In honor of a series launch from my company’s new imprint aimed at younger readers, I thought it would be fun to have the publishing director of Arcadia Children Books come on the podcast.

Nancy Ellwood has been in children’s nonfiction publishing for more than 20 years, creating series and editing books for small mom-and-pop publishers, as well as one of the big guys. As a mom, she struggles with and delights in the bedtime reading choices of her two elementary-aged kids. 

I was glad to have that kind of perspective available, because it allowed me to revisit some cavalier advice I’d given about fairy tales and fantasy stories before I was a parent. When a friend asked me what I thought about exposing kids to stories like the Lord of the Rings too early, I essentially replied that expanding imaginative horizons at the expense of a few nightmares was worth the risk. 

But that was before I’d spent a week’s worth of nights talking my son through the fate of a flamingo chick in a Disney Nature documentary.  Which was a good use of time, actually; stories are one of the best ways to discuss difficult things. I just don’t dismiss nightmares as easily.

When we talked about Arcadia Publishing’s new Spooky America series, Nancy didn’t dismiss nightmares either. But she gave better advice about scary stories than I did in that she described reading as a sort of ongoing partnership between parents and kids.  The parent can err on the side of challenging kids to explore new things because the parent has a good specific understanding of what their kids would find unmanageable.

As an unexpected bonus, she also described the process of finding a shark photographer.  It’s hard for me to imagine when I might need that kind of professional help, but it’s also difficult for me to stop running through scenarios in which I casually mention that I’ve got a shark photographer en route.

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