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5 Questions With...Kate DiCamillo (Flora and Ulysses)

by April Hall
 | Mar 20, 2015

Kate DiCamillo is the perfect person to tap as an ambassador for literature and reading. As a child with chronic pneumonia, she poured herself into books when she wasn’t able to go out and explore the world. When she turned 29, DiCamillo began to write books herself and racked up the awards for Because of Winn-Dixie, The Tale of Despereaux, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, and more.

Writing every day and working for the Library of Congress as a “champion” keeps her busy, but DiCamillo was able to carve out some time to answer five questions.

Congratulations on becoming the very first National Summer Reading Champion! What are your duties with that position?

What I'm doing—encouraging kids (everywhere I go) to head to their public library and sign up for the summer reading program—is not really a duty as much as it is a pleasure. I was a kid who loved the summer reading program at Cooper Memorial Library, and I want kids to experience that same sense of joy and safety and possibility.

You are also the U.S. National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. Is that a very different role?

The ambassador role is about encouraging people to read together—parents reading to kids, teachers reading to kids, kids reading to parents, kids reading together. But the two roles certainly connect. Wouldn't it be great if everyone went to the local public library and read together there this summer?

That’s two face-of-literature positions. Why do you think you are tapped to represent reading in that way?

Aack. I don't know. Maybe it is because I get such joy from books, from reading. Hopefully, that joy is visible on my face.

You write two pages every day five days a week. How do you keep such discipline?

I have found that it is easier to be disciplined than it is to feel guilty/bad/sad about not doing the work. That is, it's easier to do the work than it is not to do the work. Also, life just makes more sense when I am writing.

What are you working on now?

I've got another Deckawoo Drive story coming out this fall (Francine Poulet Meets the Ghost Raccoon) and a novel coming out in the spring of 2016.

Busy, busy, busy ...

April Hall is editor of Literacy Daily. A journalist for about 20 years, she has specialized in education, writing and editing for newspapers, websites, and magazines.

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