explains why she decided to set up her own publishing company; Zana Fraillon talks to Nikki Gamble about her Amnesty award-winning book, The Bone Sparrow; and Caroline Bradley reviews Town by the Sea.

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