Please welcome Jon Scieszka to GreenBeanTeenQueen! Mr. Scieszka is celebrating the release with Spaceheadz which fits perfectly with his Guys Read promotion. I'm a big supporter of Guys Read-I have the book and I booktalk it all the time (I can't wait for the new ones!), we have a Guys Read shelf in the library, and I use the Guys Read website a lot with my readers. Here's Mr. Scieszka to tell you more exciting things to expect for Guys Read:
I grew up with 5 brothers (no sisters).
I read everything I could – from Dr. Seuss to encyclopedias to cereal boxes.
I taught elementary school for 10 years in NYC.
I raised a daughter who loves to read, and a son who doesn't.
As a teacher and parent and writer, I started seeing all kinds of boys who weren't interested in reading. I wanted to find out why. So in 2000 I started doing some research on boys and reading . . . and was most shocked to find that there really wasn't any.
There were plenty of tests showing boys consistently performing worse than girls . . . at every grade level for every year of testing. But even that data was only accidentally split out by gender.
So I started the non-profit online literacy campaign for boys' literacy called GUYS READ at http://www.guysread.com/. Our modest goals were to:
• first, get people to understand that there was a problem with boys and reading;
• second, to try to inspire some discussion and real research into the problem;
• and third, to try to offer some practical tips to help boys connect with reading.
Now, 10 years later, it's very exciting to see both a public understanding that this is a problem, and an ongoing discussion of the problem. GUYS READ has also evolved to realize that we can provide the most help by gathering texts that other guys have enjoyed reading and passing that passing that along.
I've also managed to boil down 10 years of research and a lifetime of being a boy and reading with boys to 4 practical tips to engage any readers, but particularly the hard-to-reach boys:
1. Expand the definition of "reading" to include graphic novels, science fiction, humor, magazines, online text, comic strips, wordless books, non-fiction, audio books . . .
2. Include the reader in the choice of what interests them.
3. Show boys more male role models as readers.
4. Embrace technology instead of demonizing it. Video games and TVs computers certainly compete for kids' time. But they are not inherently bad. There are good TV shows and bad books. It is our job to help kids become critical thinkers and consumers of all media.
I'm very excited about the newest GUYS READ project. I'm assembling a multi-volume library of original short stories grouped by genre. Each book will contain 10 stories by the best authors, each story illustrated by a single killer illustrator per volume. The idea is to gather a collection of such great reading that any boy will be able to find something he really wants to read.
Volume 1, GUYS READ: FUNNY BUSINESS will be released September 21st. And I have to say it is one of the funniest books I've read in a long time. Great writers like Eoin Colfer, Christopher Paul Curtis, Kate DiCamillo, Jack Gantos, and more. Hysterical illustrations (and also a story) by the incomparable Adam Rex. This book video by our editor Jordan Brown has to be seen to be believed.
Volume 2, GUYS READ: MYSTERIES & THRILLERS is in the works now. NON-FICTION, SCI FI/FANTASY, and ACTION/ADVENTURE to come.
I think we've reached the understanding that boys and girls sometimes engage with texts in different ways. That doesn't have to be a value judgment. And we don't have to freak out. Now we can just use that knowledge to connect more kids with reading in a more meaningful way.
About the author: Jon Scieszka is the first National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, named by the Library of Congress. He is the author of some of the best known and funniest books written for children including The True Story of the
Three Little Pigs, The Time Warp Trio series and the Caldecott Honor Book
The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Fairy Tales. He is the
creator of the Trucktown series, of which Smash!Crash! was an NY Times
bestseller for many weeks. Jon is a former elementary school teacher, and a
avid promoter of literacy-particularly for boys. His website
www.guyssread.com focuses on his national campaign. Jon lives with his
family in Brooklyn, NY.