Today I was lucky enough to be invited to a Children’s Book Guild luncheon where the guest speaker was our own Ambassador of Children’s Literature, Jon Scieszka. Patrons of Hooray For Books! know him as the author of the Time Warp books, or the Trucktown books, or Stinky Cheese Man, Math Curse, Science Verse or any number of memorable children’s books. As you might imagine, he’s a very funny guy! He talked about his completely autobiographical book, Knucklehead, which chronicles Scieszka’s childhood in Flint, Michigan, with his parents and five (count ’em, five) brothers. This book is not meant for the faint of heart or those who stand on ceremony, but his stories made me laugh until I cried! Kids from 4th or 5th grade up (particularly boys) will get a real kick out of this book and perhaps be inspired to write down their own stories.
On a more serious note, Ambassador Scieszka spoke about the importance of bringing back a dedicated time for sustained silent reading in our schools. A former schoolteacher, Scieszka recalled watching students in his class during silent reading time — many would happily sit and read, but even those who didn’t want to read would resist for 10-12 minutes and finally pick up a magazine or book and start to read. Scieszka feels strongly that kids should feel good about any type of reading they do — magazines, cereal boxes, books, video game instructions, comics, newspapers — whatever! He wants to bring back the joy of reading to our kids. I guess that’s why he’s the Library of Congress’ Ambassador for Children’s Literature!