Throughout his term, Scieszka has searched for ways to reach reluctant readers. He strongly believes that the best way is to connect kids with reading that interests them, and to expand the definition of reading to include a wide range of styles: humor, fantasy, nonfiction, graphic novels, audiobooks and comics. His advice throughout his tenure has been:
* Let each child choose what she or he wants to read. I'll never forget my own son's reaction reading Little House on the Prairie (a favorite of many readers): "Are they really going to spend this whole chapter making a door?"In order to help boys find great books to read that connect with their interests, Scieszka founded GUYS READ. It's a great resource for parents looking for books that their boys might be interested in. I love the category headings, ranging from "How to Build Stuff" to "At Least One Explosion".
* Expand the definition of "reading" to include non-fiction, humor, graphic novels, magazines, action adventure, and, yes, even websites. It's the pleasure of reading that counts; the focus will naturally broaden. A boy won't read shark books forever.
* If a kid doesn't like one book, don't worry about finishing it. Start another. The key is helping children find what they like.
* Be a good reading role model. Show kids what you like to read, what you don't like to read, how you choose what you read. Let them see you reading.
* Avoid demonizing television, computer games, and new technologies. Electronic media may compete for kids' attention, but we're not going to get kids reading by badmouthing other entertainment. Admit that TV and games can do things books can't. Talk about how reading can make a world in ways that movies and games can't.
(source: The Huffington Post, 12/11/09)
The best thing about Scieszka's work throughout is his sense of humor. Whether it's in the little preschool trucks that just bubble over with enthusiasm about crashing into anything and everything in Smash! Crash!, or it's the brothers crossing swords as they pee together in the toilet in his autobiography Knucklehead. He knows how to make boys laugh, parents laugh, and teacher laugh.
So thank you, Mr. Ambassador, for all you've done for us over these past two year, but especially for making us laugh.