144 episodes

Scholastic's podcast about the joy and power of reading, the books we publish for children and young adults, and the authors, editors, and stories behind them. We’ll explore topics important to parents, educators, and the reader in all of us.

Scholastic Reads Scholastic Inc.

    • Education
    • 4.6 • 49 Ratings

Scholastic's podcast about the joy and power of reading, the books we publish for children and young adults, and the authors, editors, and stories behind them. We’ll explore topics important to parents, educators, and the reader in all of us.

    I Kick and I Fly: A Conversation With Author and Activist Ruchira Gupta

    I Kick and I Fly: A Conversation With Author and Activist Ruchira Gupta

    During Women’s History Month, we celebrate women who paved the way in a range of fields—from politics and the law to aviation and technology. In this episode, host Suzanne McCabe talks with Ruchira Gupta, a journalist, author, and activist who is ensuring a future for girls who otherwise might not have one. Ruchira has worked tirelessly to help girls in India, Nepal, and other countries escape the brutal world of child sex trafficking. She is the co-founder of Apne Aap, a non-governmental organization (NGO) that empowers women and girls to escape the vicious cycle of prostitution.

    Ruchira’s work with vulnerable women and girls inspired her new novel for young adults. It’s called I Kick and I Fly. The story introduces readers to 14-year-old Heera, who is growing up in a red-light district in India. Heera escapes being sold into the sex trade when a local activist teaches her kung fu and helps her understand the value of her body. As Gloria Steinem says, I Kick and I Fly is a book “that could save lives.”

    Ruchira is also a visiting professor at New York University. Her documentary about sex trafficking in India and Nepal, The Selling of Innocents, won an Emmy Award in 1996 for outstanding investigative journalism. She holds a Doctor of Humane Letters from Smith College.

    → Resources
    Meet Ruchira Gupta: Learn more about the author, artist, and activist, who divides her time between New York and Forbesganj, her childhood home in the foothills of the Himalayas.

    Apne Aap: The NGO that Ruchira co-founded works to end sex trafficking by preventing intergenerational prostitution.

    I Kick and I Fly: Order the new YA novel by Ruchira Gupta.

    Celebrating Courageous Women: Check out these biographies for young people from Scholastic.

    → Highlights

    Ruchira Gupta, author, I Kick and I Fly

    “I Kick and I Fly is about a young girl who's only 14 years old, and she’s born in a nomadic tribe in India. She’s about to be sold into prostitution until a woman’s right advocate enrolls her in a kung fu program. Through the practice of kung fu, she discovers the power of her body, and fights for it.”

    “I've been running an NGO called Apne Aap, which means self-action in Hindi. The NGO works amongst nomadic tribes which are marginalized, so marginalized that prostitution is passed on from mother to daughter, and pimping from father to son.”

    “I was a journalist, and I was walking through the hills of Nepal, when I came across rows of villages with missing girls. I decided that I wanted to find out more, so I began to ask the men drinking tea and playing cards where the girls were. And the answer changed my life. They told me that they were in Bombay. Now, Bombay was nearly 1,400 kilometers away, and these villages were in remote Himalayan hamlets…. I followed the story, and I ended up in the brothels of Bombay. I saw little girls as young as 13 and 14 locked up in tiny rooms for years.”

    “I went on to win an Emmy for outstanding investigative journalism. And when I was on stage in the Broadway Marquis Hotel, and everyone was clapping, and there were the bright lights, all I could see were the eyes of the women in the brothels of Bombay who had spoken out in my documentary, because they said they wanted to save their daughters.”

    “Behind the story of me being a journalist was that I used to love reading books as a child. And librarians were some of the most important people in my life. My mother enrolled me as a 10-year-old in a library. These librarians would tell me, ‘Take this book, take that book,’ so I lived in the world of stories. I became a free thinker because of the stories I read, because of the family I grew up in, which encouraged ideas, but also the books that I read.”

    “I saw the mothers who were scared to come to our meetings slowly challenge the men who would say, ‘We’ll bury you alive,’ ‘We'll cut your head off,’ et cetera. And they would still walk fr

    • 24 min
    Dreamer: Akim Aliu Talks About His New Graphic Novel and Racism in the Hockey World

    Dreamer: Akim Aliu Talks About His New Graphic Novel and Racism in the Hockey World

    When Akim Aliu was a young boy, he and his family moved to Canada. His parents wanted a better life for their two sons. Akim’s father is Nigerian, and his mother Ukrainian. Whether they lived in Ukraine, Nigeria, or Canada, the family faced discrimination and bigotry.

    Things didn’t improve when Akim developed a love of ice hockey. Money was tight, and the sport wasn’t welcoming to children of color. Still, Akim’s parents did everything they could to help him follow his dreams.

    Akim made it all the way to the National Hockey League. But he faced systemic racism at every level of the game. He’s now speaking out in the hope that a new generation of young athletes won’t have to endure the brutality he did.

    In this Black History Month episode, Akim talks with host Suzanne McCabe about Dreamer, his new graphic memoir for 8- to 12-year-olds. Co-authored by Greg Anderson Elysée, the book is illustrated by Karen De La Vega and Marcus Williams, and published by Scholastic Graphix and Kaepernick Publishing.

    Akim also founded the Time to Dream Foundation and is co-chairman of the Hockey Diversity Alliance, where he continues his mission of broadening access and eradicating racism in youth sports.

    → Resources

    Dreamer: Akim’s graphic memoir for 8- to 12-year-olds is co-authored by Greg Anderson Elysée and illustrated by Karen De La Vega and Marcus Williams.

    Hockey Diversity Alliance: Find out how the organization that Akim co-founded is changing the face of hockey.

    Racism in the NHL: As this New York Times article explains, Akim publicly addressed racism in the hockey world in 2020.

    35 Books for Black History Month: These titles for grades K-12 celebrate individuals whose contributions have changed the world.

    → Highlights

    Akim Aliu, co-author, Dreamer

    “The whole goal around doing this book was to inspire the next generation of kids who look like me, Black and Brown kids, but also at the same time, the kids who are socio-economically disadvantaged. My story is one that had a lot of trials and tribulations, but I also learned a lot through my journey.”

    “It’s a book to inspire people who are going through tough times, to know that anything is possible. I’m a kid who was born in Africa who ended up making it to the NHL.”

    “Hockey . . . is my passion, and it’s my love. I’m glad I got those $10 pair of skates, because they gave me an opportunity to be where I am today.”

    “Starting at such an early age, at 11, 12 years old, and hearing the N-word being hurled at you, and not being able to do anything about it…. The hardest thing about it was just never, ever playing with anybody else who looked like me.”

    “In my 12 years that I played professionally, I played with one other player of color…. There’s not really anybody to turn to that you can have a conversation with, that would understand what you’re going through.”

    “There are a lot of kids who look like me and come from the areas that I come from that also deserve an opportunity and deserve not to be excluded from our game.”

    “For me, dreaming and faith go hand in hand because . . . it’s believing in something that you can’t yet see.”

    “I hope kids don’t give up on their dreams.”

    → Special Thanks

    Producer: Constance Gibbs
    Sound engineer: Daniel Jordan
    Music composer: Lucas Elliot Eberl

    → Coming Soon
    Ruchira Gupta: I Kick and I Fly

    Brian Selznick: Big Tree

    • 22 min
    Owl Diaries: Rebecca Elliott on Reading Aloud and Eva the Owlet

    Owl Diaries: Rebecca Elliott on Reading Aloud and Eva the Owlet

    If you haven’t met Eva the Owlet, you’re in for a treat. She’s headed to Apple TV+ for her own animated series, which debuts on March 31.

    Eva is the adorable narrator of Owl Diaries, a New York Times bestselling book series by author and illustrator Rebecca Elliott. In this episode, Rebecca talks with host Suzanne McCabe about the runaway success of Owl Diaries and Eva the Owlet, the upcoming adaptation from Apple TV+.

    Rebecca will be participating in this year’s World Read Aloud Day, which takes place on February 1. For the past 13 years, World Read Aloud Day has called attention to the importance of sharing stories by challenging participants to grab a book, find an audience, and read aloud. The global effort, created by the nonprofit Lit World and sponsored by Scholastic, is celebrated annually in more than 173 countries.

    This year, for the first time, there will be a live read-a-thon featuring Rebecca and several other favorite Scholastic authors, including Dav Pilkey and Brian Selznick. “Many studies have shown the educational benefits of children reading aloud,” Rebecca says. “But that’s not the main reason you should read aloud. The main reason is it’s fun, and it’s about sharing stories. To be human is to want to share stories.”

    → Resources
    Rebecca Elliott: Learn more about the best-selling author.

    Eva the Owlet: The spirited narrator of Owl Diaries gets her own animated show.

    World Read Aloud Day: Download the “WRAD-a-thon” schedule and instructions.

    100 Best Read-Aloud Books: Check out this list of favorite read-alouds for young readers.

    → Highlights
    Rebecca Elliott, author, Owl Diaries
    “Eva Wingdale—she’s a creative and adventurous owlet, and she lives in Treetopolis next to her best friend, Lucy…. She’s got a little brother and an older brother who can be a bit of a pain sometimes, and her parents. She goes to Treetop Owlementary School with her friends. She just gets up to lots of adventures.”
    “Owls obviously are all around us. In fact, I can hear owls most nights here. But you rarely ever see them, so you can almost imagine that owls have a secret world, where they do go to school, and they do speak to each other on their Pinecone phones.”

    “Kids will smell a moral a mile off. [But] if you can impart some sort of tiny life lessons in a fun way, then why not.”

    “I wrote the kind of book that I would have wanted to read when I was eight or nine. Maybe that’s why it worked…. I was obsessed with animals and nature, but also, of course, being that age, obsessed with my friends, my family. I loved starting clubs.”

    “Eva is always starting clubs, too. Family and friends should always be the most important thing at that age. It’s everything. But if you can get in some fantastical adventure—of course, the main characters fly. They’re like superheroes.”

    “Every chapter ends on some sort of cliffhanger, so it makes [readers] want to pick up the book the next time.”

    “I hear from lots and lots of parents, [saying], ‘My child has learning difficulties. My child has dyslexia. Or my child is a reluctant reader. And it was Owl Diaries that got them reading every night, and now we look forward to story time.’”

    “Eva the Owlet, based on the Owl Diaries series, will be released on Friday, March 31, in over 100 countries. I have seen a tiny bit of it, and it’s just amazing how they’ve brought my illustrations to life. It’s 3-D. It’s beautiful. It’s funny. It’s fun. It’s fast-paced. It’s cute as anything, and they still got the diary-writing element in. Obviously, I like it because it’s based on my books, but it’s such a classy show. The girl who voices Eva is just an incredible talent.”

    “Many studies have shown the educational benefits of children reading aloud—vocabulary, comprehension, understanding what they’re reading, and confidence in their own voice. Reading aloud just affirms the

    • 21 min
    The Tower of Life: Remembering the Holocaust

    The Tower of Life: Remembering the Holocaust

    In 1941, when Yaffa Eliach was six years old, German troops invaded her town in what was then Poland. Most of the Jewish population was rounded up and murdered. Within two days, 900 years of history was sundered. But Yaffa and her family managed to escape. After the war, Yaffa settled in the United States, where she earned a PhD, writing and telling stories about the Holocaust.

    Yaffa is the subject of a new picture book by Chana Stiefel. Illustrated by Susan Gal, the book is called The Tower of Life: How Yaffa Eliach Rebuilt Her Town in Stories and Photographs.

    Chana is the award-winning author of more than 30 books for children. In this episode, she talks with host Suzanne McCabe about Yaffa’s remarkable story, The Tower of Life, and why it’s so important for young people to learn about the Holocaust.

    → Resources
    Chana Stiefel: Includes a teaching guide for The Tower of Life and summaries of other books by the award-winning author.

    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: Learn more about Yaffa Eliach’s “Tower of Faces,” and get resources for observing International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27.

    → Highlights
    Chana Stiefel, author, The Tower of Life
    “Yaffa was born in a shtetl called Eishyshok, which was then part of Poland and now Lithuania. She was born in 1935. When the Nazis invaded, the Jews were rounded up into the synagogue. Her father had told the family to hide.”

    “Two of Yaffa’s grandmothers, not just her mother, worked. One of them sold candles at the local market, and the other was the town photographer. Yaffa's grandfather had visited America in the 1920s, and he came home with this new invention, a camera, and they started a business above the family pharmacy. Everyone would come to have their photo taken. People would send New Year's cards, Rosh Hashanah cards, to their families who had left Eishyshok.”

    “When Yaffa fled, she had the sense to tuck some of those photos into her shoes. She held onto them throughout the war, and that definitely played a role in the incredible exhibit she later created.”

    “The focus of my book is not so much the war, but the life before the war and the rebuilding afterward, and how Yaffa rebuilt her town.”

    “I learned from Yaffa's daughter, Smadar Rosensweig, who is also a professor, that her mother was a groundbreaking teacher and she wanted to teach. She wanted to create a curriculum about the Holocaust. But after the war, many survivors didn't even want to talk about their history, and she felt it was so important. She realized that a lot of the history that was being taught was from the Nazi perspective, and she wanted to change that.”

    “She encouraged Holocaust survivors to tell their stories, and she began documenting them. And that was groundbreaking work. No one had done that at that point.”

    “In 1979, President Jimmy Carter wanted to build a memorial to the victims of the Holocaust in Washington, D.C., and he asked Yaffa to help build a memorial. She didn't want to focus on death and dying and destruction. She wanted to focus on the lives that were lived and the beautiful lives of the people from her town. She remembered the photos she had tucked in her shoes, and she thought, well, other people must have photos, too.”

    “She traveled for 17 years, to six continents, to nearly all 50 United States, and she collected 6,000 photographs, and she built this “Tower of Life,” which has over a thousand photographs in it.”

    “Yaffa wanted people to see themselves in these photographs. That, essentially, was her mission. And you do, you connect, because here you are seeing people celebrating with their families, having weddings, playing outdoors, the picture of Yaffa feeding the chickens, hugging each other. And it’s very relatable. And you realize the tragic endings for many or most of these people all around her.”

    “One thing that really was gripping to [illustrator Susan Gal] was that

    • 27 min
    The Power of Mentoring

    The Power of Mentoring

    How can individual members of a community help children flourish in the classroom? One way is through mentoring. Scholastic’s nationwide mentorship program helps students boost their literacy skills while creating meaningful bonds with caring individuals. Our read-aloud mentoring program, which comes with books and teaching guides, is called R.E.A.L. — READ, EXCEL, ACHIEVE, and LEAD.

    In this episode, in honor of National Mentoring Month, educator Christian Adair tells host Suzanne McCabe how the R.E.A.L. program has enhanced learning and community engagement in his Kentucky school district. “You want to be very thoughtful and purposeful when you engage the community,” he says. “You need to start creating a relationship before you ask [a potential mentor] to do something. You need to acknowledge their existence. You need to acknowledge that they’re worthy, and they’re wanted.”

    Christian is the founder and director of Alpha League, a mentoring and leadership organization focused on underserved and marginalized boys and young men. He currently leads mentoring initiatives in the Fayette County Public Schools.

    → Resources
    R.E.A.L.: Learn more about Scholastic’s read-aloud mentoring program.

    Bridging the gap between the community and the classroom: Educator Christian Adair discusses the power of mentoring.

    → Highlights
    Christian Adair, educator and mentor, Fayette County Public Schools
    “We have over 185 languages in our city of Lexington, and over 94 languages in our school system. Spanish is the second most spoken language…. Because of that, we wanted to be more inclusive and diverse in our literature, bringing in readers and volunteers to interact with our students.”

    “We wanted our kids to have books with characters that looked like them. And we wanted students to have books with characters that didn't look like them.”

    “We wanted our African American students to see men of color reading. But we realized that it was just as important for our teachers to see men of color reading. It was just as important as for our White female students to see men of color reading.”

    “The students were benefiting, but I think the [mentors] benefited just as much if not more because they became educators, in a sense. They were connecting to our students, and they found themselves in that.”

    “The books were reflective of our students, and that’s probably one of the most exciting things, when kids open up a book and say, ‘Wow, that’s me in that book.’”

    “This program isn’t just about reading. This program is about the connection and the fact that I was there. I showed that I cared…. That’s when I realized I had to go get more men, especially men of color, to come in and read.”

    “We were thinking literacy, literacy, literacy. But social emotional learning also took place…. We know that when you build family and community engagement, you build relationships with your students, and you’re able to reach them and educate them better.”

    “One of the first books I actually read from cover to cover was about Malcolm X, and that wasn't until high school. I am 50 years old, so I didn't have that connection [before]. And the reading wasn't that fun. When I did read, it was a Sports Illustrated, it was about sports . . . because that’s what I was shown. That's what I thought I was supposed to be. And I didn't see the books about all the amazing accomplishments of African Americans to this country, not just to the African American community, but all the contributions that African Americans have made for everyone to do better in the United States.”

    “We got to say that 56,000 books went home. We had over 500 new volunteers. We had over 150 men of color volunteering. We had over 50 businesses and organizations volunteering and competing to be in our schools.”

    “Historically, men of color haven't felt very welcome in the schools. We haven't felt welcome because

    • 28 min
    If You Lived During the Plimouth Thanksgiving Revisited

    If You Lived During the Plimouth Thanksgiving Revisited

    The arrival of the Mayflower in Plimouth in 1620, and the Pilgrims’ feast with Wampanoag Indians a year later, are recalled each November when we celebrate Thanksgiving. But what actually happened at that three-day feast, and how did the narrative change over time?

    In 2021, host Suzanne McCabe posed those questions to Chris Newell, an award-winning educator and author, and a proud citizen of the Passamaquoddy tribe in Maine. In this episode, Chris returns to talk about Native American Heritage Month and what it means to him.

    Later, listeners can hear the original conversation about Chris’s acclaimed book for children, If You Lived During the Plimouth Thanksgiving. With help from Wampanoag scholar Linda Coombs, Chris offers young readers a fuller understanding of how we came to celebrate Thanksgiving in the United States, as well as the toll that colonization took on Indian tribes. In the discussion, Chris and Suzanne were joined by Katie Heit, a senior editor at Scholastic and the editor of the What If book series.

    → Resources
    In 2021, Smithsonian Voices spotlighted If You Lived During the Plimouth Thanksgiving.

    If You Lived During the Plimouth Thanksgiving is available from Scholastic and Amazon.

    In this Nation article, author Rebecca Nagle explains what’s at stake in Haaland v. Brackeen, a case before the Supreme Court that threatens to overturn the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978.

    → Highlights
    Chris Newell, author, If You Lived During the Plimouth Thanksgiving:
    “English is a foreign language. Our languages are actually the original languages of this landscape.”

    “When we teach about Native peoples . . . we start in the present to make sure people understand that these cultures are still here. They are still valid, and they are still just as valuable to the future of this country as they were during colonization.”

    “The biggest issue we’re facing right now is a challenge to the Indian Child Welfare Act. This particular case before the Supreme Court is a big deal for all tribes in the United States because it could affect the way the U.S. looks at the sovereignty of our nations.”

    “What we call Thanksgiving today didn't exist necessarily in the seventeenth century, and you learn that in the book…. I give people a more real picture of how our country actually came to be. There is some good, but there’s also a lot of bad and ugly.”

    “It’s about looking at these histories, being critical of them as human beings, and saying where things went wrong so that we can learn from them and create a better collective future for all of us.”

    “I wanted to make sure that in the book the Wampanoag people were being centered within their own historical narrative. That involves including the complexity of life before 1620.”

    “The 1621 feast . . . became a seminal moment of the creation of the country. And it’s a very beautiful feast of Native people and colonists getting together. But as much as we have lionized and lauded the story in history, it was so unremarkable to the English that they actually only wrote a paragraph about it.”

    It wasn't until President Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Proclamation that Thanksgiving was regularly commemorated each year. “The [Civil War] still raging. The North was winning. Abraham Lincoln was in charge of the Union Army, and they were thinking, ‘What do we do after the war is over? The Southern states are going to still be part of this country. How do we bring all these people together?’ There was a lot of pressure on Abraham Lincoln to find a way to heal from the bloodiest war on this landscape ever.”

    → Special Thanks
    Producer: Bridget Benjamin
    Associate producer: Constance Gibbs
    Sound engineer: Daniel Jordan
    Music composer: Lucas Elliot Eberl

    → Coming Soon
    Dr. Karen Mapp on Family-School Partnerships

    • 35 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
49 Ratings

49 Ratings

ccaajj ,

Scholastic Reads

The host and her guests have great conversations about books and reading.

Ordinary FB user ,

Scholastic Reads

Great conversations about books for kids and getting kids to read! Love the mix of personalities.

brittfaye ,

LOVE this podcast

From the secrets of Harry Potter to the importance of literacy, this podcast covers the best of the book world. I love it and would definitely recommend to anyone, not just educators. Bonus: Suzanne McCabe's voice is mesmerizing!

Top Podcasts In Education

Leo Skepi
Mel Robbins
Dr. Jordan B. Peterson
Brianne Helfrich
Brandon Turner

You Might Also Like

Travis Jonker and Colby Sharp
Kendra, The Lazy Genius
Jennifer Gonzalez
Not Sorry Productions
Glennon Doyle & Cadence13
Gretchen Rubin / The Onward Project