I met author, Susan Tan, face to face on my summer trip to Boston. Her middle-grade books about Cilla Lee-Jenkins have become favorites of mine to recommend, and she was every bit as fun as I thought she’d be!

She’s also incredibly smart, and she’s writing wonderful books for our kids. On today’s Read-Aloud Revival podcast, Susan Tan and I talk about living a reading and writing life.

This episode is for aspiring writers, those who want to see more kids reflected in literature, and anyone who loves a good story.

(And pssst: If you and your kids love Ramona Quimby, you’re going to especially enjoy getting to know Cilla Lee-Jenkins.)

In this episode, you’ll hear:

  • her experience learning to read and how that impacted her future career
  • why kids need books that reflect their reality
  • her writing process … and you don’t want to miss this. It’s… quirky. 😅

I am thrilled to introduce you to Susan Tan, so…

Click the play button below:

Listener Guide

Use the time stamps below to skip to any part of the podcast:

  • 1:51 Meet Susan Tan and Cilla
  • 6:29 Becoming a reader (and then an author)
  • 9:44 Representation in children’s literature
  • 14:39 Why kids need to see themselves in books
  • 19:10 Writing in bed and on the bus
  • 24:12 Two kinds of writers
  • 27:01 A new ‘epic story’
  • 29:45 Let the kids speak

More free resources and booklists

Get the best episodes and reources
from the Read-Aloud Revival

Powered by ConvertKit

Links from this episode:

Here’s the infographic Susan mentions during the show:

Quotes to remember:

Cilla is impossible not to love even when she’s being a little bit impossible. I just love her.”  -Sarah Mackenzie

“I began to imagine how I would have liked those conversations to go when I was a child, when people would look at me- a biracial child- and ask, ‘what are you?’ I began to imagine a child who didn’t understand the question, but in not understanding it was able to reclaim it. So, the premise for Cilla comes from someone asking what are you? And her saying, ‘Oh my gosh, I don’t know. No one’s ever asked me this question before, but if I have to pick now I guess I’ll be a future literary genius.'” – Susan Tan

“It was in my academic studies as I confronted this gap that I suddenly wondered, where are the books that I wanted as a kid? And my sisters were getting older and my cousins were having children, and I was thinking where are the books that I want them and their kids to read? And that really is what inspired me to start writing. So weirdly, going to Academia led me right back to writing.”

(Download the transcript above for more quotes and pull-outs.)

Books from this episode:

(All links are Amazon affiliate links.)

Episode 114
Cilla Lee-Jenkins: Future Author Extraordinaire

Cilla Lee-Jenkins: Future Author Extraordinaire

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

Priscilla Cilla Lee-Jenkins is on a tight deadline. Her baby sister is about to be born, and Cilla needs to become a bestselling author before her family forgets all about her. So she writes about what she knows best--herself!

More info →
Buy from Bookshop
Buy from Amazon
Ramona the Pest

Ramona the Pest

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

Ramona's big day has finally arrived! This is the day she starts kindergarten and it's even better than she could have imagined. Her teacher promises her a present. She learns a great new song about "the dawnzer lee light." There's show and tell, learning to write her name, playing Gray Duck, and marching with the old kids in the Halloween Parade.

More info →
Buy from Bookshop
Buy from Amazon
Thief of Hearts (Golden Mountain Chronicles, 1995)

Thief of Hearts (Golden Mountain Chronicles, 1995)

$7.99

**Description from Amazon: Caught in the Middle Stacy Palmer almost never thinks about being Chinese American, As far as she's concerned, she's just like everyone else.Then Hong Ch'un comes to Stacy's school from China. Stacy and Hong Ch'un don't exactly get along, but when Hong Ch'un is accused of stealing and runs away, Stac...

More info →
Buy from Amazon

You’ll also enjoy:

135,000+ families trust the RAR Booklist

get yours free

Powered by ConvertKit