National Ambassador for Children's Literature

by Lara Killian

1 December 2008

 

This past weekend, NPR ran a short piece on Weekend Edition where, as usual, I learned something new. Though it’s a bit tricky to find any information on it via Google, in January the Library of Congress appointed the first ever National Ambassador for Children’s Literature.

Sometimes I think you don’t realize you need a post like this until someone really great comes along to fill it. That someone is Jon Scieszka, author of some of the most clever kids’ lit since Roald Dahl.

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The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, told from the wolf’s perspective, has become a storytime staple, making kids laugh and also serving as a great lesson in point of view. Scieszka’s strength lies in realizing how smart kids really are, and how much they appreciate a funny book that doesn’t underestimate that intelligence. What little boy would turn down hearing a book called The Stinky Cheese Man and other Fairly Stupid Fairy Tales?

NPR’s piece features a short interview with Scieszka and it’s worth a listen for anyone interested in children’s stories – or in getting kids to read. They’ll be asking for these new classics again and again – and they’re smart enough for adults to enjoy, too.

Ambassador Scieszka’s term lasts for two years, so he’s almost halfway through. Although I’m sure he’s doing an admirable job promoting children’s literature as part of his current duties, it’ll be interesting to see who gets to fill his shoes in 2010.

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