The evening was a chance to hear from a great line-up of authors beloved by most boys:
– Jack Gantos (author of numerous books including the Joey Pigza series),
– Jeff Kinney (of Diary of a Wimpy Kid fame),
– Jarret Krosoczka (well known for the Lunch Lady and Platypus Police Squad series),
– Jon Scieszka (of Time Warp Trio fame, also the great Guys Read series), and
– Gene Luen Yang (graphic novelist (American Born Chinese, Boxers and Saints, Secret Coders), comic book author, and current National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature).
Given the star-studded cast, the event was completely booked out, the hall was packed, and the evening felt like a comedy show featuring the authors’ humor and camaraderie in spades.
There were many memorable laugh lines and takeaways. But what I most wanted to share with you is the authors’ opinions on what adults can do to encourage kids to read:
“Model reading in your own home,” encouraged Jack Gantos, underscoring that what adults do is just important as what they say even when it comes to reading.
From Jeff Kinney: “Feed their interests.” Find out what your child enjoys, and follow his lead instead of forcing the reading selections.
“Gift books to expectant parents…Help fill their home with books,” said Jarret Krosoczka, encouraging parents to read to their children from day one.
“I would make a plea for funny books,” said Jon Scieszka. Don’t underestimate the power of humorous books and don’t be judgmental about them. If a child finds a funny book, he will be more likely to share it and talk about it with friends.
As for Gene Luen Yang, who has been traveling the country during his appointment as National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature (read my post), he encouraged folks to embrace the participatory experience that reading has become. He pointed to the trend of readers enjoying dressing up as their favorite characters, and the growing popularity of interactive events such as comic book conventions. I spoke to one boy who proudly shared that his school hosts an annual “wax museum,” where children look forward to lining the school corridors while dressed as their favorite character, fictional one semester and nonfictional the next.
Hankering for more information about what these authors had to say? Check out this video of the event (sent to me by a diligent reader – thank you reader!) You can also read this recent article in The Sun Chronicle.
As for me, I’ll leave you with just one more thought from the evening for now: If you’re ever in MA, consider driving out to Plainville to visit An Unlikely Story. It’s a gorgeous space, with a spacious cafe and a fantastic selection of kids’ books. Though it was a long drive for me, it was more than worth the trip. I’ll be heading there again soon with my boys in tow, and hope you will do the same with your kids too some day.
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