top of page

🎧 The Reader's Heart | Guest: Ann Braden

I cried the day I met Ann Braden, y'all. After several online conversations, Ann and I finally met in person in the vendor hall of AASL many moons ago in Louisville, KY. Ann's book The Benefits of Being an Octopus had touched me in a way few other books had and I'd reached out to Ann to tell her how much the book meant to me. As is so often the case with online communication, I felt emboldened to share some private truths with her about how much the mother she'd written about in the book reminded me of my own. I confessed that even though she and I had a very complicated, and rarely positive, relationship, seeing my mother's experiences reflected on the page was deeply moving. I gave that book away countless times in the months that followed and knowing how much it meant to me, my dear friend, Tara Celustka, crocheted me an octopus stress ball, that lives as the book's constant companion on my book shelf. Meeting Ann in person that first time was overwhelming, but also solidified a connection we share to this day. I think you'll hear the way our hearts are connected in this week's episode of The Reader's Heart. But more than that, I hope you'll hear how deeply Ann writes her own heart into the pages of her books. I continue to love her books and am so glad she's creating them for the reader's of today. I hope you love our conversation as much as I do.


Ann Braden writes books about kids learning to stand up for themselves even when it’s hard. Her debut middle grade novel, THE BENEFITS OF BEING AN OCTOPUS, was called one of “the essential middle school reads from the last decade” by Edutopia, and FLIGHT OF THE PUFFIN sparked a coast-to-coast read aloud with tens of thousands of students taking part.  Her newest book, OPINIONS AND OPOSSUMS, was a finalist for the New England Book Award and a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year. Ann founded the Local Love Brigade, which sends love postcards to those who are facing hate. She also founded GunSenseVT, a grassroots group which helped pass landmark common ground gun safety legislation. Previously a middle school teacher, Ann lives in southern Vermont with her husband, two kids, and two insatiable cats. 



Please enjoy a special discount of 20% off the titles mentioned in this episode (or others of your choice) by visiting Bookelicious and using the code JENNIFERLAGARDE. Note: I do not make any money from the sales, but I am delighted that you get to save some!

Connect with Ann


Rooted in the belief that our world needs the magic of children’s literature now more than ever, the Reader’s Heart podcast captures conversations with authors and illustrators about children's literature as a vehicle for empathy and joy in a dark world. I'm so excited about this project and it's my wish that it brings you as much light and hope as it has brought me.

Special thanks to Corinna Luyken for creating the beautiful illustration that will serve as the show's logo. I've always found Corinna's art so moving and she perfectly captured the spirit of what I am trying to do, which is to put warmth and love into the world during a time when so many are working to limit kids' access to the warmth and love inherent in children's literature. (Also, don't forget, you can use the discount above to buy Corinna's books from Bookelicious, too!)

Weekly episodes will drop on Tuesdays. Once you've had a chance to listen, I hope you will consider leaving The Reader's Heart a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review! Podcast reviews are one of the best ways to support your favorite shows and help others find these conversations.



black banner.png
  • Twitter Social Icon
  • instagram logo
  • YouTube Social  Icon
  • gmail square
  • TikTok

Let's Connect!

bottom of page