Parents, rejoice! Even the planet’s best-selling author didn’t like to read when he was a kid. “I preferred to go out and run around and do sports,” recalls author James Patterson.
He may not be as well known as J.K. Rowling or John Grisham, but Patterson is king of the “beach read,” including the mega-selling Alex Cross thriller series, with more than 220 million books sold worldwide and, yes, a best-selling author of young-adult fiction.
How did Patterson morph from rambunctious kid to titan of the written tale? Something stirred him (though he wasn’t shaken).
“One of my friends got into the James Bond stuff in grade school, but he was one of the only kids who read,” recalls Patterson, who grew up in Newburgh, N.Y. It wasn’t until his years at Manhattan College that he caught the reading bug.
“I worked my way through college at a mental hospital, and I worked a lot of night shifts,” Patterson says. “I started reading like crazy.”
Now, Patterson, 64, who has a 13-year-old son named Jack, deploys much of his sizable energy trying to change the reading habits of the world’s children. In summer, “they’ve got time, they don’t have two or three hours of homework, and we need to change this notion that reading is a chore,” he says. “Reading is really pretty cool.”
Patterson is a big believer that the more kids read, the better they get at it — one impetus for writing Middle School, and the main reason behind ReadKiddoRead.com, his website dedicated to giving parents and teachers a resource for turning children of any age on to great books.
But for Patterson, home is where the good habits start.
“It’s the parents’ job to find books for kids that they’re gonna love,” he says. “A lot of parents don’t get that. One of my best friends’ wife died when his boys were young, and he did a great job. But it didn’t occur to him that it was his job to find books for the kids.”