Take me to your reader
Scieszka is ambassador for children’s literature
By T. Foster Jones
JON SCIESZKA, THE AUTHOR of bestselling children’s favorites such as The True Story
of the Three Little Pigs and The Stinky Cheese
Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, has been
named the United States’ first national ambassador for young people’s literature.
The role calls for Scieszka (pronounced
SHEH-ska), the author of more than 25 books
in the last two decades, to be a spokesman for
the next two years, traveling and speaking to
groups of children, parents and teachers about
ways to increase reading among children.
The position dovetails with the National
Endowment for the Arts study “To Read or
Not to Read,” released last November, which
stated that reading is on the decline.
A former grade-school teacher, Scieszka
tells The Connection he hopes to reach out to
children who are considered reluctant readers. “There’s a huge population of kids who
would be or can be readers, but just choose
not to,” says Scieszka, who runs a Web-based
literacy program aimed at boys called Guys
Read ( www.guysread.com), which he founded
in 2001. “Kids see it just as a school activity.
Parents and booksellers and teachers are
dying for some help.”
Scieszka, a Costco member, who is also on
a book tour for his current series, Trucktown
( www.behindthepulse.com/trucktown), a multi-platform program of books and videos for
beginning readers, says that above all he hopes
to encourage parents and teachers to support
whatever re ading their kids want to do.
“People say, ‘All my kid will read is Captain
Underpants,’ or ‘My son is crazy about shark
books; is that OK?’ ” he says. “I want to be the
person to say, ‘Yeah, that’s really OK, as
long as he’s motivated to want to read.’ ”
Scieszka says he chose the theme
“reaching reluctant readers” as a
result of what he learned from Guys
Read. “I see this as an extension of
what I’m already doing now,” he says.
“What I found from working with
the Guys Read program is that what
applies to boys applies to almost any
reader. It’s important to find out who
each kid is, then
find out wh at he or
she enjoys reading.
“What I like to
tell people is that
they really need to
expand their definition of what reading is,” he continues.
“I think that’s the
first step, because
people are still a little leery about kids MARC BRYAN-BROWN
reading graphic novels or comic books or any
visual narrative. But if you work with kids,
like we have, you know that kids respond to
that stuff. Nonfiction, humor, online, magazines—it all counts!” C
COSTCO HAS FIVE signed copies of
Harlan Coben’s Hold Tight ($26.95),
two signed copies of Frank McCourt’s
Angela and the Baby Jesus ($17.99),
two copies of Christopher Wormell’s
Wings, Horns & Claws: A Dinosaur
Book of Epic Proportions with signed
bookplates ($18.95), one signed copy of
Bob Woodward’s State of Denial: Bush
at War, Part III ($30) and one signed
copy of Peter Greenberg’s The
Complete Travel Detective Bible
($17.95) to give away. To enter, print
the name of the book you’d like to win
and your name, membership number,
address and daytime phone number on
a postcard or letter and send it to: The
Costco Connection, P.O. Box
34088, Seattle, WA
98124-1088. Or send
an e-mail to giveaway@
costco.com, with the
name of the book you’d
like to win in the
No purchase is necessary.
Open to legal residents of the
U.S. (except Puerto Rico) who are age 18 or
older at the time of entry and who are current
Costco members. One entry per household.
Entries must be received or postmarked by July
1, 2008. Winners will be randomly selected and
notified by mail on or before August 1, 2008.
The value of the prize is in parentheses. Void
where prohibited. Winners are responsible for
all applicable federal, state and local taxes.
Odds of winning depend on the number of
eligible entries received. Employees of Costco,
Penguin Group, Simon & Schuster, Running
Press, Rodale and their families are not eligible.
The Costco Connection
Costco members will find a variety of
children’s and young adult books available
in most Costco warehouses and on