Jake Marcionette was 12-years-old, he decided he wanted to write middle grade fiction for kids, by a kid, from a kid’s perspective. It’s been over two years since he signed with a literary agent, landed a book deal with Grosset and Dunlap (Penguin USA) and then saw Just Jake #1 make the New York Times Best Sellers list.
Today, he does a lot of motivational speaking to elementary and middle school kids.
His message is simple: He’s no different than you but, success, in anything, is predicated on hard work, relentless determination and doing what you love. Here are a few video clips of him speaking:
Today, we have Jake here at Unleashing Readers to share how he got to where he is now.
A Love for Reading Begets Passionate Writing
You can say I’m a big proponent of literacy. But I think a lot of people forget there are two components to the literacy equation: reading AND writing. I’m passionate about the latter but understand the critical importance of the former.
Let’s face it; reading is the glory boy of literacy. Reading is fawned over, hyped…it even has its own catch phrase “Reading is FUNdamental.” How do you compete with that? The answer is you don’t. Because reading is the cornerstone on which all learning and education rests and without it, future Shakespeares are unlikely to emerge.
As kids, we all have stories that need to be told. Our crazy thoughts, wild dreams, and creative interpretations reflect our individualism and personal journeys. I know there’s an inner author inside every kid but without first discovering the love of reading, the joys of putting pen to paper (or fingers to a keyboard) will be elusive.
So what about those students who have yet to discover the limitless world of reading? Are they precluded from becoming the next Patterson? Most likely YES but it doesn’t have to be that way. Perhaps all they’re looking for is the FUNNY!
As shocking as it may sound, I was once “that kid” who didn’t enjoy reading. Although I was indeed writing a lot at a young age, my writing didn’t turn the corner to “Passion Town” until I found books I didn’t want to put down. Thank you, Mr. Kinney!
I can personally attest that not every kid wants to read about gossiping mean girls, vampires, or books that encompass serious, teachable moments recommended by well-intentioned adults. A lot of kids just want to laugh.
When I discovered the not so nice Greg Heffley, his abusive older brother Rodrick, and gullible Rowley I went from a reluctant reader to a voracious consumer of books overnight. It was the spark that ignited the creative fire that had eluded me. I knew immediately that was the kind of real story I wanted to tell. And considering there weren’t many books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid (still aren’t) my focus became to put forth a comical, middle grade fiction series about school and life from a kid’s perspective.
Today, as the published author of the Just Jake series and a New York Times Bestseller, I’m provided with an incredibly rewarding platform. Being a firm believer that every kid can achieve greatness, I love visiting schools and getting everyone psyched up about life, finding your passion and putting in the hard work that it takes to be better every day. But the best part is when I hear from another kid that they now want to write their own book.
It being March and National Reading Month, I think it’s appropriate to keep in mind all the “reluctant readers” in your life and try to find the right spark to ignite their interest in the printed word. I’m no different than many other kids out there but without opportunity, potential is rarely discovered.
And if you’re looking for that one series that accurately (and hilariously) captures elementary/middle school life in a highly relatable context, perfect for grades 3rd-8th, Just Jake #1 might by the ticket. Forgive me! March is also the month of my shameless self-promotion as Just Jake #2: Dog Eat Dog‘s publication date is March 31st. Oh man…sorry! There I go again.
For all the teachers out there, you’ll be interested to know we’ve partnered with BigIQKids.com to create some awesome (and free) interactive learning lessons based on Just Jake #1 in the form of spelling and vocabulary lists and quizzes found here: http://bigiqkids.com/SpellingVocabulary/justjake.html
And, a very cool reading comprehension quiz with built-in game rewards found here:
Thank you Unleashing Readers (Kellee and Ricki) for this incredible opportunity. You guys rock! And if you’re interested in more information about me please visit www.JustJake.com . Lastly, I hope everyone can follow me on Twitter @Jake Marcionette!!!!!
Thank you Jake! You are such an inspiration!