If you follow me on social media, I'm sure you heard that this week I appeared as a special guest on The Evening Show on BBC Radio Newcastle. I know, CRAZY. If you haven't heard then you must be living under a rock or something because I literally haven't shut up about it for the past week. Anyway, the show is all about young people in the North East and the things they're doing to help their communities in the region. It's such a cute show and the host Tamsin Robson is absolutely brilliant. (If you want to check it out, the link is here).
This week the theme was bloggers and influencers and (hilariously) they felt I fitted the bill what with me just launching a book blog and encouraging children to read through my job as a bookseller and what not. So when I received a message from one of the BBC's social media team at first I was like.. hold up is someone pranking me right now? Someone wants to interview *me*?!
Then when I realised they were serious I was kinda like...
It's no secret that I love talking about children's books so I'm sure you can imagine my excitement when I was offered the chance to discuss my blog, my masters degree in children's literature, and my life as a kids bookseller live on air! A dream come true!
And then Monday arrived.
Guys let me tell you I've never been so nervous about anything in my life. I was serving some serious Noughties Eminem Realness waiting in that green room:
The only thing missing was mom's spaghetti and quite frankly I'm grateful I didn't have any because it would have came straight back up. I was in panic mode. I'd never been interviewed before (except for jobs obviously) and I'd certainly never been broadcast LIVE on-air! What if I forgot what to say? What if I said rudey-dudey words by mistake?! What if I got verbal diarrhoea and couldn't shut up?! SO MANY THINGS COULD GO WRONG.
Thankfully though everything went smoothly (at least I think it did??) and after the first ten minutes or so my nerves settled down and I eased in to the interview. Tamsin was amazing and she did a great job at keeping me calm. We chatted for a while before the show started (it turns out we're both going to see Margaret Atwood in conversation at The Sage in Gateshead later this month - how about that?!) and by the end of the show it just felt like having a conversation with a friend.
My initial worry was that I was going to run out of things to talk about - 45 minutes sounds like a long time! In fact, I barely scraped the surface. There were tons of things I discussed with Tamsin in the green room that we didn't have time to cover: LGBTQ+ YA literature, #ownvoices, the lack of BAME publishing for kids, literacy levels across the North East. I'm going to try to cover some of that stuff in future blog posts because I think there's a lot to unpack and I'm keen to hear other people's views on those topics so stay tuned for that!
What I Learned
I sound way more Northern on the radio than I do in real life (not really that difficult to be honest, but still very weird)
I say "like" all the time. LIKE, seriously Liam learn to speak properly!
Radio is actually quite fun once you get past the nerves and forget just how many people are listening in!
Roald Dahl wrote a cook book! It's always nice to be the one on the receiving end of book trivia and not the one dishing it out. Who'd have thought?
I mentioned that children who enjoy reading are 5x more likely to read above the level expected for their age compared to children who don't enjoy reading. I promise I wasn't making this up! This statistic comes from a 2019 report by the National Literacy Trust which you can find here. If you get the time to read it you should. There are some staggering findings, all of which reinforce how important reading is for young people!
I also said that reading for pleasure leads to improvement in other subject areas like Maths. There's been a number of studies on the cross-curriculum impact of reading - here is a short article based on one of those studies.
I didn't get to talk in great detail about all of these books but here are some of the ones I mentioned. They're all examples of brilliant children's books and there's a lot of titles here that will appeal to reluctant readers. We also discussed The Handmaid's Tale and its sequel The Testaments. These are not children's books. Do not read them to your children. They will have nightmares and there will be a lot of therapy fees to pay. Don't say I didn't warn you!
All in all, I had a brilliant time and it was so interesting getting to see behind the scenes in a radio studio. I think my favourite part definitely had to be discussing whether Margaret Atwood is BTS #ARMY. I mean I can't really see it but just imagine if she was! 😂 And even though I almost went into cardiac arrest from nerves, I would jump at the chance to do it again. If you ever get the opportunity to do it, you absolutely should!
And if you would like to listen to my interview on The Evening Show, you can access it here via BBC Sounds. As the link expires in couple of weeks, I've uploaded a recording to this blog post that you can listen to directly. Just hit the play button below!
I hope you find my ramblings of some interest and fingers crossed I haven't embarrassed myself too much! Let me know what you think - and don't forget to take part in my #BurningBuildingBooks tag which is mentioned right at the end. You can find all the details for it right here.