2008-2009 National Ambassador for Young People's Literature
Jon Scieszka, 2008-2009 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, was the first writer to hold this position. During his two-year term, Scieszka created a platform with the mission to “get kids excited about reading. Recent surveys and statistics show kids reading less, and getting worse at it,” Scieszka said. “My experiences as an elementary school teacher, a children’s book writer, and the founder of a literacy initiative for boys called GUYS READ, have all taught me that kids will read if they are motivated to want to read. […] There is no one book that is right for all kids. But there are all kinds of crazy, interesting, and amazing books out there. It’s our job to help kids find that book that will inspire them to want to become readers.”
Jon Scieszka was born and raised in Flint, Michigan, and earned his Bachelor’s degree from Albion College, and Master of Fine Arts degree in fiction from Columbia University. He began his career as a teacher in primary and middle schools, eventually taking time off to develop ideas for children’s books, the first of which, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs!, was published in 1989 by Viking Books. The book sold over three million copies and has been translated in 14 languages since its publication. Scieszka is the winner of the Caldecott Honor Medal for his 1992 The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Fairy Tales, the 2013 recipient of the University of Southern Mississippi Medallion for outstanding contributions in the field of children’s literature, and the recipient of the 2020 Kerlan Medal awarded to outstanding writers and illustrators represented in the University of Minnesota’s Kerlan Collection of children’s literature.
In addition to The True Story of the Three Little Pigs! and The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Fairy Tales, Scieszka has written a variety of books for young readers, including illustrated books and multiple chapter books series. He has written the graphic-novel memoir, Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Almost True Stories of Growing Up Scieszka, the SPCHDZ series, and the Time Warp Trio series, which was also released as an animated television series that aired on Discovery Kids and Discover Family. Scieszka’s current project is the AstroNuts series, featuring a group of animals hybridized to find other planets for humans to inhabit once Earth is destroyed. The series includes full-color illustrations and how-to-draw pages to inspire readers of the series to use their own creativity to discover new adventures for the AstroNuts crew.
Scieszka is also well-known for his nonprofit literacy organization, “Guys Read,” which encourages letting boys choose what they want to read, as well as expanding our definition of “reading” by including genres like nonfiction, graphic novels, and humor in what and how boys read. Scieszka is committed to providing boys with male role models for reading at home and school, and has used his initiative to provide resources for parents, caregivers, and educators to help boys “choose something to read from all the different kinds of reading and tell some other guys about it.”
Scieszka lives with his wife, Jeri, in the Catskills and Brooklyn, NY.