On The Onion … and Deviant Reading Behavior
Fortunately, the industry isn’t waiting until the Philip Meyer story evolves from satire to widespread truth. The “Get Caught Reading” campaign, sponsored by the Association of American Publishers, comes to mind as one of the more well-known literacy efforts (even Yoda “got caught” reading during 2007’s Get Caught Reading Month!). The National Education Association’s Read Across America, which launched more than a decade ago, is another one. Of course, there are other national efforts, as well as many, many local efforts.
This year, a new national advocacy effort was launched in January, with the Library of Congress’ Center for the Book, the Children’s Book Council (CBC) and the CBC Foundation appointing Jon Scieszka as the first-ever National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. Coughing up funds for the effort are a number of major publishers, including Penguin Young Readers Group, Scholastic, HarperCollins Children’s Books, Random House Children’s Books, Holiday House, Charlesbridge, National Geographic Children’s Books, Candlewick Press and Marshall Cavendish Publishers.
Fortunately, Scieszka’s perspective suggests that Philip Meyer’s story will remain in satire for some time, but he’s not leaving that to chance. In a recent interview with Book Business Extra, he said, “I’ve started a literacy group for boys called Guys Read (www.GuysRead.com). The more research I looked into, [the more I found data 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.”
I have to say I can relate wholeheartedly to his point and can offer my first-hand perspective on the fact that kids may not be reading what we might expect them to read. My 12-year-old stepson is reading something right now that is definitely not literature. It’s not a graphic novel. It’s—and I am not being satirical—The Onion’s “Our Dumb World: Atlas Of Planet Earth.” Must be a classic case of deviant behavior.