When the first Alex Rider book came out ten years ago, it became a global bestseller. The reluctant teenage superspy was credited with helping to cure many reluctant readers. Alex Rider and his exploits turned a whole generation of teenage boys onto reading for pleasure.
Today The Book Chook is visiting Kids’ Book Capers to talk about the importance of literacy and why the Alex Rider books have been so effective in getting kids to read. But first of all, she’s going to talk a bit about what she does.
Can you give us a bit of background about why you set up The Book Chook blog and established your e-zine, Literacy Lava? What is Literacy Lava and where can people get it?
http://www.thebookchook.com is The Book Chook blog,
I set up The Book Chook blog because I was getting closer to my goal of becoming a children’s writer (or so I thought!) and I knew I needed an online presence. However, it didn’t make much sense for me to blog about children’s writing when my only published credits were in travel magazines.
I read an article that suggested bloggers find their passion and write about that. I have many passions, but the one that was closest to writing was children’s literature and literacy. I began writing children’s book reviews and bringing parents tips and ideas to help with kids’ learning.
Literacy Lava grew from my desire to reach more people with my message about encouraging kids to read, write and communicate with creativity. I have an amazing group of contributors who come from different backgrounds, but who all share my passion and are keen to reach out to parents and teachers.
The fifth issue of Literacy Lava a has just been published, and is now available for download from Susan’s website.
You are a passionate advocate of literacy, can you tell us why you think it’s so important?
I think literacy is the magical key to children’s future success. If children love to read, write and communicate, they have the building blocks they need for future learning. Literacy impacts all other subjects. Being able to read not only helps kids learn, it allows them access to other people’s dreams and fuels their own dreams.
Where does this passion for literacy come from? Is it a professional or a personal thing or both?
I taught in Primary schools in NSW for 25 years, and I taught ESL in China. I loved both jobs, especially being able to share my love of books, poetry and drama. Before that, I was a reader/writer/communicator, often found perched in the Jacaranda tree with my nose in a book, or bossing the neighbourhood kids into staging Robin Hood among the gum trees. So both personal and professional I guess.
The Alex Rider books have sold over twelve million copies worldwide and been translated into 28 languages.
Why do you think Alex’s reluctant teenage superspy character appeals to so many readers?
Alex Rider is not only who we want to be, he’s real enough to almost be who we are. I think Horowitz gets it exactly right with Alex.
Alex Rider has a lot of ingenious gadgets. Do you think this is part of his appeal for readers?
Absolutely! Aren’t we all fascinated by how things work, inventions, technology? I know I am.
Next week at Kids’ Book Capers, The Book Chook will be back for an in depth look at why Alex Rider has been so successful in encouraging boys to read. There will also be a review of Crocodile Tears by Lachlan aged 12.
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