'The Ambassador' on boys and books

Children's author Jon Scieszka had everyone laughing at the National Book Festival on Friday night when he told his audience that, as he was a child, he became intrigued by "strange books at school about an 'alien' family."

"There was a boy, two girls, a mom and a dad and they talked in the weirdest way," Scieszka said. "Instead of saying `Hey, look at that dog,' they would say `Look. Look. See the dog. That is a dog."

Most of us who grew up anywhere from 1950 to 1980 will have no trouble recognizing the Dick, Jane, and Sally books as the source of Scieszka's "alien family."

But Scieszka, who, in addition to being the author of such mega-hit kid's books as "The Stinky Cheese Man" and "Squids Will Be Squids," has also been named National Ambassador for Young People's Literature by the Librarian of Congress, also had some serious words about how to get boys to read.

In the Washington Post, Scieszka is quoted as saying that our definition of reading must be expanded beyond fiction. Boys would rather read "nonfiction or humor, graphic novels, science fiction, action adventure, audio books, or online reading and magazines," Scieszka says.

He goes on to recommend Sterling Point Books' redone autobiographies for older kids and Mo Willems' Elephant and Piggy for younger ones. Other winners in his book: Tony DiTerlizzi's "Kenny and the Dragon", "Fog Mound Chronicles" by Susan Schade and Jon Buller, Eoin Colfer's "Artemis Fowl" books; Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson's "Neverland", Neil Gaiman's "The Graveyard Book" and Corey Doctorow's "Little Brother".

For more Scieszka recommendations, check out his Guys Read website at www.guysread.com.

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