EP 1 Transcript: Finding Kindred Spirits on Bookstagram: An Introduction to the Picture Bookstagang

Transcription of Episode 1

Intro: Welcome to the Picture Bookstagang Podcast 

I’m Ale

I’m Corrie

I’m Kelly

And we’re the picture bookstagang! We invite you to join us here every other week while we discuss amazing books and issues  in children’s literature.  As well as Early literacy education and parenting as it relates to reading.  We can’t wait to dig in and deep and get nerdy about picture books with you.

0:36 C: Hello and welcome to the very first picture bookstagang podcast.  We’re so excited we are finally here and sharing this with you so we wanted to take this chance to introduce ourselves and talk a bit more about what we hope to achieve here.  With that I’m going to toss it to Ale to introduce herself.

A: Hi! I’m Ale and I run @readwithriver on instagram, we also have a website and I am a teacher in Canada with a lot of background experience specifically in full day kindergarten.  I also have two children who are under the age of five and I started this account to share what I’m doing at home to support their early literacy and sort of my approach to teaching them how to read and learning how to love reading.  Because I don’t think that is a consideration that people often emphasize when they’re teaching their children how to read or planning the books they think that their children should be reading.  So my approach in all of this is really how we can be supporting our children at home and in the classroom so they can grow up to be happy readers.  I took this great course towards a music specialist and the teacher of the course was always emphasizing our 30 year plan, so in that case, what do we want our students to be doing in 30 years?  For her, she wanted to make sure that her students were happy and joyful musical participants and people who felt comfortable with music, and for me my 30 year plan was to make sure in 30 years my kids enjoy reading. So, that’s me.  Let’s pass it over to Kelly.

K: Thanks Ale! My name is Kelly. My pronouns are she/her and I am a mom in Canada. I started Inclusive Storytime a little over a year ago as a way for our family to be more accountable to our bookshelf and the media our son was consuming. I’d never really guessed that it would get as much attention as it’s gotten over time and that so many people would be interested in the books that we read and enjoy.  I definitely am somebody who loves reading and has always had a big part of myself has been participating in social justice in my community in my schools growing up all of those things I think when we stepped back and took stock of what was on our shelf we realized there were more bears and trucks than there were human beings and when we dug deeper I realized there’s a systemic issue in the publishing industry that definitely needs to be examined.  That has all led to what @Inclusivestorytime has become today, it is us being accountable as a family, it is us trying to make picture books that have Black, Indiginous, People of Colour, LGBTQ People, Disabled people more attractive for the average buyer and hopefully that leads to longer term change in the publishing industry.  Ultimately we really just love picture books.  So that’s us, now I’m going to hand it over to Corrie.

C: I am Corrie, pronouns are She/they either is fine, my spouse and I live right outside Boston in the United States and I primarily run @thetinyactivists Instagram account however The Tiny Activists is also a website and I am one half of that.  My spouse and I started that together, their name is Lee and we started it late in 2018.  We started it because I was a classroom teacher and I was on the hunt for the best books that I could share in the classroom and I was really finding a lot of websites that were sort of siloed individual topics and lists and I was interested in more of an intersectional approach, shout out to Kimberle Crenshaw.  I wanted to have a place I could go and search for a lot of overlapping intersecting identities to use with books in the classroom, so we decided to solve our own problem and start the website.

6: 20 K: Awesome, so that’s a little bit about us as individuals but the other thing that we are hoping to talk about today is what we hope to achieve with this podcast because I think that picturebooks are a little bit of a strange topic to start a podcast on but there’s also been this very intense influx of people who are interested in what goes into their bookshelf recently.  That’s for a variety of reasons but we think it’s something that’s really important to pay attention to because this is one of the primary ways that our children are absorbing information and messaging. It is also the way that our children learn to read, whether it’s in the classroom or in your home.  So, we want to be able to touch on topics of quality in picture books, picture books as Ale has said many times are little works of art in and of themselves.  There’s so much that goes into marrying these pictures and words together.  We also want to talk about the publishing industry, how that’s made up and how that works. We want to talk about classrooms and how picture books can be used better.  We also really want to talk about early literacy and how important that really is to our children, to foster a joy and love of reading, as Ale was talking about in her introduction there.  So I’m going to toss it over to Ale to explain how we all met and became friends and became this little picture bookstagang.

7:55 A: Well, it all started when I had my second child and discovered that I was needing something else to do with my time that wasn’t gonna disappear at the end of the day.  Which is I think part of being a mom of very young children, everything you do gets swept away and you have to do it again.

K: mhmmm

A: So I started my instagram account, which is @Readwithriver and I was sharing, at first it was just books and I didn’t realize at the time that this was a thing that other people were already doing it was kind of a surprise to me to find out that there’s this whole community called Bookstagram and people from around the world get together and they talk about the books that they’re reading they take very particular pictures or videos and that’s what they do all the time.  So I entered this world and after a few months I thought to myself, “You know what I need to do? I need to start a club!” Because why not?  And I started asking people that I had seen and I asked Kelly I was like “Hey! I know you don’t know me but do you wanna join my club? And, she was like “yeah, what the heck, sure why not.”

Kelly: (Laughs at Ale’s amazing jokes)

Ale: Then I was like “Well, do you know anyone else that would say yes to my very strange 

question?” (Which is kind of strange if you don’t know the person.) And she was like “Yes!”

Kelly: But I jumped right in! 

A: And she suggested Corrie, @Thetinyactivist, who she didn’t actually know at the time.

Kelly: No I did not I just really, really admired their account and I was obsessed with their account name I thought it was the most clever Instagram handle in the entire world and I had already been secretly gossiping with in real life friends with how much I loved their account, so it was like my weird way in to make friends, and look, it worked.

A: So yeah!  So I approached Corrie and Lee and was like “Hey! You wanna join my club?” And they were like “Sure? Why not?” And there were a whole bunch of other people who also said yes.

K: How many were there to begin with in our club?

A: I think when we did “The Best Books of 2019 List” So that would have been December of last year, there were like 15 members and then we had 4 guest hosts.  So there was 15 at the moment we have 14 but some of them are different, so we do turn over new people now and then.  But not you guys, you guys are stuck with me all together in a pod.

K: Well I think it’s important to talk about how the three of us have ended up on this podcast and ultimately it comes down to the fact that when we were in our group chat the three of us got way too silly for everybody else and we had to go off and make our own group chat to contain our silliness.  But in all of that I think a lot of passion grew for what we were all doing, so here we are today!  

A: Here we are.

11:40 K:  So maybe I can talk about building a diverse bookshelf and why we want to do that and then we’re gonna get after that Corrie to talk about some of the terminology that we might use throughout this podcast. Just to get everybody acquainted. 

 11:57 K: So it comes down to a question who needs to build a diverse bookshelf and my answer to that is everyone needs to build a diverse bookshelf.   The vast majority of books that come out are anthropomorphic cars and animals but it’s much harder for a child to build empathy and understand moral lessons and grow when they don’t see human beings in their books.  They can relate to another human being much better when they’re seeing human beings in the media they consume.  Not everything has to be bears.  And we do make a lot of jokes about books about bears. We don’t hate bears in books, we just think that there’s more in children’s literature than just bears.

13:25 A: Yes, and can I just add something to that it’s that it’s not that non-human characters cannot be entertaining or be valuable for learning to read or anything like that but when you have a story about a bear your child also understands that that story is not real.  It’s not a real depiction of life, it’s not a piece of information.  They do understand.

K: Kids are so smart. 

A: Things are fact and some things are not and yes there’s a little bit of overlap and getting confused but for the most part they do understand the difference between a talking bear in a hat and a story you are telling them of an actual person.  So it does get absorbed differently and put into their understanding of the world.

K: Yes.

A: So really it’s about that understanding when we’re talking about why we need to diversify our bookshelf and have the representation be people.

14:12 K: Children are inherently selfish.  Their world is small, they’re the centre of their own world.  So when  you’re able to show them people and concepts that are outside of their bubble they internalize that and that leads to long long long term internalizing that fights bias, that helps them grow into more well rounded human beings.  Right now I’m going to ask Corrie to talk more about the concepts of windows and mirrors and some of the other terminology that we use that might help to clarify a little bit more about this concept.

15:00 C: Yeah, in this first episode I thought it might have been a good idea just to explain a few terms that I think we’re going to be using a lot throughout all of these episodes and to have something to refer back to if maybe you’re joining us in a later episode and are unsure of the exact definition.

So like Kelly mentioned I wanted to do windows and mirrors first, which was developed by Emily Style in 1988 by “|The National Seed Project” and it’s a great description of how we can use books, A book can be a window or it can be a mirror. It can reflect a child’s experience back to them and validate that experience, it can also be a window through which they can see others’ lived experiences.  And this is particularly important for a diverse bookshelf because of the unbalanced way that the publishing industry is right now, the majority of books published are with white protagonists or with animal protagonists, so it’s more crucial than ever to have people in books that can be a window to lived experiences that differ from the reader’s own. 

16:20 C: The next one I just wanted to just run through real quick was BIPOC and that is an acronym it stands for Black Indiginous People of Colour and that is a quick acronym to talk so we can decentre whiteness instead of saying something like “Non-White” we would say something like BIPOC folx, BIPOC individuals and this also isn’t a replacement for when you know somebody’s specific background, you should be saying Black if the person is Black you should be saying Indiginous if the person is Indiginous but if you’re talking about generally People of Colour, BIPOC is a great acronym to use.

17:05 C: The next one which I also shouted out in my intro is Intersectionality and this is developed by Kimberle Crenshaw and she is a Black Lawyer and theorist and she developed this explanation for the way that oppression intersects with people and they can have overlapping identities and oppressions. And it really came out of a large case in the United States to explain how Black women could be oppressed in the workplace because they were both Black and they were women, that would be an example of an intersection of identities.

17:53 C: And the last one “Own Voices” which is used to describe a book or a story a podcast a song anything that is produced by the group with which the experience is about so an Indiginous own voices picture book would have an indiginous author and illustrator this is started on twitter by an author named Corinne Duyvis in 2015 I believe.  We will also have all these links in Show Notes as well for anybody who wants to take a deep dive into there.  But I think those are you know, the big four that we’ll be talking about.

18:37 K: And I think that we in individual episodes will dive deeper into all of those concepts in different ways as well as getting into a lot more terminology about early literacy and things like that.  Own Voices and Windows and Mirrors especially I think are things we’re going to be talking about a lot, Own Voices has some gray areas when you’re talking about Authors and Illustrators because some people consider an Own Voices book to just have the author, some people are okay if it’s the illustrator depending on the content of the book. So there’s lots to get into there.

C: So much rich discussion to be had friends!

A:I’m not sure we agree about the Own Voices (Author vs. Illustrator.).

K:I think there’s a lot to talk about there.

A: Laughs 

C:I’m really excited to have these conversations with you and did either of you have anything else you wanted to achieve with the podcast? 

19:44 K: I mean I think all of us have a deep interest in enriching children’s lives and I think there’s a lot more to talk about in terms of parenting and education and I think that one of the things that’s really interesting about the three of us is the venn diagram of the picture bookstagang, which is that Corrie is an educator, I am a parent, but Ale is a parent and an educator she’s right in that middle piece of that venn diagram.  And I think it gives us all different perspectives on how we take these little pieces of art and use them.

20:22 K: So I think how you take a book and then use that as a tool for literacy, and then also take that book and use it to start intentional conversations with your child is gonna be a big thing that will come up over and over again in the podcast.

20:45 C: Definitely, and though I am not a classroom educator anymore I do feel very passionately that any education a person has is transformative rather than transactional. I feel like every book could be a teaching moment and a learning opportunity for the reader, for the educator, as well as the person that is just listening for fun story time, you know?

K: And what are your big goals Ale?

21:16 A: It’s hard to say!  I’m just on a journey with you guys sharing stuff that I like.  I mean I love the outreach to parent, as someone who has been a classroom teacher for I dunno, it’s been a while, like 6 years? 7 years?  I don’t know.  Time, what is time?  One of the things that I really struggled with teaching FDK (Full Day Kindergarten Program in Ontario) was helping parents feel like they had the tools to support their kids at home with literacy and know what to do with the books that we’re sending them home with.  Because it’s not obvious and to just dismiss it as ‘oh you know you just read a book or two, they’ll learn at school” I don’t think it’s enough. So the ability to share some of the knowledge of pedagogy that we have as teachers that really should be just public knowledge, so here I am doing that.

K: (Laughs)

K: And the three of us who have grown close, really close over the course of this year get to hang out and chat and just be super super super nerdy which is my favourite thing. So I’m excited for our journey on this podcast and Ale has been busy at work thinking up some of our upcoming topics, so I want her to talk about those.

22:53 A: Yes, I love writing titles I feel very productive. Haha.  So some of the wonderful topics that you can look forward to here on the Picture Bookstagang Podcast are “Oh Hi There!” Oh wait, that’s right now!  The next ones will be  “Diversifying your shelf and Making Intentional Choices” We’ll be talking about published books that are problematic and how you can use your own critical thinking skills to make decisions about what is and isn’t okay. We’re going to be talking about “Setting Healthy Early Literacy Routines” and “Why we Need Own voices” How do we know if it’s Own Voices? Whose voice is it?

K: Who’s voice?

A: Who’s voice?

K: And I think one of the things that will come out of every single episode is how much we all love books and we’re all readers we are all obsessed with illustration.  There are so many different facets to these books and we definitely have our major fan moments when we see things that click with us and we’re all super opinionated which is fun.

24:16 A: Very opinionated

K:I like strong opinions strongly held.

A: I have strong opinions about everything.

K and A: (Laughing)

K: And the real goal will be when we get Corrie to get super passionate about something and just trample all over us.

A: Is it going to be about pie crust?

K:It might be

C: Get ready, it might.  Who knows? You’ll never know I’m like a sleeping volcano. 

Everyone: Chuckles

24:47 K: And you know we will talk about books with bears and elephants who make noodles and all kinds of things like that.  And you know I think in the future we’d love to interview authors and illustrators and have entire episode about a single picture book which I think is unfathomable to lots of people but the three of us could talk about a single book for hours and hours I think.

A: Depending on the book yeah.

K: Depending on the book? We can get pretty heated. And you know Ale’s done things on her account like “#LibrarianFightClub.” Maybe we can have a fight club one episode.

A: We gotta bring somebody who doesn’t agree with us.

K: Absolutely but we can find that person it’s not a problem, somebody else from the bookclub.

C:Definitely and if any of you listening want to hear about a certain topic or what to hear us talk about a certain book you can always reach out to us as well and we’d be happy to take that into consideration.

25:49 K: So with that I think we’re gonna wrap up our introduction episode and we want to thank you for joining us on the very first episode of The Picture Bookstagang Podcast.  You can follow us on Instagram on @picturebookstagang and be sure to subscribe to the podcast on Apple, Google, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts and be sure to drop us a note and let us know, what are you reading today?

Outro, jazzy jazzy music.

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