Newbery Award-winning author Erin Entrada Kelly (“Blackbird Fly,” “Hello, Universe,” “We Dream of Space”) was a lonely child. As an introvert battling depression and bullying, it was easy for her to feel overlooked by those around her, but she found solace in reading and finding uniquely relatable characters. Not those she shared outward similarities with, but those she empathized with on an emotional level.
Inspired, Erin began to write her own stories, something that allowed her to build her own world, craft her own identity, and find an outlet and sense of control she never felt before. Erin’s admiration for complex characters, combined with an unrelenting dream of being a writer, pushed her into the world of youth literature. Her ability to understand and convey the perspective of vulnerable, unseen children has found her a closely-bonded, communal audience.
In this week’s episode of The Reading Culture podcast, Erin shares her favorite books growing up, her path to writing kidlit, and why she believes kids are definitely not “incomplete vessels.” If you have read any of Erin’s books, you know how vulnerable and real her characters are. In this episode, she really makes herself vulnerable as well, sharing about some of the obstacles she overcame as a child and as an aspiring author. She is so relatable (and loveable)—you’ll feel like her bestie after listening!
For her reading challenge, Here to There, Erin challenges us to read books about characters who live in or are from places outside the United States. As a Filipina American writer, this is particularly important for Erin. Her list of recommended books is fantastic. I invite you to check it out, and for Beanstack clients, use the challenge on your site!
This episode's Beanstack featured librarian is Erin Bechdel, a middle and high school librarian at Beaver Area School District in Pennsylvania. She’ll tell us about her go-to author recommendation for students (my son definitely agrees!).
Listen to the full episode, “Lonely Planet: Erin Entrada Kelly on Looking After the Overlooked,” 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.