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JON Scieszka has been named the United States’ first ambassador for children’s literature by the Library of Congress.

Scieszka’s job, a two-year appointment that comes with an annual stipend of US$25,000 (RM82,500), is to promote reading and literature among the young. He was a popular choice, as the selection committee felt that the author is someone that children can easily relate to.

In an interview with The New York Times, Robin Adelson, executive director of the Children’s Book Council of America, said, “There are a lot of phenomenal writers and illustrators out there, but we wanted ? somebody with charisma, who is comfortable travelling and speaking and who could reach children, parents, educators and speak to a roomful of librarians.”

Scieszka (pronounced Shess-ka) has already had considerable experience actively promoting reading as he founded and runs Guys Read (, a web-based literacy programme, which aims to motivate reading among boys (boys are biologically slower to develop reading and writing skills than girls) by connecting them to books they want to read: often, reading material that interests boys (non-fiction, joke books, comics, magazines, manuals) are not considered “worthy” by parents or educators.

As children’s literature ambassador, Scieszka will be able to reach out to an even wider audience. In The New York Times, he said, “People say, ‘All my son will read is Captain Underpants,’ or ‘My son is crazy about shark books, is that okay?’ I want to be the person to say, ‘Yeah, that’s really okay as long as he’s motivated to want to read.”

Scieszka is best known for children’s books that are funny, irreverent, silly and include fairly disgusting moments, which tend to endear them to young readers.

Here’s a brief guide to my four favourite Scieszka books, all of which are illustrated by Lane Smith: