Learning in Stories with Jake Halpern (014)

Dedicated to the memory of Mr. John Owen Toy (14 July 1944-22 July 2018), who electrified history for so many students. 

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Jake and I scheduled a phone date in May to catch up after he won a 2018 Pulitzer Prize. In the highlights of our conversation included in today’s show, we talk about storytelling as a project that has run through his wide-ranging work as a journalist for print and radio, and as a best-selling author of young adult fiction. He shares that contending with rejection is an important part of his work, and how learning keeps everything lively.

(Note to those listening with kids: A few salty words season this conversation between old friends, which is why I added the explicit icon to the feed info for this episode. I considered, but ultimately decided against censoring them.) 

Thanks as always to Shayfer James for instrumental versions of his songs in the intro ("Weight of the World") and outro ("Villainous Thing") music. In addition, this episode showcases an instrumental version of "Tiny Gods" from Shayfer's album Haunted Things

Supplementary Materials

Jake’s impressive catalog of print journalism, radio pieces, nonfiction books, novels and more may be explored on his website, which also includes fuller biographical information.

Jake saluted City Honors School English teacher Mr. James Duggan as someone who really listened to students, noting how important that was to him as a student. Research and experience support this critical role that teachers play in our development. 

Here's the website created by the New York Times to showcase the Pulitzer Prize-winning comic by Jake Halpern and Michael Sloan. 

Jake’s 2015 talk about his book Bad Paper (2014) for the American Bankruptcy Institute. As I mentioned during our conversation, he tells some pretty wild stories from reporting the book! 

From the 30 April 2012 issue of the New Yorker, Jake’s story about what happens when $20 billion dollars of treasure is discovered in southern India. 

Jake’s Fresh Air interview with Dave Davies from 9 October 2014.

John Oliver chose to use a clip of Jake for a 5 June 2016 cover story on the debt collection business. 



Peter Horn