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The Children's Book Podcast

Mar 14, 2023

John Schu and Lauren Castillo share This Is a Story, inviting us to imagine the myriad ways that books can foster connection and understanding--and how they can empower children, through their own passions, to transform the world.


BOOK DESCRIPTION: This Is a Story by John Schu; illustrated by Lauren Castillo

Page Length: 40 pages

Ages 4 to 8, Grades P to 3

Children's literacy advocate John Schu and Caldecott Honor recipient Lauren Castillo celebrate the power of finding the perfect book--in a story that's more relevant than ever.

This is a word on a page.

This is a page in a book.

This is a book on a shelf . . . waiting.

With a sea-horse kite in hand, a child heads out with Dad to the library. On the way they stop at a park, joining lots of people, some of whom are flying kites, too. At the library, a person toting a big pile of books hands over a story on a favorite subject: the sea horse. All around, there are readers poring over books, each with their own questions, ideas to explore, hopes for the future, and imaginations ready to spark. With a warm, lyrical text and tenderly expressive illustrations, John Schu and Lauren Castillo invite us to imagine the myriad ways that books can foster connection and understanding--and how they can empower children, through their own passions, to transform the world.



(7:44) “[Finding that just-right book] feels very soothing and it makes me think of the books that are the ones that I return to over and over again. Those are like comfort objects to me.”

(8:30) “A book often walks into our life when we need it the most.”

(8:45) “We know that books can make our hearts grow. They can make our hearts change. And they can make our hearts more compassionate.”

(12:11) “And right away we see [that] the way that I define story is probably different from how you define story, Matthew. And how you define story, Matthew, is probably different from how Lauren defines story, so I love how everyone has their own personal definition of what the word story means.”

(13:39) “Reading can be a workout for your heart, and reading can be a workout for your imagination.” 

(14:23) “I feel that I am a better person because of all of the kids who I've met around the world.”

(15:15) “Cities are the places I like to call home. And that's because I love to be surrounded by diversity and experience different cultures and different types of people. And when I illustrate, I always want the art to be representative of the many types of people in our communities.”

(17:52) “Sometimes humans need help connecting.”

(24:07) “Is there a book that feels like a best friend to you?”

(24:33) “Don't be shy to ask your librarian or your teacher or your friends for suggestions if you're having a hard time finding books that you love. Because I know that, you know, for me as a kid sometimes it was hard for me to find those books that I loved without help. And so I would, I would urge you to, to reach out and ask for help because they're, those books are out there and they're waiting for you to find them.” 




  1. How would you describe the just-right book for you right now? What format (picture book, novel, graphic novel, novel in verse, etc.) does it use to share the story? What topic(s) is it about? What makes this book such a good fit for you?

  2. What is your relationship to story? What word or words come to mind when you hear the word “story”? What feelings come to heart? What memories?

  3. It can feel really satisfying when someone shares a recommendation with you that makes you feel like the are knowing or seeing you/your true self. Have you experienced this yet? If so, what did it feel like? If not, can you think of an opportunity you might have to make someone else feel seen in this way?



This podcast episode of The Children’s Book Podcast was written, edited, and produced by Matthew Winner. For a full transcript of this episode, visit

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Fellow teachers and librarians, want a way to explore building a stronger culture of reading in our communities? In The Reading Culture podcast, Beanstack co-founder Jordan Bookey hosts conversations that dive into beloved authors' personal journeys and insights into motivating young people to read. And I am a big fan! Check out the Reading Culture Podcast with Jordan Bookey, from Beanstack. Available wherever podcasts are found.

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