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the literacy ledgerReflections, findings, stories and the lowdown

Writers Changing Lives: A Chat With Daniel Pinkwater

April 6, 2011 By

 

Can someone fall in love with reading before he evens know how to read? Sure. Author Daniel Pinkwater did.

“I became involved with books and liking books and thinking books were fun before I ever learned to read,” Daniel told Worldreader, recalling some of his childhood memories about growing up in Chicago. “I was hooked on literature from the age of four or five because we played games in the backyard.”

In his neighborhood, where older kids usually watched over younger ones, it was common practice not only to re-enact significant historical events, but to also “Play Books” and perform scenes from well-known classics.

“What the kids decided to do in our complex of backyards is they organized us into a cast. We played the books the older kids were reading. We played The Three Musketeers, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Sometimes the older kids, to give us motivation and to inspire us, would read to us from the originals,” Daniel said. “It was my aspiration to become a good enough reader so I could read Mysterious Island in the original form without pictures.”

Encouraging kids to share knowledge with their siblings, families, and communities is a core Worldreader value. In fact, we’re already seeing how that wish combined with e-reader technology is having a ripple effect in our Ghana pilot program. Just take a look at what kinds of stories kids are already reading, talking about, and passing around.

Besides being a fan of digitally distributing books, Daniel, who has visited parts of Africa, was drawn to Worldreader’s mission. When Daniel heard about Worldreader through his agent who heard about us through Cory Doctorow (Cory’s interview will be posted Friday), he said his participation was a no-brainer. “I instantly loved the idea.”

Of the 100 or so books he has written, Daniel has donated to Worldreader several titles, including Lizard Music; Once Upon a Blue Moose; Neddiad; Yggyssey; Adventures of a Cat; Whiskered Girl; Irving & Muktuk: Two Bad Bears’ Bad Bears in the Big City; Bad Bears Go Visiting, and Bad Bear Detectives.

As someone who has read Moby Dick 17 times – “Any book I read, I’ve read the ink right off the pages,” he joked, Daniel hopes children will see the fun that comes from reading, something that certainly influenced his own life.

“I always had the association with books being pleasurable. In the very beginning, I knew there were these neat characters that had swords or did wonderful things. Gradually that feeling deepened and deepened. The excitement never went away. I just became more and more excited about books to the point where I finally had to write them myself,” he added.

To stay in touch with Daniel, write a message on his forum page.

Thanks for sharing your story, Daniel!  For more information about how Worldreader is bringing books to all in the developing world using e-readers, visit us at Worldreader.org.

One of the books Daniel has donated to Worldreader