Wednesday, February 6, 2008

All Hail Jon Scieszka!

You must immediately read this fabulous interview with Jon Scieszka (author of The Stinky Cheese Man) who has been named the first National Ambassador for Young People's Literature by The Children's Book Council and the Library of Congress.

Some excerpts:

It’s important to find out who each kid is, pay some individual attention to that kid, then find out what he enjoys reading. What I like to tell people is that they really need to expand their definition of what reading is. I think that’s the first step, because people are still a little leery about kids reading graphic novels or comic books or any visual narrative. But if you work with kids, like we have, you know that kids respond to that stuff.

I need some gear—laureate swag—and just to come out and be official and say, “Take a break. Comics are OK.” I love Lisa Von Drasek, the librarian at Bank Street College. She’s somebody who knows that you’re not watering down the curriculum when you use comics. If you work with a bunch of kids, like Lisa does, and you see the work that they put into reading a comic or decoding an entire graphic novel, you realize it’s spectacular stuff.
So why would we cut off our nose just to uphold some imaginary standards? And the same thing is true of a lot of other genres that used to be looked down on, like science fiction and fantasy.

The man makes sense. I hope his new title will make people listen!


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