We recorded a live episode of The Reading Culture at #LibLearnX23 with the indomitable Ellen Oh, and I am so excited to share it with you!
As a kid, Ellen was bullied relentlessly. But her resilience (and some unconventional pep talks from her dad) gave Ellen the strength to fight back. And what started on the playground hasn't stopped yet. When Ellen saw a lack of diversity in children's books, she added her own Korean-American stories to bookshelves. And then she organized authors to rise up and demand recognition of diverse stories and support for those yet to come. Then came a new wave of book bans targeting books with diverse characters and stories. But Ellen (equal parts no-nonsense and hilarious) and her organization, We Need Diverse Books, are fighting back.
We recorded this session live, with a room full of librarians, during LibLearnX in New Orleans. By the time Ellen finished, I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house. In this episode, she shares things that are deeply personal to her, and also talks about her very public fight against the current spate of book bans, which she views as an “existential threat.”
For her reading challenge, Books Save Lives, Ellen crafted a list of books that feature a variety of LGBTQ+ stories, both for middle grades and young adults. Ellen believes that “books are a lifeline for kids, especially LGBTQ kids whose very existence is being threatened right now.” Books save lives, and she wants to make sure that stories from all perspectives are told and shared.
Listen to the full episode, “Eye of the Tiger: Ellen Oh on Rising Up for the Right to Read,” on Apple, Google, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. If you like what you hear, please leave a review, subscribe, and share with someone who will enjoy it.
P.S. This episode, our “featured librarians” are the people in the audience asking Ellen questions!