Author Hopes to Rally Publishers to Help Promote Children’s Literacy: A Q&A with Jon Scieszka, the first National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature
Extra: Are books able to compete with the other forms of entertainment children have access to?
Scieszka: We’ve got the books that excite the kids. We just have to get them out there to the public. We’re fighting with the strong promotion that the other mediums have—we’re competing with TV, the Internet, computer games. [But] books can bring something that none of those other things can.
Extra: Do you see technology as the enemy?
Scieszka: I’m a real fan of technology. … I don’t want to demonize technology. … Kids have grown up with TV and computers. It’s part of their lives. We need … books to serve a better role in their lives. We have to be there with the great book stories. I think we can [help] kids understand that you can do all of those things together. You can read a book, and then go online.
Extra: Could it be that the [type of] reading that is being done by kids today is not the traditional form we associate with reading? In other words, is the definition of reading changing?
Scieszka: I think that’s directly to the heart of it. I’ve started a literacy group for boys called Guys Read (www.GuysRead.com). The more research I looked into, [the more data I found that] showed that boys are reading. It’s just not how schools define it. It’s not all novels. There are other kinds of reading. We should let kids read what they enjoy. There are graphic novels, and a lot of what kids want to read is nonfiction. …
Extra: At the end of your term, when you look back, what do you hope your impact will have been?
Scieszka: I hope more kids will be readers. …