38 episodes

A family podcast about classic children’s books and the impact they have on us long into adulthood. In each episode, we talk about one popular children's book from the past, uncovering the unique story behind the story. While sitting down with famous, award-winning authors, we investigate the timeless themes in kids’ books.

Remember Reading Podcast HarperCollins Publishers

    • Arts
    • 4.8 • 118 Ratings

A family podcast about classic children’s books and the impact they have on us long into adulthood. In each episode, we talk about one popular children's book from the past, uncovering the unique story behind the story. While sitting down with famous, award-winning authors, we investigate the timeless themes in kids’ books.

    The Polar Express: A Magical Ride of Belief and Reality (ft. Chris Van Allsburg & Leo Landry)

    The Polar Express: A Magical Ride of Belief and Reality (ft. Chris Van Allsburg & Leo Landry)

    Do you remember reading The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg? As its 40th anniversary approaches, the book is nothing short of a Christmas classic. Before winning the Caldecott Medal in 1986, before the animated movie, and the Polar Express train rides Chris Van Allsburg had already garnered quite a reputation. He’s the author and illustrator behind The Garden of Abdul Gasazi, Jumanji, Zathura, and many others.

    In this episode, Chris Van Allsburg and Leo Landry discuss the moody illustrations and profound coming-of-age story that has fascinated holiday readers year after year since 1985.

    To learn more about Chris Van Allsburg’s, or Leo Landry’s books, visit
    https://www.harpercollins.com/search?q=chris+van+allsburg
    https://www.harpercollins.com/search?q=leo+landry

    Do you have a story about how a classic book changed your life? Tweet @readingpod or email us at readingpod@harpercollins.com. Learn more at rememberreading.com. And, leave us a review on Apple Podcasts.


    [1:59] The illustrations in The Polar Express were intentionally dark and moody to balance out the story’s Christmas cheer.

    [11:48] Chris says his books are about a rite of passage as much as they are about magic.

    [23:40] The Polar Express was Chris’ third book adapted into a feature film, but the first using motion-capture technology.

    [30:18] Reigniting Santa Claus’s Christmas spirit is a lesser-known backstory of The Polar Express.

    Continue Your Journey:
    Polar Express
    HarperCollins
    Remember Reading Podcast
    @ReadingPod on Twitter

    Shareables:

    “There are decisions that you make as an illustrator that are stylistic considerations that have to do with what you think the emotional tone of the book is. So there was some intention in using this deeper palette.” — Chris Van Allsburg, author and illustrator of The Polar Express

    “It's a coming-of-age story because there's a point in our lives where we must become rational human beings because it's very difficult to function as adults if you live in a world of make-believe.” — Chris Van Allsburg, author and illustrator of The Polar Express

    “This was the first, you know, ambitious use of motion capture and to see Tom Hanks climb out of a train and to see that this was not reality, but really close to it. I said this is great.” — Chris Van Allsburg, author and illustrator of The Polar Express

    “Like a lot of his [Chris Van Allburg] books, they have a little bit of tension in all of the artwork that is a little bit like you just don’t know what is going to happen when you turn the page. Even though it is seemingly like a nice Christmas story. ” — Leo Landry, author, illustrator, and bookseller

    “There was that annual anticipation of his [Chris Van Allburg] new book — and what would it be? His art just had a really different quality than a lot of illustration that was out there at that time. And that combined with a Christmas story, his unusual perspectives, his lighting in his artwork — the shadow and the light — every spread was just so beautifully composed.” — Leo Landry, author, illustrator, and bookseller

    “Sometimes I just wonder how can someone not already have this book, but then every year we sell another 25 +, 30‒40 copies. So that's really impressive to me because there are very few books where that happens, and this is definitely one of them.“ — Leo Landry, author, illustrator, and bookseller

    • 35 min
    Grandfather’s Journey: 30th Anniversary of a Real-Life Folktale (ft. Allen Say & Melissa Iwai)

    Grandfather’s Journey: 30th Anniversary of a Real-Life Folktale (ft. Allen Say & Melissa Iwai)

    There are many ways that we build our histories. Certain particulars might be largely out of our power, our parentage, or parts of our personalities, but how we choose to remember our histories tends to create something real and true, however fictional, like an old folktale. Our histories, whether real or imagined, memory or fiction, give us a greater understanding of who we are and our place in the world.

    In this episode, Melissa Iwai joins Allen Say to celebrate the 30th anniversary of his classic, Grandfather’s Journey. In the last couple of decades, children's literature in the U.S. has become increasingly populated with diverse characters, authors, and illustrators. But 30 years ago, Allen was making diverse characters and stories when few authors and illustrators were. The broadened representation in children’s literature we see today is owed to artists like Allen and Melissa.

    To learn more about Allen Say’s, or Melissa Iwai’s books, visit https://www.harpercollins.com/search?q=allen+say
    https://www.harpercollins.com/search?q=melissa+iwai

    Do you have a story about how a classic book changed your life? Tweet @readingpod or email us at readingpod@harpercollins.com. Learn more at rememberreading.com. And, leave us a review on Apple Podcasts.

    [1:26] Allen reflects on Grandfather’s Journey as a timeless, real-life story reminiscent of a folktale.

    [6:54] Allen’s sense of outsiderness is the thread that creates a deep connection for Melissa.

    [11:18] Melissa’s book, Gigi and Ojiji, was inspired by a childhood memory of a visit with her Japanese grandfather.

    [13:42] Allen shares his journey, as both author and artist.

    [25:38] Authors use illustrations for different purposes, as Melissa learned working on Marc Tyler Nobleman’s Thirty Minutes Over Oregon.

    [30:11] What the ending of Kozo the Sparrow means to Allen.

    [35:07] Allen shares his thoughts about memories and distinguishing fact from fiction.

    Continue Your Journey:
    Melissa Iwai
    HarperCollins
    Remember Reading Podcast
    @ReadingPod on Twitter

    Shareables:

    “I didn’t think that the book would sell at all when I was working on it. It was something I simply had to do. I had given up my long career, a 25-year career in photography and I just painted a picture. I realized that I'm really a painter, which I have been in denial of most of my adult, young-adult life because I got tired of poverty.” — Allen Say, author of Grandfather’s Journey

    “I thought I was following the old Japanese tradition of a young boy going out into the world looking for a master… but that's not what I was doing… I was actually trying to replace my father with a man that I could admire and love, and I was lucky.” — Allen Say, author of Grandfather’s Journey

    “Drawing it is a different thing. It’s coming straight out of your head, from your dream life. And, I find a story there.” — Allen Say, author of Grandfather’s Journey

    “I have a hard time distinguishing between fiction and real life, to begin with. As I always had difficulty distinguishing my dream life from waking life. I much rather prefer to be in the fantasy world, of course.“ — Allen Say, author of Grandfather’s Journey

    “Books were a refuge for me because I was shy and quiet and I loved to read. But even in my childhood books, I don’t remember having any books with Asian-American characters in them.” — Melissa Iwai, author of Gigi, and Ojiji

    “I was raised in just a small town where there weren't very many Asian Americans at the time and I just always felt like I stood out and I was different.” — Melissa Iwai, author of Gigi, and Ojiji

    “I think it's very important for kids to feel seen and I want to create the kind of books that I would have loved when I was a kid.”— Melissa Iwai, author of Gigi, and Ojiji

    • 40 min
    When Heroines, Not Heroes, Tell the Story (ft. Veronica Roth & Mindy McGinnis)

    When Heroines, Not Heroes, Tell the Story (ft. Veronica Roth & Mindy McGinnis)

    Fictional dystopias don’t create fear as much as they validate it. And isn’t that what we want as young people and even later as adults? To be validated, whether in our fears, our pain, or our happiness? Young Adult books let us explore, without the threat of rejection, what we most wish to understand or even accept, ourselves.

    In this episode, we explore a new era of female protagonists and the dystopian world in which they exist. Authors Veronica Roth and Mindy McGinnis create stories that challenge the conventional role of young female characters in YA literature and set forth to expose how heroines see the world.

    To learn more about Veronica Roth’s, or Mindy McGinnis’ books, visit harpercollins.com/blogs/authors/veronica-roth
    harpercollins.com/blogs/authors/mindy-mcginnis

    Do you have a story about how a classic book changed your life? Tweet @readingpod or email us at readingpod@harpercollins.com. Learn more at rememberreading.com. And, leave us a review on Apple Podcasts.

    [1:23] Veronica’s love of quizzes, tests, and categories inspired her to create a world of factions in Divergent.

    [3:32] Growing up in the ’80s, Mindy remembers the influence Divergent had on her life.


    [6:41] Exposure therapy was the driving force behind Veronica’s creation of Divergent’s fear-based virtual realities, as she explains.

    [10:59] Mindy shares the fear that is the basis of her book, Not A Drop to Drink.

    [13:41] Veronica included an intentional romance in her book to push back against a particular romantic cliché. Mindy took a different approach.

    [17:10] Mindy fires back at critics who find Young Adult books too dark.

    [19:51] In Mindy’s A Long Stretch of Bad Days, the female protagonist is not afraid to make other people uncomfortable.

    Shareables:

    “Nobody’s done coming of age. That’s not a thing. That’s why adults end up wanting to read YA because there’s part of you that's always in high school.” — Mindy McGinnis, author of Not a Drop to Drink

    “Even if you are growing up like perfectly kind of safe and contained, books are safe places to explore the darkness in the world.” — Mindy McGinnis, author of Not a Drop to Drink

    “I do think it’s changing. It’s a lot different than it used to be as far as just letting the inner lives of young women be important and significant.” — Veronica Roth, author of Divergent

    “The Female of the Species, in particular, is a book that is about rape culture and I definitely wrote it as a validation of women’s rage.” — Mindy McGinnis, Author

    “When you hear that you've done something right, not that there’s one way to do it right, but that you connected with someone who has a personal experience of those harder things in life, it becomes really emotional. It’s really good.“ — Veronica Roth, author of Divergent

    • 28 min
    In The Night Kitchen (ft. Sergio Ruzzier & Antionette Portis)

    In The Night Kitchen (ft. Sergio Ruzzier & Antionette Portis)

    You may be familiar with Maurice Sendak’s books like Where the Wild Things Are or Outside Over There, but do you remember reading In the Night Kitchen? Just over 10 years after the prolific author's passing, we are returning to his 1970s dreamscape of a picture book. In the Night Kitchen offers a dazzling portrait of creativity and the expansive imaginations of children contending with an adult world.

    In this episode, besides stirring about in the needless controversy that often surrounds Maurice Sendak’s classic, In the Night Kitchen, we talk with two picture book authors influenced by the master author and illustrator’s work. Author and Illustrator, Sergio Ruzzier describes the influence Sendak had on his career and books, including Fish and Sun and Fish and Wave. And Author and Illustrator, Antionette Portis, reflects on the revelatory impact of Sendak’s books on children’s literature, the human experience, and her own books, Not A Box, Not a Stick, and A Penguin’s Story.

    To learn more about Maurice Sendak, Sergio Ruzzier, or Antionette Portis’ books, visit harpercollins.com/blogs/authors/maurice-sendak
    harpercollins.com/blogs/authors/sergio-ruzzier
    harpercollins.com/blogs/authors/antionette-portis

    Do you have a story about how a classic book changed your life? Tweet @readingpod or email us at readingpod@harpercollins.com. Learn more at rememberreading.com. And, leave us a review on Apple Podcasts.

    [1:01] Sergio and Antionette identify the fragments of American culture floating through Sendak’s In the Night Kitchen.

    [4:38] Still a point of contention, when In the Kitchen was released controversy erupted in the U.S. due to the main character, Mickey’s nudity.

    [7:34] Sergio’s fourth-grade drawing of a monster had a similar censorship issue when it was included in a Jon Scieszka compilation.

    [8:21] Antionette reminds us that Sendak felt insulted when people referred to his work as kiddie books.

    [8:59] Like most adults and children, Sergio deeply felt the emotional complexities of Sendak’s words and pictures. As a visual storyteller, he was later invited to join the Sendak Fellowship.

    [12:18] Antionette was also invited to be a part of the Sendak Fellowship’s inaugural class in 2010. She describes the experience.

    [12:57] Antionette’s books, Not a Box and Not a Stick are a celebration of the imaginative lives of children.

    [17:23] Sergio’s Fish and Sun, Fish and Wave, and his third book in the series, Fish and Worm, were inspired by the narrative art of his heroes and reflect his desire to have children think for themselves.

    [22:43] Sergio was asked to lend his visually-mesmerizing illustrative abilities to Roar Like a Dandelion by the late Ruth Krauss.

    [25:05] Edna, the main character in Antionette’s A Penguin’s Story, is on a spiritual search to find meaning in the universe, metaphorically.

    [27:27] Antionette examines In the Night Kitchen looking to uncover hidden meanings baked into its dreamy joy.

    Continue Your Journey:
    Maurice Sendak
    Sergio Ruzzier
    Antionette Portis
    HarperCollins
    Remember Reading Podcast
    @ReadingPod on Twitter

    Shareables:

    “I didn't set out to cause a scandal. I set out to do a very particular work where he had to be naked in order to confront a particular dream he was in. You don’t go into a dream wearing Fruit of the Loom underwear or PJs.” — Maurice Sendak, author of In the Night Kitchen

    “You are calling for attention if you underline the thing you want to hide. It’s not going to work. It’s actually funny.” — Sergio Ruzzier, author of Fish and Sun

    “He [Sendak] really felt insulted that people called his books kiddie books. ‘Cause he’s like, I make books for humans, and if children like them that's great.” — Antionette Portis, author of Not a Box

    • 31 min
    Lessons in Friendship:James Marshall’s George and Martha Series(ft. Raúl the Third & Breanna Carzoo)

    Lessons in Friendship:James Marshall’s George and Martha Series(ft. Raúl the Third & Breanna Carzoo)

    Picture books, while they may be sparse in language, can pack in big and complex lessons about friendship, or difficult feelings. Their lessons often follow us into our adulthood. And, as for lessons, here is one for teachers — maybe hold off on telling students they can't draw. They may just grow up and turn you into an iconic mean character. If you’re really lucky though and kind and honest you just might become a superhero wrestler in training or a green light or a hippo with an incredible knack for friendship.

    In this episode, we pay homage to illustrator and author, James Marshall. His George and Martha books integrate the tension sometimes felt between friends with valuable lessons of non-judgmental communication. Author of the World of Vamos! Books, Raúl the Third discusses the value of illustrations in books to help the story. And, Breanna Carzoo, author of Lou and Greenlight, explores how characters, even inanimate ones, respond to conflict and self-doubt.

    To learn more about James Marshall, Raúl the Third, or Breanna Carzoo’s books, visit harpercollins.com/blogs/authors/james-marshall
    harpercollins.com/blogs/authors/ral-the-third
    harpercollins.com/blogs/authors/breanna-carzoo

    Do you have a story about how a classic book changed your life? Tweet @readingpod or email us at readingpod@harpercollins.com. Learn more at rememberreading.com. And, leave us a review on Apple Podcasts.

    [:25] In a recorded interview from 1987, Jim reflects on his birthplace, San Antonio, Texas, and how he weaves some memory of it into all of his stories.

    [1:15] Raúl the Third, author of the World of Vamos! books shares an unforgettable moment from The Box from George and Martha Back in Town.

    [3:45] Breanna Carzoo, author of Lou, appreciates the George and Martha books because of the beautiful and honest depiction of friendship they depict.

    [5:10] In his own words, Jim shares the origin of the idea that George has had it with Martha’s split pea soup.

    [6:20] Breanna shares the unlikely inspiration behind her book, Lou, and offers a glimpse into how she uses negative space to create movement in a scene.

    [8:48] Raúl’s love of larger-than-life characters inspired him to use Luchadores as characters in his soon-to-be-released book, Tacos Today.

    [10:49] Raúl reveals his passion for the various approaches cartoonists take to tell a story through drawings, even if his art teachers weren’t impressed.

    [15:43] The teachers in James Marshall’s books, Viola Swamp, and Miss Nelson, are polar opposites of each other.

    [19:20] Reflecting on her childhood, Breanna uses humor to offset Lou’s otherwise shameful and deeply depressing existence.

    [22:55] Both Jim and Raúl share the significance of the never-changing, summertime landscape of Texas as the backdrop of many of their books.

    [25:54] In her new book, Greenlight, Breanna explores our need for the approval of others and the big feelings that expose themselves when we feel rejected.

    [27:24] The friendship between George and Martha in Jim’s books is realistic, sometimes tense, and always truthful.

    Continue Your Journey:
    James Marshall
    Raúl the Third
    Breanna Carzoo
    HarperCollins
    Remember Reading Podcast
    @ReadingPod on Twitter

    • 35 min
    Hauntingly Good Stories: Wait Till Helen Comes(ft. Mary Downing Hahn, Chantel Acevedo, & J.A. White)

    Hauntingly Good Stories: Wait Till Helen Comes(ft. Mary Downing Hahn, Chantel Acevedo, & J.A. White)

    There is much to be learned from stories, whether they feature ghosts, witches, or monsters, even when they scare us. It is the lessons learned in the face of darkness that make supernatural stories important for young readers. And, it is telling, that stories of ghosts and graveyards stay with us. They might cause us a bit of grief, but when we face them, we face ourselves, our fears, and our histories, and in confronting them we learn collaboration, problem-solving, empathy, and companionship.

    In this episode, we dredge up some Halloween spirit and examine our favorite graveyards and the ghosts that haunt them. J.A. White and Chantel Acevedo join the Queen of Tween Screams, Mary Downing Hahn to appreciate her supernatural classic, Wait Till Helen Comes. A self-proclaimed scaredy cat, Mary shares how the dysfunction of the family at the center of her book served to create an opening for a ghost to entice itself into a renewed existence. Mary, J.A., and Chantel unearth the dark secrets and histories of villains and ghastly beings to help readers understand that whatever haunts their nightmares just may hold an important lesson.

    To learn more about Mary Downing Hahn’s, J.A. White’s, or Chantel Acevedo’s books, visit harpercollins.com/blogs/authors/mary-downing-hahn
    harpercollins.com/blogs/authors/j-a-white
    harpercollins.com/blogs/authors/chantel-acevedo

    Do you have a story about how a classic book changed your life? Tweet @readingpod or email us at readingpod@harpercollins.com. Learn more at rememberreading.com. And, leave us a review on Apple Podcasts.

    [1:58] Mary shares the frightful churchyard revelation that became/inspired Wait Till Helen Comes.

    [4:01] Chantel reflects on how Mary succinctly portrays the complex yet simple way many children think about death.

    [6:51] J.A. White believes the supernatural elements of Wait Till Helen Comes only add to the existing tension of the underlying family drama.

    [7:38] Mary shares how writing about a blended family adds conflict and makes her story relatable to young readers.

    [11:34] In The Curse of Spectacle Key, Chantel’s young characters are encouraged to feel free from the pressures of growing up and that loving and being loved is enough.

    [16:30] J.A. White loves the idea of budding young authors identifying with the plight of Alex from Nightbooks, and Gravebooks.

    [19:46] In their books, Mary, Chantel, and J.A. all explore the lurking pasts of their villains and how that history shapes their fears and actions.

    [21:21] In The Curse at Spectacle Key, the main character Frank has a mission to break the curse of the island and expose the hidden history of orphaned ghosts.

    [25:27] Mary recalls the many different responses she has received about Wait Till Helen Comes from 1986 when supernatural books were a point of debate.

    Continue Your Journey:
    JA White Books
    Chantel Acevedo
    HarperCollins
    Remember Reading Podcast
    @ReadingPod on Twitter

    Shareables:

    “It speaks about death in ways that are emotionally complex but also simple to grasp.” — Chantel Acevedo, author, The Curse on Spectacle Key

    “Sometimes I forget who I am writing for when I am caught up in writing. When I really get into the book it is almost like the story is telling itself.” — Mary Downing Hahn, author, Wait Till Helen Comes

    “She uses all these supernatural elements to augment the tension that is already there. I think that is my favorite type of supernatural story.” — J.A. White, author, Gravebooks on Mary Downing Hahn’s Wait Till Helen Comes

    “A ghost is the ultimate outsider.” — Mary Downing Hahn, author, Wait Till Helen Comes

    • 32 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
118 Ratings

118 Ratings

mspassell ,

4577545 stars!!!

Remember Reading packs so much book love into each episode. Interviews with smart people help us learn about the books we’ve loved since we were kids, and how to love them even more…and about who we are, who we were as kids. Plus the magical way people write for kids. This is one of the best book podcasts that not enough people listen to! Blow it up, book nerds!

MarieLovesToRead ,

A podcast for ME!

Finally, a podcast for me! As a child growing up in the 70’s, contemporary books were the classics from the 50’s, 60’s and before, mostly the books from my mother’s childhood. But these were the books that taught me to read and LOVE reading! I was the child that looked forward to the summer reading program...when I checked out at the library my stack of books went all the way up to my chin! And I usually had them read before the due date. But what, as an adult, I love about this podcast is not only the remembrance but the contemporary books they inspire. As a preschool teacher inspiring new readers this is especially important. Thank you for giving me validation that reading is as important today as it was when I was a child.

lhesterman ,

Listen to this wonderful kidlit podcast!

Hands down! This is my new favorite #kidlit podcast. It features classics, new works, author interviews, inspiration AND helps me build a great display! I’m so happy to see these retro reads being celebrated! Thanks SO MUCH @readingpod! 📚❤️

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