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The Reading Culture

The World As It Should Be: LeUyen Pham Illustrates an Ideal

The Reading Culture
The Reading Culture
"There's something very lovely about feeling like, well, it's not my name, and it's not me, it's just the books.” - LeUyen Pham

To listen to LeUyen Pham is to feel inspired. She is full of hope and ideas and sees potential everywhere and in everyone. In LeUyen’s ideal world, diverse representation is a natural outgrowth of art that truly reflects our world. Her career as an artist and writer has been her contribution to making that a reality. Her career as an artist and writer has been her contribution to making that a reality. If you have ever read a book that LeUyen illustrated, you already know this to be true. The diversity we see in LeUyen’s pages is at once realistic and aspirational.

Her illustration credits include over 130 books, such as “Bear Came Along,” recognized with a Caldecott Honor, the popular “The Princess in Black” series, “Lunar New Year Love Story,” and my kids’ favorite when they were younger, “Grace for President.” She has also illustrated and written a few of her own, including the award-winning “Outside, Inside” and “Big Sister Little Sister.”

In this episode, LeUyen tells us why she prefers to be an “art chameleon” (and how that led to challenges early in her career). She talks about how support from her teachers showed her that a career as an artist was even a possibility and how an accusation of cheating (well, not really) put her on the right path.


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In her reading challenge, Chasing Home, LeUyen gets personal and invites us to explore the concept of what home means, especially from her perspective as a refugee.

You can find her list and all past reading challenges at thereadingculturepod.com/leuyen-pham

This episode’s Beanstack Featured Librarian is Marva Coney, a librarian at Jackson Intermediate in the Pasadena Independent School District. She shares a story about just how important books can be as kids start to grow and experience newer and harder parts of life for the first time.


Chapter 1 - Temple City and Bill Peet (2:06)

Chapter 2 - From Wynne to LeUyen (8:16)

Chapter 3 - The Witch of Blackbird Pond (10:01)

Chapter 4 - Art Chameleon (18:51)

Chapter 5 - Incidental Diversity (24:55)

Chapter 6 - The Artist Shows Herself (31:05)

Chapter 7 - Chasing Home (36:52)

Chapter 8 - Beanstack Featured Librarian (38:18)


Host: Jordan Lloyd Bookey
Jackie Lamport and Lower Street Media
Script Editors: Josia Lamberto-Egan, Jackie Lamport, Jordan Lloyd Bookey

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