Thursday, January 3, 2008

National Ambassador

Hello for a quick post from the very chilly state of Maine...

Today I saw that Jon Scieszka, author of The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Stories, as well as other picture and chapter books, was named the first US National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. According to the Library of Congress website, the position "was created to raise national awareness of the importance of young people’s literature as it relates to lifelong literacy, education, and the development and betterment of the lives of young people." You can read about Scieszka and the position in this New York Times article (more here too). What do you think of this choice? What are some of your expectations for a National Ambassador for Young People's Literature? Scieszka is interested in reaching out to reluctant readers. What kinds of things would you do if you were National Ambassador?

2 comments:

Amanda said...

I'm interested in what Leo has to say about this, as he is friendly with Jon. I know he (Jon) has the reputation of being extremely charasmatic, which is of course a great trait for an ambassador. My hope is that he keeps really busy in this position, promoting the hell out of reading in creative ways. I'd love to see him actually on the Jon Stewart show--how cool would that be? Having put so much effort into reaching out to reluctant readers, hopefully he will continue to make reading appealing to kids who aren't naturally drawn to it. He seems to have the energy to really engage his audience. I'll be curious to see what he ends up doing and how much of it gets publicity. His position is compared to the Poet Laureate position, but I really know nothing about that, either. I guess I thought of that as an "honor" and not some active position. Anyway. Jess, I'm glad you brought this to our attention. I think it can only be a good thing!

Leo Landry said...

I'm excited for Jon -- I think he's a great choice for this new 'post.' Yes, he'll probably focus on reluctant readers, especially boys, but what's wrong with that? Do we really need another Katherine Paterson type (though I love her dearly) to blah blah blah blah blah?

One good thing going for him is that he can be highbrow or lowbrow, depending on the audience. So he's very versatile in that way, and yes, very charasmatic. Honestly, the funniest person I've ever known! I hope he really does take this on as an active thing... it looks like he's getting a 50,000. stipend over two years, presumably for travel, etc.

Of course, in the end, it'll probably end up selling millions more of his own books, so it's a little weird in that way, kind of like a built-in marketing appointment... but hey, that's the world we live in.