“The Green Lamp” is a Russian-language literary podcast for school-aged children, collaboratively produced by a Russian/Ukrainian/American team.
The show’s mission is to develop a lifelong affinity for reading among school-aged children and raise a new generation of readers capable of independent thought. The podcast’s host is a PhD in Russian literature, a school teacher from Saint Petersburg (Russia), who is known in the city’s literary circles for his unorthodox approach: he does not just cover works that conform to the curriculum, but broadens his students’ horizons by turning to lesser-known authors and focusing on developing children’s ability to truly internalize the material.
Every episode follows the same structure: the host selects a short story, introduces the author and provides some background to help listeners understand the context of the story selected. An actor then reads the story, followed by the host offering tips for understanding the content and questions that help listeners independently reflect on it. Although all stories are read in Russian, in the case of translated works, the show often includes excerpts of the original works read in the language in which they were written.
Even though none of the creators have a background in podcasting, we make every effort to produce a professional result. We meticulously tailor every word spoken by the host, we have commissioned a professional composer to create the show’s music, hired a graphic artist to draw cover art, work with theater and movie actors to record the stories and employ a sound engineer to mix and edit the show. Overall, on average we invest around 40 hours of time in the production of each episode.
Although in writing the show we speak to a younger audience (we target children 8-16 years old in selecting the stories and framing the discussion), our true target is their parents. The realization that most modern-day kids consider reading to be a chore is a universal worry for most Russian-speaking families throughout the world. Russian culture has a stronger history than many others of valuing reading as a central, vital component of personal growth and character development. Consequently it is a strong parental concern, and we see this is fertile ground for the future direction and a guiding tenet of our show.
Our core team is made up of three people, living in three different countries:
- Host: school teacher from Saint Petersburg, Russia
- Music: composer and sound designer from Kiev, Ukraine
- Producer: software developer from Boston, MA
We also work with a number of professional theater and movie actors in Kiev and a voice actor in Boston who reads excerpts of English text that are sometimes incorporated into the discussion.
The host holds a PhD degree in Russian literature with over 35 years of experience teaching literature to school-aged children. He often holds public lectures on Russian literature in Saint Petersburg and regularly appears in the media.
The musician holds a dual degree from the Kiev conservatory — in music composition and sound engineering. He is the front man of popular Ukrainian rock band “Karna” and also has a solo project called Entree.
The show producer is a software engineer and father of two school age girls, resident in Boston, MA since 2001. Prior to that, he worked as a journalist for the leading Russian newspaper Kommersant.
In our inaugural episode the host explains why teaching children to read good books is essential. He uses the following quote from an Italian writer Gianni Rodari: “we do this not because everyone should be an artist, but because no one should be a slave”. These words are the quintessential reason behind the show’s creation. Living in three countries locked into a simmering ideological conflict (Russia, Ukraine, USA), we, the creators, see our work as the antithesis to the bigotry and animosity toward each other so prevalent in these societies. And although today we may be just a lone voice of pacification speaking up against powerful state-run propaganda machines, we believe that by teaching our listeners the timeless language of literature, we promote a common value system that will make the future of the new generation a little bit brighter.
The show is currently in its second season. Considering the fact that first season was produced with no commercial backing, we consider it a success: our episodes were downloaded more than 25,000 times in 100+ countries around the world. In its second season the show doubled its audience. We have received a multitude of positive reviews and have developed a loyal following. “The Green Lamp” is frequently listed among in the top charts in the Russian iTunes store and has been selected as both a “Noteworthy” and a “Featured” podcast by Apple curators.