Tune in to These 7 YA Lit Podcasts

Kelly Jensen shares some young adult literature–focused podcasts that will not only help up your librarian game, but also entertain and expand your reading world.
Podcasts have steadily increased in popularity over the last handful of years. According to Edison Research, in 2017, 40 percent of Americans over the age of 12 listened to a podcast and nearly 25 percent had listened to one in the month prior to the survey. Even more eye-opening: 42 million Americans listen to a podcast weekly. If you’re new to the world of podcasts or have found them to be an excellent addition to your life and are seeking out more, here are a few young adult literature–focused selections that will not only help up your librarian game but also entertain and expand your reading world. With Teen Creeps, comedians Kelly Nugent and Lindsay Katai dig into the teen pulp classics of their youth. Every week, they select a book that they read together—and invite listeners to join them—and then dissect it. This hilarious podcast is unafraid to read aloud some of the most cringe-worthy passages, but it’s all done with love for these books and the culture surrounding them. The podcast is conversational and explicit at times, so it may not be the best one to listen to at work. Be ready to walk down memory lane or be compelled to pick up one of these. Great episodes to start with: Episode 34 “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” Episode 72 “The Face on the Milk Carton,” and #58 “My Sweet Audrina.” Check out the duo’s reading schedule. Young adult writer and evangelist Sarah Enni hosts the weekly First Draft with Sarah Enni. The interview-centered podcast focuses on the writing and publishing process of YA and middle grade writers and has featured guests such as Maggie Stiefvater, Brandy Colbert, Marie Lu, and Sabaa Tahir. In addition to offering interesting insight into how authors write their books, the program also providesbook recommendations galore. This is an awesome listen for learning more about favorite and new authors. Enni’s passion and knowledge inform her thoughtful and candid interviews. Great episodes to start with: “Stephanie Sabol: Executive Director, Brand Management at Penguin Young Readers,” “Anna-Marie McLemore,” and “Sabaa Tahir.” Want even more author interviews? You’ll want to tune in to 88 Cups of Tea with Yin Chang. Chang explores writing process with a wide variety of YA authors, as well as others within the book and publishing world, including TV writers, literary agents, and more. There are discussions about the nitty-gritty of writing, with plenty of airtime given to the reading life. This is a perfect listen for those who want to hear more from favorite and emerging writers, as well as those who are engaged in writing themselves. Chang crafts engaging questions, and she has a clear understanding of how to tailor her interviews to each of her guests. Great episodes to start with: “Gloria Chao: Exploring Cultural Identity Through Storytelling,” “Holly Black: Navigating the World of Contemporary Fantasy and Finding Your Community,” and “Nic Stone: Thriving In Our Art and Asking Tough Questions.” Check out the podcast’s exhaustive show notes. Text Messages is a podcast collaboration between the National Council of Teachers of English and the International Reading Association, produced by Read Write Think. Former English teacher Jennifer Buehler served as host of the podcast. Though it no longer produces new episodes, there is still a treasure trove of old episodes to discover. Aimed at adults who work with teen readers, Text Messages offered roughly an episode each month for eight years, highlighting the issues surrounding working with books and young readers. Not only are there plenty of book recommendations (and many backlist mentions) but there are also great discussions about bettering your own work as a reading advocate. The themes are timely and timeless, and periodic interviews add even more depth and variety to the show. Great episodes to start with: Episode 84 “Being a YA Lit Advocate,” Episode 76 “Life After High School,” and Episode 82 “Appreciating Audiobooks.” Put a Blurb on It is a bimonthly podcast hosted by Yash Kesanakurthy and Ardo Omer, two Canadian bloggers and book enthusiasts. The show provides a wide variety of YA and comic recommendations, as well as discussion of important pop culture news, all of it with a lighthearted and humorous tone. Both hosts are women of color, and conversations involving diversity and inclusivity are front and center. In a recent episode, YA author Jason Reynolds joined the pair for an interview. This is a newer podcast, but it’s one to watch and easy to share with teen listeners. Great episodes to start with: Start from the beginning! You can learn more about the podcast, including where to find some of the visuals, such as book covers, discussed on the show, on its Facebook page. If you’re a fan of speculative YA fiction, then Cast of Wonders is the perfect listen for you. This is a scripted, serialized podcast that each week treats listeners to a short story in the speculative YA fiction genre. Some are pulled from print or digital publications, while others are original tales written by the Cast of Wonders team. Share this podcast with patrons who are fans of audiobooks, as it takes the same format but showcases short stories in the YA world, which can be easy to miss or overlook. Great episodes to start with: Use their extensive web archive to find a speculative genre or subgenre you’re interested in, and go from there. And finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Hey YA podcast, hosted by young adult author and literary agent Eric Smith and myself. This biweekly podcast is produced and distributed by Book Riot and focuses solely on the world of YA lit. Each episode talks about current news, highlights books on various topics of interest to young adult readers, and leaves you with a to-be-read list that only grows and grows. The focus is, and always will be, on readers who love to read and think about the YA books they’re reading. Great episodes to start with: Episode 11 “Like The Fast and the Furious: Family!,” Episode 9 “Sorry, But You’re Old,” and Episode 3 “Is The Alien Rich?” One question remains for me: Where are the podcasts by teens about YA books? Are there any libraries working with and featuring young people to create teen lit–focused podcasts? Please mention in the comments, and suggest any other choices I might have missed. See also:

Prime Time for Podcasts by Linda Rogers

Kelly Jensen is a former librarian-turned-editor for Book Riot. Along with maintaining her long-running YA blog Stacked, she has edited two anthologies for young adults. Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World is available now, and (Don't) Call Me Crazy: 33 Voices Start The Conversation About Mental Health will be available in October 2018.
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Lisa Zuena

Thanks for the great suggestions! I've been working with teens at my library to produce a podcast entirely made of their voices, and it's been an amazing journey and learning process for us all. While not entirely lit-focused, they have done book reviews. It's called the "Pequa Podcast" (we're at the Massapequa Public Library in NY, and alliteration is always fun), and I can't wait to release more episodes with my teens soon. I will be sharing some of these podcasts with my teens at our next meeting!

Posted : Mar 23, 2018 10:21