Have you ever noticed Instagram is flooded with female bookstagrammers? I wanted to find out who some of the men are who also share and read books on Instagram. This ongoing series will feature some of the most well read men on Instagram who also share a passion for all things BOOKS. Let’s get up close and personal with: James Trevino. You may have seen his mesmerizing and elaborate photos on his mega popular Instagram account that is a visual bookish feast for your eyes. His tagline is “Don’t Be Basic” and you can shop his merchandise here.
Have you ever noticed Instagram is flooded with female bookstagrammers? I wanted to find out who some of the men are who also share and read books on Instagram. This ongoing series will feature some of the most well read men on Instagram who also share a passion for all things BOOKS. Let’s get up close and personal with: Ryan from Dad Suggests.
What is your name and Instagram handle?
My name is Ryan Billingsley and I’m the dad behind @dadsuggests on Instagram.
When did you start your Instagram account and what was your motivation for starting it?
We actually started DadSuggests and our Instagram page in the summer of 2018, so we just celebrated our 1 year anniversary. Basically, I really just wanted a way to share with other parents and teachers the things that our family loves. I wanted to help people find really high-quality content for some meaningful family time.
After writing about a few of our favorite books and games and putting up pictures of them on Instagram, I realized how much I love advocating for things like empathy and imagination – and how important it is to read and play with your kids. My articles and my posts often drift into reflections on parenting and our role in providing a magical childhood for our kids. I might be writing about books and board games – but in my head I’m often contemplating how to make happy kids and other bits of the meaning of life.
Have you always enjoyed reading?
Yes! I was lucky enough to have parents who sat by the side of my bed at night and read me stories that I’ll never forget – like classic tales from the Brothers Grimm. And I had a very cool bunk bed growing up with a built-in bookshelf. It was the perfect size to store all of my Goosebumps books – which I very often stayed up late reading.
And, of course, I was tremendously lucky to grow up during the era of Harry Potter – basically being the same age as Harry through the whole series. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to be a kid during that craze – attending the midnight releases and trying to read the whole book before the sun came up.
Where do you currently live?
I have lived in beautiful Fayetteville, AR for my entire life.
Name 1-2 recent books you’ve really enjoyed reading this year.
For picture books, I’ve already shortlisted Imagine That by Jonathan D. Voss and All the Ways to Be Smart by Davina Bell as favorites for 2019. I can’t recommend them highly enough. Both books do a tremendous job celebrating the child’s imagination – and that is of course a real soft spot for me.
Imagine That leaves me with the same happy feelings I get when I read Winnie the Pooh, and I’m actually tempted to label All the Ways to Be Smart the most important, if not the very best, picture book ever made. (Sidenote: Wow, I need to check this one out ASAP since we haven’t read it yet!)
Are you currently in a relationship? It’s okay to plead the 5th if you prefer not to answer!
Haha! No need for mysteries here! My wife and I just celebrated our 8th anniversary!
Do you have children? If so, do they love to read as well?
We have a 6-year-old boy and a 3-year-old girl. They’ve been read to literally every single day of their lives – particularly at bedtime. Reading has always been cherished family time and a part of our soothing going-to-sleep process. Books have simply always been a part of the routine since day one.
After all that exposure to stories – our son has caught on with independent reading really nicely, and he really loves reading fantasy books. Some of his favorites early chapter books are The Kingdom of Wrenly and Moongobble and Me. And we really love doing interactive books and Choose Your Own Adventure together.
What advice would you give to parents of children who may have reluctant readers or kids who don’t enjoy reading?
The best case scenario is that you’re able to start early and make reading a part of the family routine from day one. There’s no better predictor for growing up to love reading than spending your childhood on Mom and Dad’s lap reading picture books together every night.
But assuming it’s too late for that and we’re talking about older kids now – it’s still important to note that it’s never too late to discover a love for stories. Step one as a parent is to ensure that you’re being a reading role model. If all children see is their parents watching TV or looking at their phone, odds are pretty good that’s what they’ll choose to do too.
And, speaking as a teacher, don’t forget that turning reading into a chore is the absolute kiss of death. Avoid that at all costs. Instead, expose them to a wide variety of materials they might like – graphic novels, magazines about video games, Choose Your Own Adventure, scary stories, audio books, etc.
In my experience, reluctant reading often has strong correlations with reading struggles. And their struggles feed their reluctance, and their lack of practice makes it harder to grow. So you have to start somewhere to start building vocabulary, prosody, and a positive relationship with stories – and even the most reluctant readers still really love relaxing and being read to.
What books are on your nightstand right now?
Right now I have an awesome stack of picture books that I’m writing about for our next article on DadSuggests.com – The Best Picture Books About Imagination. The stack includes This is Sadie by Sara O’Leary and Ocean Meets Sky by The Fan Brothers. I have twelve of our favorite picture books here for this list, and they all do a great job celebrating creativity and promoting a magical childhood. I also have the new novelization of Pan’s Labyrinth from Guillermo del Toro and Cornelia Funke sitting on my nightstand. It’s amazing!
Why do you think it’s important to read either on your own or with children?
Quite frankly, reading to your kids is the second-best gift you can give them – finishing in a close second place to your unconditional love. Reading to your kids will obviously prepare them for a better life academically, but it’s so much more than that. Reading grows imagination and empathy as well – along with a plethora of other social skills. Books open up a window into the world, and they have the ability to impart invaluable wisdom. On the deepest level, exposing your kids to that art and that wisdom will help them find meaning in life.
And you can never be too old to benefit from stretching your imagination and widening your understanding of the world. Whether you’re reading to educate yourself or just to escape for a little while – the benefits to the brain are numerous. Personally, I find that reading a good novel clears my mind the same way that meditating or playing chess does – and my brain always appreciates those calm moments.
Hard cover, paperback, or e-book when reading a book on your own?
I’ve always preferred hardcover editions. With picture books that’s always important because it ensures that they will include the often beautiful end papers. And hardcovers may not always be the most convenient choice for reading or traveling with novels – but they’re certainly my favorite.
Name 1-2 of your favorite authors.
One or two is too hard! But I can give you a very condensed version of just some of our favorites: Bruce Coville, Mac Barnett, Jon Klassen, Sara O’Leary, Trudy Ludwig, Philip C. Stead, Shel Silverstein, Chris Van Allsburg, and Ben Hatke.
Does your family have any story time or reading rituals to share?
After dinner time and shower time comes book time – every single night. And we never miss a night. We take books on vacations with us, and nothing about the ritual changes. Typically the reading consists of a stack of picture books, but sometimes that’s replaced with a longer reading from a chapter book. It’s a beloved ritual, and I plan on reading aloud with the family indefinitely.
How do you choose which books to share on your Instagram page?
We only write about books that we love on DadSuggests.com, and we put a lot of thought into books that we put onto any of our lists. Typically, those are the books that we take pictures of and share on Instagram as well, and occasionally we’ll throw in some new purchases or library finds that we’re really excited about too. And I try to get into the spirit of Throwback Thursday and pull out books from my childhood. Basically, if we love it, we’ll recommend it to others.
It’s important to me that our social media accounts and our website always remain a source for our personal recommendations. That’s why we make it a point to inform publishers and authors that we only recommend the things we love, and we simply have no interest in doing negative reviews.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I just want to say thank you so much for taking the time to interview me. It was a lot of fun, and I appreciate you and what you do on Here Wee Read.
I also wanted to say thank you to every single person who took the time to read this interview. I hope that you found a few new interesting picture books to look up – and I hope that I’ve been able to inspire you to help me spread this message to others: it’s so incredibly important to read and play with your kids! It’s our noble duty and it’s our privilege as parents to build a magical childhood for our kids – full of imagination and creativity and wonder.
Have you ever noticed Instagram is flooded with female bookstagrammers? I wanted to find out who some of the men are who also share and read books on Instagram. This ongoing series will feature some of the most well read men on Instagram who also share a passion for all things BOOKS. Today we’re getting up close and personal with: Reggie Bailey.
What is your name and Instagram handle? My name is Reggie Bailey and my Instagram handle is @reggiereads.
When did you start your Instagram account and what was your motivation for starting it? I started my Instagram account in 2011 when I was a big sneakerhead. One who was on top of all the Nike and Jordan Brand releases specifically. Originally my account was used for communicating with other sneakerheads, while showing off my latest and greatest in footwear.
Eventually I fell off of sneakers as a hobby and fell into book reading as a hobby. I didn’t officially join Bookstagram until 2017. Before 2017 I would show books on my page because they were making an impact on me, but 2017 is when I realized there was an entire “underworld” on Instagram, called Bookstagram, and my reading life hasn’t been the same since my encounter with said “underworld.”
Have you always enjoyed reading? I’ve always enjoyed reading, although I haven’t always been a recreational reader. That’s largely because when I was younger I wasn’t reading enough books that interested me, especially in grade school. Whether it was The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, Beowulf, the Odyssey… I was just bored. I’d probably be able to get into those now, but it’d be dishonest of me to call books those books top priority as far as my reading list is concerned.
Why do you think we don’t see more men, (specifically Black men), reading or sharing about books they read? Do you think reading is perceived to be “uncool” in the Black community? I’ll answer the latter question first. In the Black community reading is considered cool for sure. I’ve never had anyone Black criticize me for being an active reader, and I don’t foresee that happening. In fact, according to a 2014 study, which I found on the Atlantic, College educated Black women are the demographic that is most likely to read a book. Based off of that information I would estimate that not reading would be considered “uncool” in the Black community, although myself, nor anyone else, should pass any judgment on anyone who cannot, will not or does not read books.
I can’t think of any specific reason why we don’t see more Black men reading and/or sharing thoughts on the books they’ve read. I have seen more Black men reading and sharing thoughts on Goodreads than I have on Instagram, but I’m not sure why the numbers are so skewed in favor of women reading books, and sharing their thoughts on the web.
Maybe that’s the part that certain Black men think is uncool. Making a page on Instagram dedicated to the books they read, or maybe it’s something they aren’t confident in doing, don’t want to do or simply just don’t care to do. Who knows?
Hopefully we’ll get those numbers up over time though!
Name 1-2 recent books you’ve really enjoyed reading this year. I read The Bluest Eye for the first time and reread Sula and Song of Solomon earlier in the year. All of those spectacular novels were authored by the late and perpetually great Toni Morrison.
Song of Solomon and Sula were even better the second time around, which is expected when someone as magnificent as Toni Morrison authors a book, and Song of Solomon is the best novel I’ve ever read. A fact I don’t being altered anytime soon.
Are you currently in a relationship? It’s okay to plead the 5thif you prefer not to answer! If I pled the 5th, my girlfriend wouldn’t be happy. Lol.
Do you have children? If so, do they love to read as well? I do not have any children, but I would hope they would love to read if I had any.
What advice would you give to parents of children, (specifically parents with boys), who may have reluctant readers or kids who don’t enjoy reading? Although I am hesitant to propose any advice to a parent, considering I am a) Not a parent & b) Not even in a profession that deals with children, the best advice I would give, if I felt inclined, is to try and show children themselves through literature. Obviously this answer is geared more towards Black and Brown children, but it is important for these children to see themselves inside of books and on book covers, so they know that their stories are important and are worth being told.
What books are on your nightstand right now? Too many! But some current standouts on my nightstand are Survival Math by Mitchell Jackson, American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson, and Red Now and Laters by Marcus Guillory.
Do you think male bookstagrammers are perceived differently than female bookstagrammers? If so, in what way(s)? Yes and no. Yes because there aren’t as many of us so we are somewhat of a novelty (I suppose), but no because we’re readers just like all of the women of Bookstagram and we are all ultimately reading to enlighten and better ourselves while being entertained, amongst other motivations.
Hard cover, paperback, or e-book when reading a book on your own? Hardcover is my preference without question. I’ll do paperback as well, but I do not e-read.
Name 1-2 of your favorite authors. Toni Morrison is my absolute favorite. Long Live the Queen! I will not count her as my 1-2 though, because that is too easy. 1-2 of my favorite contemporary authors are Tayari Jones and Jamel Brinkley. Both authors made a lot of noise in 2018 with their classic works An American Marriage, and A Lucky Man, respectively.
How do you choose which books to feature on your Instagram account? I’d be lying to you if I said I had a method, especially when it comes to my stories. In my stories I will showcase any book that comes to my mind. Whether those are books that I bought, books that I am highly anticipating, or literally a book that ran across my mind for a few minutes.
For posts I choose books that motivate me to write reviews that I feel reach a substantial length. I wouldn’t want to post a review on a book I read where I only said “This book was great… 5 stars!” or something short like that. I always do my best to add a unique & informed, if not passionate, perspective to the conversation around a book I read.
Anything else you’d like to share? Thank you so much for having me on your platform. I am humbled and privileged to have this opportunity.
Thank you to anyone who takes the time to read this interview. I am grateful for your time, because we live in a world that has more information and content than we can imagine, and you could literally be consuming ANYTHING, but you are here, and I do not take that for granted.
Participate in #2BooksUnder50Reviews Challenge if you get the chance. This is a challenge I created in the beginning of 2019 to influence readers to search for, read and review more obscure works. The rules are simple: Find a book published in 2017 or earlier that has less than 50 reviews (not ratings) on Goodreads, read it, and review it on Goodreads, but also on Instagram and make sure to use the hashtag #2BooksUnder50Reviews. We are going to build a library full of obscure works and finally give some authors some well-deserved roses!
Read books! Books are amazing; they are mind-altering, life-changing pieces of art that also entertain. Read and think critically about the content in these books. Think critically about the plot, the structure, the wordplay, how the events in the book correlate to things happening in the world, etc.
Read with a buddy or a book club so you can discuss these books and learn from one another. During these discussions share popular opinions, unpopular opinions, and controversial opinions, but be genuine and respectful while doing such.
Last but not least, follow me on Instagram @reggiereads. Send me a friend request on Goodreads (http://www.goodreads.com/reggieread), and let’s discuss books. Send me a message, comment on a post, or whatever you feel inclined to do. I’m always up for discussions centering books and literature, and it’s something I’m more passionate about than I’d ever thought I’d be.
Your turn: Did you enjoy this feature? Tell us your thoughts in the comments. Also, please let me know what other men of Bookstagram I should feature in this series.
Have you ever noticed Instagram is flooded with female bookstagrammers? I wanted to find out who some of the men are who also share and read books on Instagram. This ongoing series will feature some of the most well read men on Instagram who also share a passion for all things BOOKS. Let’s get up close and personal with: Rod Kelly.
What is your name and Instagram handle? Hello! My name is Rod Kelly, aka @read_by_rodkelly on Insta-, excuse me, Bookstagram.
When did you start your Instagram account and what was your motivation for starting it? I had a standard-issue Instagram account for years, but I properly entered the Bookstagram sphere in January of 2018.
Have you always enjoyed reading? I would say yes, absolutely! However, I can’t say I was a reader, a serious one, until around five years ago. I had no discernible taste in books, it was a total dart-throwing activity until I finally hit bull’s eye with Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. That was my true literary baptism and I haven’t looked back since!
Why do you think we don’t see more men, (specifically Black men), reading or sharing about books they read? Do you think reading is perceived to be “uncool” in the Black community? I can’t say for sure why that is. Black men, in my generation especially, are most certainly reading. Living in New York, being on the subways, I’ve shared many a cramped space with other chocolate men, head buried in the pages of our myriad lit. I think, perhaps, that hybridizing the activity into a social media platform could be seen as pointless and/or tiresome to many black men, and men in general, perhaps. I cannot speak for a whole community of men. It is, after all, a hobby, and quite the time-consuming one, when you think about the quintessential features of booksta accounts: reviews, lists, tags, hauls, giveaways, etc. What about the pleasure of simply reading?
Perhaps instead of posting daily, hourly, and by-the-minute, they’re actually holding a book rather than a phone. (The same could probably be said for many women as well, but because women dominate bookstagram, the question isn’t very relevant.) And sure, it was probably once considered to be “uncool”, but I don’t think that’s at all true today. I think black men and women of my generation and younger now want to be educated, want to be well-read and well-rounded. And anyway, I cannot imagine a grown ass man (bleep me if there are no curses allowed haha), in this day and age, in the times we’re living in, to criticize another for reading. This isn’t a time to sit around being stupid, or, I’ll be nicer, mentally lazy. Pick up a book!
Name 1-2 recent books you’ve really enjoyed reading this year. This is hard, because it’s been an incredible reading year so far. Off the top of my head I’m going to shout out The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead and Lot by Bryan Washington. Both are five-star, top-tier literary works from formidably talented, and imaginatively soulful writers.
Are you currently in a relationship? It’s okay to plead the 5th if you prefer not to answer! Okay, that went left, haha! But, no… I am happily single.
Do you have children? If so, do they love to read as well? N/A
What advice would you give to parents of children, (specifically parents with boys), who may have reluctant readers or kids who don’t enjoy reading? I’m not a parent, but my mother, grandmother, and other elders placed books in front of me from a very early age. It’s important for kids to know that there is power in language, in the written word. Children will understand and receive that if it’s taught very early on in their development.
Do you think male bookstagrammers are perceived differently than female bookstagrammers? If so, in what way(s)? I don’t think there’s any conspicuous difference in perception. Bookstagram is obviously a more woman-centered space, but within my own community of followers and followed, though women dominate, it is a variegated, prismatic mix of people of all colors, gay, straight, cis, trans, non-binary, old, young, trash readers, high-brow snobs, etc. I accept that most people’s flocks may be mostly white, mostly female, which, fine for them, but I like a multiplicity of voices and views in my own space. I think I answered a question you didn’t ask, but my point is that I don’t believe male/female perception is really a thing at all.
Hard cover, paperback, or e-book when reading a book on your own? Paperback preferably, but I’ve become less snobby about these things the more I read; whatever I have on hand when I’m ready to read a certain book is what I go with. For big, long books, sometimes it’s convenient to have both the digital and hard copy.
Name 1-2 of your favorite authors. Easy: Toni Morrison & James Baldwin. No one better. And for a younger pair: Zadie Smith & Marlon James.
How do you choose which books to feature on your Instagram account?
I don’t make a huge to-do out of it, I simply share the things that give me pleasure. I review when I’m moved to review, I post when I feel I have something to say. Otherwise, I like to keep things very random and organic, mostly located within the stories feature, which is my favorite thing about IG.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I just want to thank you for thinking of me for this series! I can’t wait to read about all of the other lovely booksta-men that you feature! Much love!