Monday, January 11, 2010

"Bridge to Teribithia" author becomes literary ambassador

On Tuesday, the author of
Bridge to Terabithia becomes a national ambassador for young people's literature. In an article appearing in The New York Times, writer Motoko Rich reports that Katherine Paterson's advice to children is simple: read more. Here is an except from the article:

... Ms. Paterson, who is perhaps best known for the novel Bridge to Terabithia, said it was reading that informed her future writing self. As the daughter of missionary parents in China, she read her way through her parents’ library of children’s classics by A. A. Milne, Beatrix Potter, Robert Louis Stevenson, Rudyard Kipling, Kenneth Grahame and Frances Hodgson Burnett. “That is where the friends were,” she said, evoking her lonely childhood.

Now, as ambassador — a joint appointment by the Library of Congress’s Center for the Book and Every Child a Reader, a nonprofit group affiliated with the Children’s Book Council, a trade association for children’s book publishers — Ms. Paterson hopes to share the unfettered pleasure that reading can deliver. The main advice she’ll be giving adults: Read aloud to your children. “You can read out loud, and if you’re exhausted or crying so hard because you know that Charlotte is going to die in the next chapter,” she said, “you can turn it over to the kid to read the next part.” (That’s Charlotte’s Web she’s talking about, of course.)

Ms. Paterson, 77, succeeds Jon Scieszka, the author of subversive picture books like The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, who was the first writer to hold the ambassador’s post. James H. Billington, the librarian of Congress who will officially appoint Ms. Paterson on Tuesday, said that he was pleased with Mr. Scieszka’s reign and that he looked forward to Ms. Paterson’s putting her own spin on the job.

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