Launched by All Classical Portland (ACP) in 2019, the International Children’s Arts Network (ICAN) is a commercial-free radio station offering multi-disciplinary arts programming to engage the hearts, minds, and ears of young listeners. Streaming worldwide at icanradio.org and available regionally on HD radio, ICAN provides 24 hours/day of engaging programing for children and the adults who care for and educate them. ICAN’s locally produced Audio Book Tour is a monthly radio/streaming program highlighting contemporary children’s books to help improve literacy, share diverse stories, and teach children to navigate the world with authenticity, kindness, and integrity. Launched in May 2020, Audio Book Tour addresses the heightened community need for cost-free educational programming. As families adapt to ever-changing hybrid learning options, and while in-person events like story times remain limited, resources like ICAN and its Audio Book Tour are needed more urgently than ever.
Featuring diverse and thoughtful children’s stories read by authors and ICAN contributors, Audio Book Tour allows children of all backgrounds to hear their families’ experiences represented on the radio, helps them learn about other cultures through authentic and age-appropriate stories. Featured books help children and families navigate difficult topics such as belonging, race, and bullying—challenges increasingly affecting youth in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Since its launch, the program has featured 15+ multicultural and socially responsible stories, including: “A Kids Book About Belonging” by Kevin Carroll; “Christmas Menorah: How a Town Fought Hate” by Janice Cohn; “Dream Drum Girl” by Margarita Engle; “Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match/no combina” by Monica Brown; and “I Am Every Good Thing” by Derrick Barnes and Gordon C. James.
Prior to Audio Book Tour, ICAN exclusively shared literary works in the public domain. While historical works are an important component of literary traditions and education, few such works (published in 1921 or earlier) address the specific challenges and questions facing children and families today. These contemporary stories are a vital avenue for young people to understand the changing world in which they live. In the coming year, ICAN will expand on-demand access to Audio Book Tour, allowing families to listen on their own schedule and uniquely inspiring and nourishing the next generation of leaders and innovators.