Friday, March 1st, was Read Across America - A special day set aside to honor the birthday of our beloved author, Dr. Seuss - one during which schools, libraries and bookstores all around the country, hosted special events to encourage kids to read.
We now challenge you to extend that day into a week, month or even a whole year, by reaching out for books of varying genres. To get you started, here are suggestions of some authors you may have heard of, but avoided, because they didn't appear interesting. However, we assure you that each of them has written books that rival favorites like Hunger Games and Alex Rider - So go ahead and give them a try.
No matter where you live in the world, you have at some time or another been exposed to the works of British playwright and poet, William Shakespeare, which in itself, is a tribute to the amazing story-telling skills of a man that lived in the 15th century.
And while you may think he only wrote boring love stories like Romeo and Juliet or tragedies like Hamlet, he was actually more famous for his comedies - Plays such as The Comedy of Errors, a short story about two identical brothers separated at birth or As You Like It, the tale of young Rosalind who ran away from home to escape her tyrannical uncle and ended up living in a forest, where she of course, had lots of exciting adventures.
So be sure to check them out at your local library and while you are at it, also the interesting life of the author himself, who never edited a play once he wrote it and thanks to his receding hairline, often ended up starring in them too!
Long before Percy Jackson and Katniss, there was Tom Sawyer and his best friend Huckleberry Finn - Two school friends whose escapades have kept readers mesmerized since the books were first published in the late 1800's. The character of Tom was loosely based on Mark's own childhood, as well as, some memories of two other friends whilst that of Huckleberry Finn was shaped after his best pal, Tom Blankenship.
Not only did he write fun books, the author whose real name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens, also led a very interesting life. He was an inventor, with patents on a self-adjusting vest strap, a history game to improve memory and a self-pasting scrapbook. Unfortunately, the first two were way ahead of their time and the only one that he made any money off, was the scrapbook
Twain was also one of the inaugural passengers aboard the first 'luxury cruise' to Europe, an activist who fought for equality, long before it became fashionable and an ardent lover of cats. It is rumored that at one time, he owned as many as 19 of them.
Though his books are often described as the foundation of American literature, to Mark they were 'like water; (while) those of the great geniuses are wine. (Fortunately) everybody drinks water" - Which probably explains why young boys can relate to Tom and Huck, even today.
Responsible for penning classics like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda and James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl began his career, writing short stories for adults.
It was only 15 years into his profession that he decided to even attempt a kids book, something he had avoided thus far, because he believed that in order to keep kids interested in a book it had to be totally mesmerizing - Otherwise, they would just move on, to fun activities like . . . Television or in this era, video games!
But once he got going there was no stopping him. He wrote 19 masterpieces and while you may have read his more famous ones, there are probably some like The Magic Finger, a story about a girl with superpowers and The Twits, a hilarious tale about the ever-quarreling Mr. Twit and his glass-eyed wife, Mrs. Twit, that you may have overlooked - Something you might want to rectify, as soon as possible!
We know - You have read all the Harry Potter books and seen the movies at least once, if not several times, already. But what you probably don't know is that the life of the author who transported us to the magical world of fantasy, was equally interesting.
For instance, did you know that she was born in a place called 'Chipping', which is why she has a penchant for silly names or that 'Snape' was inspired by a mean elementary teacher who placed her with a group of children he considered 'dim'?
Another fun fact? The character of Ron Weasley is loosely based on her dearest high school friend Sean, who happened to own a turquoise Ford Anglia - A non-flying one of course.
As for her inspiration to start writing the now famous series? Came out of the blue, whilst on a train ride from Manchester to London. But since she did not have a pen or sketchpad to jot down her ideas, she simply set back and imagined the story unfold in her mind. By the end of the train ride, she not only had it all laid out, but also knew, that it would be a seven-book series.
While it may seem oddly confident for someone that had never published a book, for J.K. Rowling it was just something she expected - After all, this was a woman who had assumed that publishers would have been clamoring over a book she had written at the age of six if only . . . Her mother had been nice enough to submit it to them!
Resources: Who is/was J K Rowling, Dr. Suess, Mark Twain, William Shakespeare