Owl Diaries: Rebecca Elliott on Reading Aloud and Eva the Owlet

Episode 141 · January 30th, 2023 · 21 mins 42 secs

About this Episode

If you haven’t met Eva the Owlet, you’re in for a treat. She’s headed to Apple TV+ for her own animated series, which debuts on March 31.

Eva is the adorable narrator of Owl Diaries, a New York Times bestselling book series by author and illustrator Rebecca Elliott. In this episode, Rebecca talks with host Suzanne McCabe about the runaway success of Owl Diaries and Eva the Owlet, the upcoming adaptation from Apple TV+.

Rebecca will be participating in this year’s World Read Aloud Day, which takes place on February 1. For the past 13 years, World Read Aloud Day has called attention to the importance of sharing stories by challenging participants to grab a book, find an audience, and read aloud. The global effort, created by the nonprofit Lit World and sponsored by Scholastic, is celebrated annually in more than 173 countries.

This year, for the first time, there will be a live read-a-thon featuring Rebecca and several other favorite Scholastic authors, including Dav Pilkey and Brian Selznick. “Many studies have shown the educational benefits of children reading aloud,” Rebecca says. “But that’s not the main reason you should read aloud. The main reason is it’s fun, and it’s about sharing stories. To be human is to want to share stories.”

→ Resources
Rebecca Elliott: Learn more about the best-selling author.

Eva the Owlet: The spirited narrator of Owl Diaries gets her own animated show.

World Read Aloud Day: Download the “WRAD-a-thon” schedule and instructions.

100 Best Read-Aloud Books: Check out this list of favorite read-alouds for young readers.

→ Highlights
Rebecca Elliott, author, Owl Diaries
“Eva Wingdale—she’s a creative and adventurous owlet, and she lives in Treetopolis next to her best friend, Lucy…. She’s got a little brother and an older brother who can be a bit of a pain sometimes, and her parents. She goes to Treetop Owlementary School with her friends. She just gets up to lots of adventures.”
“Owls obviously are all around us. In fact, I can hear owls most nights here. But you rarely ever see them, so you can almost imagine that owls have a secret world, where they do go to school, and they do speak to each other on their Pinecone phones.”

“Kids will smell a moral a mile off. [But] if you can impart some sort of tiny life lessons in a fun way, then why not.”

“I wrote the kind of book that I would have wanted to read when I was eight or nine. Maybe that’s why it worked…. I was obsessed with animals and nature, but also, of course, being that age, obsessed with my friends, my family. I loved starting clubs.”

“Eva is always starting clubs, too. Family and friends should always be the most important thing at that age. It’s everything. But if you can get in some fantastical adventure—of course, the main characters fly. They’re like superheroes.”

“Every chapter ends on some sort of cliffhanger, so it makes [readers] want to pick up the book the next time.”

“I hear from lots and lots of parents, [saying], ‘My child has learning difficulties. My child has dyslexia. Or my child is a reluctant reader. And it was Owl Diaries that got them reading every night, and now we look forward to story time.’”

“Eva the Owlet, based on the Owl Diaries series, will be released on Friday, March 31, in over 100 countries. I have seen a tiny bit of it, and it’s just amazing how they’ve brought my illustrations to life. It’s 3-D. It’s beautiful. It’s funny. It’s fun. It’s fast-paced. It’s cute as anything, and they still got the diary-writing element in. Obviously, I like it because it’s based on my books, but it’s such a classy show. The girl who voices Eva is just an incredible talent.”

“Many studies have shown the educational benefits of children reading aloud—vocabulary, comprehension, understanding what they’re reading, and confidence in their own voice. Reading aloud just affirms the value of reading…. But you’re never going to get a kid to do anything by [listing] the educational benefits of something. So for me, that’s not the main reason you should read aloud. The main reason is it’s fun, and it’s about sharing stories. To be human is to want to share stories.”

“Films and TV are great, but books put you in the action.”

“If you’re reading a funny book out loud, and the person you’re reading to laughs, my goodness, that’s an amazing thing.”

“Any book you like is better read aloud if you can share it. And it doesn’t need to be books. It can be comics. My 10-year-old gets a fantastic kids’ newspaper. He’ll read aloud his favorite stories.”

“In terms of picture books for young readers, you just can’t beat The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson. It’s so fun to read aloud. Part of the success of The Gruffalo—it’s a fantastic story, and kids love to hear it—is parents love to read it. It’s funny, but the flow, the rhythm, is just so pleasing.”

“For older kids, I do think a scary book is a great read-aloud. My favorite would be The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. It’s about a boy raised by ghosts in a graveyard. Each chapter is a story in itself.”

→ Special Thanks
Producer: Constance Gibbs
Sound engineer: Daniel Jordan
Music composer: Lucas Elliot Eberl

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