Thursday, February 10, 2011

Good News for Tony Dirksen and Pam Withers!

Congratulations to fellow SCBWI-WWA members Tony Dirksen, and Pam Withers! They've started a new adolescent literacy foundation, Keen Readers; which will profile middle-grade and young-adult authors and review middle-grade and young-adult books. Based in Seattle and launched in February 2011 by the two SCBWI-WWA members, The Keen Readers Foundation addresses parents and mentors of reluctant readers, while also including a section for youths with author interviews, writing contests and book reviews. In February, the featured author is SCBWI-WWA member David Patneaude.
Most children can read, but "it takes a village to raise a child's desire to read," the site explains, "especially once that child hits age nine. Hence the so-called 'fourth-grade slump,' which if ignored can last through high school and beyond. It's our goal to support parents and mentors in helping youths become comfortable with reading. In today's information age, that's not an option; it's a key to success.
Keen Readers includes interviews with literacy experts and young-adult authors around North America, articles, book reviews, writing contests for adults and youth, an ask-an-expert column, a message board for parental discussions and an extensive list of links to more sources on reluctant readers and adolescent literacy.
Keen Readers also supports and donates books to reading-buddy programs across North America.

Tony Dirksen and Pam Withers met three years ago at a Great Critique session run by the Society of Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators in Seattle, then began carpooling to SCBWI-WWA meetings together. They discovered a common interest in promoting teen literacy and thought up the idea for the foundation last fall. The website's "About Us" section mentions the SCBWI-WWA connection, and hundreds of press releases sent out with the launch also mentioned SCBWI as the original source for the collaboration.
The more I traveled around North America giving talks to schools about being an author, the more I felt that was not enough. I wanted to get more deeply involved in teen literacy," she said. "My only beef with Tony is that he spent the two weeks before our launch on his honeymoon in England. Luckily, he returned happy and fired up to grow our foundation, which we feel is needed.
Withers and Dirksen welcome volunteers who would like to write articles or book reviews for the site, or apply to serve on its board. They'd also like to hear from the rare authors who were reluctant readers as children. Visit the Keen Readers website for more information about Tony, Pam, and what they're doing (you can also follow them on their blog, and on facebook)!! A big congratulations to you both!

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