Friday, August 2, 2013

Jon Scieszka: The Importance of Being Subversive in Writing for Kids: Not Every Book Should Put You To Sleep

Jon Scieszka has touched a lot of children, especially boys.

He's our former children's book Ambassador, champion of guys reading. He's probably won some awards. He's definitely got excellent taste in bars.

Jon's first piece of advice for conference goers is to not listen to all of the advice one hears at the conference—after he's done talking, of course—stop listening elsewhere if your brain gets overloaded by all the amazing speakers you are about to hear.

Jon's just remembered the title of his keynote! And will speak on topic, a lovely change. Jon says:

"We are born subversive, kids are nuts, and that's who we are supposed to be writing for."

"You have to find your audience and know for yourself that your work is good."
"Go find some kids to tell your stories to, not just your nieces."

"Learn how to sit down and create."

Jon talks about being subversive all the time, in all professions, reading Kafka to the second graders he was teaching, and the wackier Tomi Ungerer books, Roald Dahl. Reading these books inspired Jon to get a bit nuttier in his own work, which lead to Stinky Cheese Man. Jon reads a rejection letter for The Stinky Cheese Man, a truly subversive book that disturbed a lot of editors before finding one really wacky one, and the book, as we know, went on to stir up loads of kids and win big.

If you haven't read Knucklehead yet, you really should, it's hilarious and gives you excellent insight into what it's like to be Jon and where many of his ideas come from. All proceeds of Knucklehead go to the Scieszka Family Psychiatry Fund. Based on his adolescence, Brother Jim probably uses the fund the most.

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