Jon Scieszka

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Jon Scieszka
Jon scieszka 8296.JPG
at the 2013 Bookfest
Born(1954-09-08) September 8, 1954 (age 59)
Flint, Michigan, United States
OccupationAuthor of children's literature
NationalityUnited States
Alma materAlbion College
Columbia University
Notable award(s)National Ambassador for Young People's Literature

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Jon Scieszka
Jon scieszka 8296.JPG
at the 2013 Bookfest
Born(1954-09-08) September 8, 1954 (age 59)
Flint, Michigan, United States
OccupationAuthor of children's literature
NationalityUnited States
Alma materAlbion College
Columbia University
Notable award(s)National Ambassador for Young People's Literature

Signature

www.jsworldwide.com

Jon Scieszka (SHCHEH-shka: which phonetically resembles the Polish word for "path," ścieżka) was born September 8, 1954 in Flint, Michigan and is an American author of children's literature, best known for his collaborations with illustrator Lane Smith. He is also a nationally recognized reading advocate, and the founder of Guys Read – a web-based literacy program for boys whose mission is "to help boys become self-motivated, lifelong readers." [1] In 2008 was named the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature by the Librarian of Congress.[2][3] His Time Warp Trio series, which teaches kids history, has been adapted into a television show.

Personal life[edit]

Scieszka is the second oldest of six sons born to Shirley Scieszka, a Registered Nurse, and Louis Scieszka, a former elementary school principal. He attended Culver Military Academy in Indiana for high school, Albion College in Michigan where he studied English and pre-med. for his B.A.., and Columbia University for a Master of Fine Arts in fiction writing. Scieszka currently lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn with his wife Jerilyn Hansen, an interior designer. His children, daughter Casey Scieszka and son Jake Scieszka, live in the neighborhood as well.

After graduating, Scieszka worked in a variety of capacities: teaching at an elementary school (mostly second grade), writing for magazines, painting apartments, and working as a carpenter and lifeguard.

Professional life[edit]

Jon Scieszka photographed
by Marty Umans

While pursuing his MFA at Columbia in New York, Scieszka painted apartments. He went on to teach 1st-8th grade at the Day School (currently the Trevor Day School) for ten years. In 1991 he started writing and touring full-time which he still does today.

According to Scieszka, he writes books because he "loves to make kids laugh."[4] Most of his best-known works were written in collaborations with illustrator Lane Smith, who does the artwork for Scieszka's words. Among their collaborations are The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and Math Curse. He is also the author of the Time Warp Trio series, for which Smith illustrated eight of the sixteen books. The series has been made into a television show. The design of many of Scieszka and Smith's collaborative works is attributed to Molly Leach, Smith's wife, including The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales.[4]

Scieszka is also the founder of Guys Read, a web-based literacy program for boys whose mission is ‘to help boys become self-motivated, lifelong readers.’ He was prompted to found the nonprofit in response to his experiences as an elementary school teacher and the United States National Assessment of Educational Progress statistics showing boys consistently scoring worse than girls on federal reading tests every year, at every grade level.[5]

In 2008 Scieszka was named the nation’s first National Ambassador for Young People's Literature by the Librarian of Congress. During his two years as Ambassador, it was his job 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.[6] For Scieszka, this meant traveling to schools, libraries and a variety of book related conferences to speak to people about engaging kids in reading through choice, an expanded definition of reading, positive role models, and embracing new technologies. He has also joked that being an ambassador gets him out of parking tickets.[7]

Books[edit]

Scieszka has written and edited a number of books for various publishers.

Picture Books[edit]

Series[edit]

The Time Warp Trio[edit]

For the article about the Time Warp Trio, see The Time Warp Trio
The Time Warp Trio Knights of the Kitchen Table. Puffin Books, 1991

The Time Warp Trio books are illustrated middle grade novels about three boys, Sam, Joe, and Fred, who travel through time and space with a magical book. The early books were illustrated by Lane Smith, the later by Adam McCauley. The books are published by Viking Press.

Trucktown[edit]

Scieszka was inspired to create the Trucktown series because he “really wanted to write something for all of those crazy little guys who didn’t think there was something out there for them to read.” [8] The Trucktown characters and backgrounds were created by the team of: David Shannon, Loren Long, and David Gordon. The over fifty-book Trucktown program includes picture books, “Ready-to-Roll” early reader books, board books, and a variety of activity books. The books are published by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing.

Picture Books

Ready-to-Roll

Spaceheadz[edit]

Spaceheadz Book #2! Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, 2010

Spaceheadz is a multi-platform story, told in 4 books, multiple websites, integrated blogs, social media sites, videos, ads, and user-created content. The books are published by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing. The story reveals how three aliens from the planet Spaceheadz disguise themselves as 5th graders in Brooklyn in order to sign up 3.14 million and 1 Earthlings to Be Spaceheadz and save Earth. The books are illustrated by Dreamworks animator Shane Prigmore. The extensive online storytelling is managed by Casey Scieszka and Steven Weinberg.

Memoir/Novel[edit]

Contributor[edit]

Editor[edit]

Guys Read[edit]

Guys Read Anthologies "Funny Business" and "Thriller". Cover art by Adam Rex and Brett Helquist respectively.

Guys Read, a web-based literacy program for boys whose mission is ‘to help boys become self-motivated, lifelong readers’ by bringing attention to the issue, promoting the expansion of what we call ‘reading’ to include materials like comic books, and encouraging grown men to be literacy role models. Scieszka says, “It kind of came out of my experience both as growing up a guy, for starters, and then going into elementary school teaching, where I found that the guy sensibility isn't really appreciated there, mostly that the world of elementary school is probably like 85% women -- teachers and librarians.” [9] As for how exactly to motivate boys to read more, Scieszka says. “I think the best way to do it is to give them things they like to read... What we haven't done with boys is we haven't really given them a broad range of reading. In schools, what's seen as reading is so narrow: it's literary, realistic fiction.” [10]

The Guys Read website includes a large list of “books that guys read”, instructions as to how to start your own Guys Read “field office” (or book club), a blog, and links to many boy-loved authors’ websites.[11]

Guys Write for Guys Read, the first book to come out of the nonprofit, is a compilation that features over eighty essays from noted authors who shared stories from their own childhoods. In 2010 Scieszka began editing a series of Guys Read books that are grouped by genre. The first was humor "Guys Read: Funny Business", the second is horror "Guys Read: Thriller". More are in the works.

Awards and recognition[edit]

On writing[edit]

In his autobiography, Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Almost True Stories of Growing Up Scieszka, Scieszka writes that his inspiration for much of his work comes from the "strange things" that happened to him while growing up with his brothers.[12]

In terms of the writing process, Scieszka creates outlines for the books of his Time Warp Trio series for structural reasons. When writing other books, however, Scieszka says, "Anything goes. Middle first, sometimes end, sometimes title, sometimes punchline."[13]

References in Media[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Welcome to Guys Read" GuysRead.com
  2. ^ "US Children's Literature Gets National Ambassador" VOA News
  3. ^ "National Ambassador for Young People's Literature" Children's Book Council
  4. ^ "Author Chat with Jon Scieszka" New York Public Library
  5. ^ "Gender Gap" EducationNext
  6. ^ "About- National Ambassador for Young People's Literature" National Ambassador for Young People's Literature
  7. ^ "Scieszka on Spaceheadz" Kirkus Reviews
  8. ^ "Children's Author Jon Scieszka Discusses the Inspirations..." Simon & Schuster
  9. ^ "AN INTERVIEW WITH JON SCIESZKA June 2005" Bookslut.com
  10. ^ "AN INTERVIEW WITH JON SCIESZKA June 2005" Bookslut.com
  11. ^ "Home Page" Guysread.com
  12. ^ Scieszka, Jon. Knucklehead. New York: Viking, 2008. 12.
  13. ^ "Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast" interview. Posted November 6, 2007.

External links[edit]