Kids love Jon Scieszka. I have never had a group of students resist laughing while sharing a Scieszka tale. He has a special way of hooking the reluctant reader. Therefore, it was not surprising when the Library of Congress officially declared him the U.S. National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. He is traveling around the country speaking to parents and teachers about reading, conveying the same message I work to instill within my students: The way he sees it, parents and teachers should:
•Give children freedom to choose what they want to read rather than what adults think they should read.
•Expand the definition of reading to more than novels. “Nonfiction, graphic novels, comic books, magazines, online, audio books—I think all that works. It all helps turn kids into readers.”
•Stop demonizing other media. “Don’t make computers and TV and movies the bad guy. Those things aren’t going to go away. I think we did ourselves a disservice in the past of saying TV is bad, reading is good. It’s not that cut and dried.”
Scieszka calls himself “a fan of stupid reading.”
“I’ve been a big champion of stuff like ‘Captain Underpants’ and ‘Junie B. Jones,’ ” he said. “It horrifies some parents and teachers because it is not grammatical and there are misspellings, but that is fun reading.”
And fun, he said, is the ticket to getting youngsters to read, especially those children for whom reading is difficult.
Jon taught grades 1st through 8th for quite a few years, spending the greatest time in second grade. He has the experience with teaching reading and other skills to know what kids like!