tv U.S. Senate CSPAN November 27, 2014 6:59pm-8:01pm EST
take this long. it has certainly been a feast for lawyers and other folks who are engaged in a sort of battle of experts that occurs over every one of these sites. even given all that, i am not sure that there would've been a good alternative and we needed to do something in the bottom line is superfund has taken a long time. it's been incredibly expensive. but these sites are being remediated here they are being cleaned up. the toms river sites are great examples. either of them are clean yet. there will be contaminated water being pumped out and treated for at least another 12, 15 years in both cases. but those sites are much, much cleaner than they were. that's a good thing. >> host: do you drink public water in toms river when you're down there? >> guest: i do. i have no reason at all to be concerned about the current state of water supply in toms
>> best-selling author james patterson appeared at a meeting of new york city middle school principals to talk about tools they could use to inspire nonreaders and reluctant readers. he donated 45,000 copies of his book as part of the effort. this is about 50 minutes. >> i was coming in the door, and somebody asked me if i was james patterson, and i thought about it for a second -- [laughter] and then i said, why, because he owe you money? >> i was coming in the door. if somebody asked me if i was james patterson. i thought about it for a second. principal's office, except that you're at my office today. and i came here to -- and i think this also is just another way of looking at things -- to help you save lives. and as carmen said, to turn everybody here into even more of a reading missionary.
not listeners. i mean, we're going to listen here, okay in and i'm going to chitchat, but doers. and that's a hard thing in life because sometimes we think if we listen, it's enough. it's nothing. and i sort of dedicate, my wife sue and we dedicate what we do to doing, making sure that we're doing things. and i'll talk a little bit more about that. and as principals, you're in a position to do really terrific things. you're definitely in a position to save lives. and sometimes you don't realize that i have a friend who he was, he taught special classes up in westchester for 30 years or so. and i met a young guy who had been in his class, and i mentioned this guy to him. he said, oh, that kid, he was just impossible. but from this kid's point of view, he said mr. mahoney saved
my life. and sometimes you never hear that story because these kids grow up and get a little older. but you have to believe that's a what you're going to do. and in terms of reading, better reading produces better thinkers because they're exposed to more things, ultimately, better citizens, better spouses which is really important and we see that, you know, thank god in a weird way for the nfl x. it's not an nfl issue, it's an american issue. but better spouses come from better -- better mothers and fathers come from more reading. and, you know, on the one piece there are kids who are bright, and the more we -- the bigger breadth that they have, the better thinkers they become. but even more important are our kids who are at risk and that they don't become competent readers. i'm not even interested in them becoming readers for life, that they become competent readers. if they aren't we e tent, how --
competent, i how are they going to get through high school? reading is the foundation of everything. we know that kind of, but we don't leave it. if you cannot read competently, you can't do science, you can't do history, you can't do english, you probably aren't able to get a job, or at least it's going to be hard for you. your chances in later life are not great. and, you know, we've all noticed this on personal levels that the world is getting tougher. and it seems to me the world is getting meaner. and neither of those things are great. now, of course, you all kind of know that, we all kind of know that, but we don't act on it as much as we should. here are a few things that you don't know. my mother was a teacher for 45 years. newburg, new york. tough town, tough schools, tough place to grow up.
still is. i was a high school valedictorian, got 780 on my sat in reading. had a fellowship at vanderbilt, graduate fellowship. but i was a reluctant reader. i did read about a million comic books as a kid. that's really kind of how i learned to read. and that's okay up to a point. then when i was around 19, i started working my way through college at a mental hospital just outside of cambridge, massachusetts, and i worked a lot of times i worked the 11 to 7 shift, and most nights there wasn't a lot to do, thank god. the nights when there was a lot to do, it was a little hairy. but on the other nights, i started reading like a mad person. and i read john barryman and john cheever and john steinbeck
and john irving and john garth and john -- can't read my own handwriting. [laughter] and that's just some of the johns. and i read gunther gras. i don't know any other gunther writers. [laughter] the important thing was suddenly i was reading what i wanted to read. that was heavy stuff, i but that's what i wanted to read. i wanted to read difficult plays and poetry and difficult writers. and that's how i fell in love with reading. because up to that point, i wasn't a big reader. i was a decent reader, i was a good reader, but somehow in grade school and high school it just didn't turn on for me. and, you know, in those days the typical, the english class you'd come in, read the first 40 pages of king lear. you'll be tested tomorrow.
read middle march. read lady chatterly's lover. now, they never asked us to read that. [laughter] that one i would have wanted to read. and the result was, we have to do this now with common core and some things that help in some ways and don't in others, i didn't get turned on to reading, i didn't get turned on to writing. let me go back to shakespeare for just a second, the king lear thing. once again, when i'm growing up, you know, we're having to read hamlet, king lear, whatever, but we're not turned on to it. and i gave a class in high school, and what i did i was i had everybody stand up on their seats. and i said we're going to read a little bit from hamlet, but i i want you to understand what the situation is in england. first of all, in london in this period everybody was going to the theater which was really
weird. that was not happening anywhere else in the world, but for some reason theater had really caught on in london. there were all of these theaters, most of which would burn down every year, but more than half the population was going to the theater on a weekly basis. these theaters were nuts. they were loud and noisy, and there was a lot of drinking and other stuff going on. so the actors had to get the attention of the people. that's why i have you up on your seats, standing up on your seats, and now i i want you to read at the top of your voice because you've got to get attention. you principals would be down shutting me down after about five minutes of these kids screaming hamlet at the top of their voices, but they were beginning to get it a little bit. a little frame of reference. i said, look, i've got to talk history for just a few minutes here, not too much, but just enough so you understand what the scenario was because shakespeare wrote about history a lot. i'd covered the walls with all
of these phrases and words and whatever. and i said shakespeare made up all this shit. [laughter] i didn't say that. all these phrases, these word, he made it up? yeah. he just made it up. he made up the word "road." suddenly these kids are a little interested as opposed to here's king lear, read 40 pages, you'll be tested. or the kind of shakespeare's really important, and you must love him. well, says who? seriously. you're going to make me -- i've got to feel that. i've got to come to that conclusion. you can help me. i have a 16-year-old, jack. went jack was 5, he wrote his first novel, illustrated. "death of the butterfly catcher." butterfly catcher gets on a plane, travels halfway across the world, doesn't catch the butterfly. he gets on a boat, travels,
doesn't get the butterfly. gets on a train -- jack loves trains -- catches the butterfly. train stops, he gets off the train. another train -- butterfly catcher catches the butterfly, gets off the train, isn't looking, gets hit by a train governor going the other day. butterfly flies away. excellent. [laughter] beginning, middle, great end, the kid has it all. but jack was not a big reader when he was younger. and the summer when he was 8 sue and i decreed that jack had to read every day. and cruel, i know, inhuman, old school. jack didn't have to mow the lawn, but he had to read every day 40 minutes, whatever, longer than that if he wanted. but the key was that sue and i went out and helped find, helped jack find books that we knew he would like or we thought there was a good chance he would like them. and to some extent -- and,
obviously, it's not going to work with everybody, but that's what parents need to do, what grandparents need to do, it's what aunts and uncles need to do. my house, my grandmother was the key for me. and it's somewhat important that they get some of this at the school. people say you've gotta do this, you know? because -- and this is a big thing for the lightbulb to go off for a lot of parents -- it's not the school's job to find books for your kids. it's the parents' job. they need to hear that. it's your job, not my job. i'm going to help them along, but you've got to do -- that's your job. and, you know, most parents, not all, but most wouldn't send their kids out into the world with a handicap that you could do manager about. and sending -- do something about. and sending your kids out into the the world, kids who aren't competent readers when you can do something about it is like breaking their legs and sending them out into the world. it's a dumb thing to do.
and parents, now, i'm not saying this is what you have to say because you'll get fired -- [laughter] and nobody can fire me. well, michael can fire me, but parents need to think about stuff in a way that wakes them up. because it's not that -- there's a reason why zombie things are so popular, because we're kind of zombying around, you know? and they're not thinking people are not stupid, it's just they're not thinking about stuff. people aren't helping them to think about -- you gotta take care of your kids. you've got to do a better job. and as i said, i know this isn't going to work in a lot of situations, but it will work in many situations. and so what sue and i did, we did some research on books, and then we tried to find books that we thought jack would o, and we went out with him. and you know what? at the library they're free. so there isn't any big excuse. at the library these books are
free. or in some cases parents can go to the local bookstore if they have the money. and we went looking for books that we felt he would love, and that's important because kids say the number one reason they don't read more is because they can't find books that they like to read. and there once again, you can help will. you can help. i have this site readkiddoread.com. it's very useful. you can make a judgment on it in five minutes. there's 5-600 books on there, they will all turn kids on, and you can go on there or your school library and if you have one can go on there, and you can find a lot of books that are going to turn kids on. it's not about my books, it's about other people's books. [inaudible conversations] realizekiddoread.com. -- readkiddoread.com. it's a good site, and you can make a judgment in about five minutes whether you find it useful.
so the books we found for jack included the first percy jackson, which he liked a lot. i hate to give rick rear done, you know, whatever -- a wrung l in time, al capone does my shirts, one of my maximum rides, moby dick. no, we didn't ask him to read that when he was 8. but jack's response initially was do i have to, and we told jack, we said, yeah, unless you want to live in the garage, you know? and then we told jack, we said we read in our house. we read in our house. and that's a sentence to hangover the front door of every school in this city. we rad in this school. that -- we read in this school. this is a lot of things people put on monuments or whatever, and some of them mean something to people, some you don't even see them. we read in our school, big banner. yeah, that's cool. that's a great thing. parents could put on a bumper sticker of their car right above
my student is an honor student at wherever, which is fine. yeah, we read in our house. that's very cool. shea stadium up on the wall somewhere, new york reads. yankee stadium, top of the empire state building on a big flag, new york reads. because we can get new york reading a lot more than they do if we think big, if we don't just swat at the problem. and just that notion. give me a we realize in our house. let me hear it. we read in our house. >> you guys are so shy. we read in our house, yeah. >> we read in our house. >> i don't believe you but, yeah, some of you probably do, but it's a doable thing. [laughter] at any rate, by the following summer jack was a pretty big reader, and when he took his sats, he got an 800 in reading. there's where it can go in some cases, but even more important
are these kids who are trouble where if we can get them to be competent readers, because how are they going to read science? history? it's too hard. and they're right when they say it's too hard, because it is. and just this notion of the more you read, the better reader you become. it's just so simple. and another thing which i think is important, and this is a tough one given what's going on lately, but reading does not have to be work. reading can be fun. reading should be fun. reading should be joy. reading should be joy. we just filmed -- i had this idea, and we filmed it, a pilot in hollywood, and it's about the joy of the arts. and it's very comical and a lot of funny stuff in it, but it's about the joy of visualizing, the joy of dance, the joy of books. and that's the important thing, because it's got to be presented
to kids as a joyful thing. and reading should be one drug that we legalize. let's legalize reading in this city, you know? [laughter] sometimes i give talks in schools and i'll say who likes soccer? yea, we like soccer. oh, we're better now. how come? we play a lot. okay. same with reading. same with reading. you read a lot, you get better at it. you know, carmen was talking about getting kids up in front of the school, you know, once in their time there. get 'em up, all of 'em up every year a couple times. every assembly, put 'em up there. it's going to be difficult, make it easier for them to do. just get used to concern i ran an advertising agency, and i was very shy about standing up in front of people. i did it a lot, i get better at it. i'm not so good, but i'm better. same with kids. if you stood up in assembly a
dozen times, you get a little bit more comfortable. you're always going to be a little nervous, but if you've done it a lot, you get better at it. here's a scary fact. there are millions and millions of kids in this country and in new york city who have never read a single book that they love. we give away books in our county in florida, and what has evolved there are book clubs. book clubs really, really, really, really work well. i do the same thing at vanderbilt. we go out into nashville, and we bring kids in ever saturday and all summer. and it ultimately goes to reading book clubs. and what happens if the school is involved, if the principal is involved, if you get the teachers involved, is that the kids start prodding. you haven't read the next three chapters? now, they have to be cool bookings. they've got to be books the kids
are going to read and go, you know -- and they talk about it. and in florida the teachers are amazed the kids, they can't believe it, are reading books this thick. they've never read -- they read books like this. they wouldn't even pick up a book this thick. and all of a sudden because they're talking about it, and one of these towns we work on, it's most violent small town in america, and it's worked there. and this is, this is a town with 45% unemployment. and all these kids are reading. it's pretty terrific. and their reading scores go up. even scarier is the fact that in some states government officials plan teacher prison construction based on third and fourth -- future prison construction based on third and fourth grade reading levels which is really sad, and it's dragging this country down. that kind of thing is obviously dragging this city down. if this is the greatest city in
the world, if this is -- i'm not saying it isn't, if it is -- why are we producing so many kids who can't read? how can that be the greatest city in the world? that has to be one of the criterion when we're voting, let's see, for lynn, stockholm, new york, how are they doing in reading? somebody was telling me what they're allowing $6 per kid for library books. is that what it is? something like that? are you kidding me? come on. that's insane. kids need to realize because there is nowhere, not on tv, not right now, knot no the -- not in the movies, not in newspapers where kids can meet so many different kinds of people and learn their different stories and begin to understand who they are, who these people are are and accept who these people are and how they live as they can in
books. books are full of diversity. and presented in compelling ways. stories, you know, the common core, the core of the common core has to be stories, in my opinion. let me tell you a couple book stories. as i said, my so-called writing career begins like this: i'm in a mental hospital outside cambridge, massachusetts. i'm working my way through college, honest. i'm an aide, i wasn't a patient there. [laughter] the singer, james taylor, was a patient when i was there. he wrote "fire and rain" and "sweet baby james" at the hospital. the poet robert lowell checked in regularly when i was working there. ray charles used to have to check in. his deal was he'd been convicted of heroin possession, usage, whatever, and the deal was anytime he played boston, he had to check into this hospital for,
like, three days, and he would just come in and play the piano. so that was great. and there was a terrific story there pretty much every day. i remember one time i came in and one of my best friends was the charge nurse. and the nurses' station, they were putting plexiglas windows -- there were windows all around, and they were making it plexiglas, and i go, maria, what's with the plexiglas? there was this kid, i'll call him j.c., he was on double specials which meant that two aides had to be within arm's length of him. and as we're watching, as stories will go, he takes off in a dead run, the aides are running after him. he gets about 8 feet from the nurses' station and goes head first into now the plexiglas windows because he'd already taken out four of the windows in the past week. he gets knocked out for about ten seconds, and he comes too and goes, who the hell put those in there, you know?
[laughter] you did. and i just said to myself, and i was reading a lot, and i said i have to start writing this stuff down. and i must have written about 100,000 short stories, and malcolm gladwell was writing his book "the outliers" about it taking 10,000 hours to get decent at anything. i remember my first kind of constructive criticism came at man hat san college where i went -- manhattan college where are i went undergraduate, and i was told you write okay, but stay away from fiction which is probably terrific advice. but, of course, given that encouragement, i went and sat down and wrote a novel. 31 publishers turned it down, some with extreme prejudice, which is a cool story to tell kids, i mean, that kind of thing. but the good part was the book was published, and then it won an edgar as the best american first mystery of the year, this same book that got turned down by 31 publishers or. i keep a file with the names of the editors who rejected the
manuscript -- [laughter] sometimes they send me books for blurbs. and i'm a nice guy, so i give them the blurbs. i was 26 years old, life was pretty darn good. but here's the catch: my first bestseller didn't come for another 15 years. and i remember i was living in new york, and i picked up the new york times book review, and the book was number six on the times, and i said this must be a misprint, because my books don't get on a new york times best seller. so i went to a local bookstore, and what we'll do, writers, is we'll go in, and we count the books. there used to be 12 -- so i'm counting the books, and there used to be 15, now there's like 10, so maybe this is accurate about "the new york times" list. and the other thing we'll do is if we're in an airport store and you pick up the book, we watch you. we're unobtrusive, standing off -- [laughter] just kind of watching.
if you buy the book, it makes our day. even now. you buy -- makes my day. if you put the book back, it breaks our heart. so while i'm in this bookstore, this come picked up this book, "along came a spider," and she's looking through it, and she puts it under her arm, and she's walking down the aisle. and i'm like, this is the best. the pile's down, i just watched somebody physically buy my book. she gets about halfway down the aisle, she slides it into her pocketbook. she stole the book. [laughter] and all i'm thinking, does that count as a sale? [laughter] sometime the next year i went on kind of a drive-by signing which is where you just show up at a bookstore, and i showed up at this bookstore in new york, and they're like, oh, my god, mr. patterson, you're one of our favorites, and we're shaking hands. we must have about 500 of your books in the back for you to sign. we get to the back, and they
have these long tables filled with richard north patterson novels. yeah. so i signed 'em. [laughter] hollywood called at some point in there. i made the mistake of answering. they have these press junkets for every movie. son of chucky 5, press junkie. you write a book, and -- because of carmen, the press is here. you write a book, forget about it. no press. you do the dumbest movie in the world, and i swear to god, a room this big with press. so i go out there for, i guess it was "along came a spider, or" and paramount goes we better let jim see the movie because the press is going to ask him whether he likes it or not. so i'm watching this movie from a book that i wrote, and i watch the first scene, and i go, well, that wasn't in the book. and i watch the second book, morgan freeman, alex cross, is
and clint eastwood, and everybody in a restaurant is staring because among other things morgan and clint n. thompson were all over. this guy comes up for an autograph, my autograph, and clint eastwood said, i need a movi my autograph. and he looks out at the guy and says, i need a hit movie bad. -- [laughter] what happens here for the last five minutes, i told you stories and you left and you were engaged. and that's why once again stories are so important and giving these kids to read stories. you will read about scientist after scientist who said what turned want initially was science fiction. it woke them up. signs is kind of cool. i'm going to invent a stuff.
what carmen is saying is so true. kids, they don't nod off as much. they still not off but when someone is telling them a story, if you can get the books, short stories are great but, unfortunately, it's kind of, we don't pay as much attention to them. that's something new york are to look at in terms of getting back to books, short stories, and really cool ones. kids can read a 15, 20 page story and they can handle the. it's took a. but once again the common core to me is stories. now, my best story, in my opinion, are the stories i write for kids i don't exactly know why, and i write a lot of them, for young adults, maximum rider, flying kids, "middle school: the worst years of my life"
which some of your schools got that book. there's a bunch of middle school books. i'm probably a little bit crazy doing this as much as a, but i'm here and i'm writing and i love writing for the kids. one tiny request is, if you haven't read one of the books, just give it a peek yourself, as carmen has done. i love that really. before she would let the book go out into the system she read it herself, and that is so cool. that's a good chancellor. chancellor. and i also love which it gets appear as a human being, it's not a pr flack. i mean, nothing against pr flack, but she's up there as a human. and that's terrific. so consider reading some of them, or better yet get some of your kids reading them. and i don't need the money, but
the books that i read do get kids reading, and that's the important thing. because my books, in fact that's what i got into it initially. my editor said, the kind of stories you write are really going to get kids to keep turning the pages, and that's part of it. they are going to get kids thinking. that are going to get kids talking about books which i think is important. maximum ride and treasure hunters, two of my series, about kids taking responsibility for their own lives. maximum ride, these kids, they have wings, and they band together and have to take responsibly for one another because they're being chased. that's important that they have to take responsibility for one another. treasure hunters, same thing. kids have to take responsibly for the own lives because their parents disappear.
some of your in the situation to i think that tickle useful for some of the kids in new york are really have to kind of take responsibly for their lives at very early ages. the other thing about treasure hunters is by the end of that series i will have taken the kids to read those books around the world, which is kind of cool. we've gone through the caribbean. we're into africa for the second book. third book were going to china and europe, and that's cool that they can read a story and also learn about the world anti-into history. i have a book -- and tight into history. i have a book coming out, how to robot. that's about a kid, two kids, boy and girl, and their mother is this inventor and college teacher and she is all these crazy robots all over the house. she tries her kids crazy, but it's very funny and it's kind of a tender story. but it also gives kids and assigns it a cool way because
kids are kind of interest in robots and robotics and things like that. it's good stuff. i want to repeat myself just one time, just on this notion, and once again you guys know how to do this, but these parents when they come in, it's your job, parents, not the school's job to find books for your kids. you've got to take the time and go to the library, and more figure out your own system to a system can be if we're going to go to the movies as a family, before we go we'll go to the library for an hour. speaking of libraries, those of you who have these libraries into schools, this is like the best class trip of the year, class trip to the school library. what a crazy idea. we're all going to the school library and we're going to spend half an hour at the school
library, and it is going to the kind of books that are there and whatever the rules are and all that, and make it fun obviously. but that's a very inexpensive school trip but maybe the best school trip they will take all year. what else? this kind of eternal truth i'll call it, which is one of the best if not the best way to get kids reading is to give them books, or a sign the books or find books for them they will gobble up. and when they get done they say, i wouldn't mind reading another book. i have a kid who i visit, a long story but i visit in prison. he be there for the rest of his life. and in going to this present one of the things that's funny, and this prison is full of african-american kids are going to be there for a long, long time. they are all big readers. these are kids who would never
read anything, no choice. be a big readers, good readers, and actually one of the few entertainments they have, that they read. that's not how we want to discover reading the we don't want to find about how cool reading is in prison. freedom of choice is the key to getting kids motivated and excited about reading. and once again, i mean, whatever. you can all draw your own conclusions but what i've seen, vampires, comics, sports statistics, although it. especially middle school and elementary school, as long as they reading. because when they reading they are practicing. and this is good. those reading muscles are getting exercise. should be read on and the tablet? sure. it is the families can afford them, absolutely. rereading a book, definitely. try not to tell a kid of the
book is too hard. great expectation, sure, if you want to give it a shot. citizens way, maybe not. some schools are really on top of his reading, some not so much. the thing of it is is he's got to believe in miracles, we really do. in the last couple of years in houston, they turned around the 20 worst schools in the city, and these are schools they were going to shatter the next year. they did some great stuff and it totally turned these schools around the miracles can happen. as i said i grew up in newburgh, murder capital in new york state. my father grew up in a newburgh poorhouse. his mother was -- she got a room with my father, and she cleaned the toilets. that was revealed. maybe that's why i'm a newburgh,
coming from where i came from. i'm really trying to write books kids will devour and ask for another book to read. there are some kind of cool, this whole thing of sharing best practices is so key. incentive just won't do it. i don't know why. when i got thrust into the big job in advertising, i just wantt around to everyone of our offices at what you guys do the work? nobody -- i want to know. i don't care whether i invented it or someone else invented it. if it's a cool idea. there are some terrific models around the country. schools in washington, really cool. they require kids to read 20 books. i know it's a specialized thing that the kids have to literally read 20, and have to carry of the ground at all times. i know you can all do that, but sun prairie schools in wiscons wisconsin. they stop buying textbooks and use the money to buy children's
trade book's. reading in schools went up dramatically because the kids wanted to read the i know this library in texas and she has fourth and fifth graders. once again as carmen has said, you figure out what's going to work in your school. but in this school she started this club of fourth and fifth grade boys called the bubble is come and the boys would read books, discussing and we hate it but they read. boys, a few thoughts on them. i'm not sure and going to write a book about boys. i've been thinking about this the last couple of weeks, and they're obviously the biggest reluctant readers. one of the things that we have to bear in mind is that we've got to accept to some extent that boys are a little swirly. they squirm around. they stand up at their seats the lot, and that's with respect to reading and just school and
general. and somehow we have to figure out ways to praise them, hey, you read the exercise, good boy. know, whatever. we just have to figure out ways. because a lot of boys, they're getting beat up. they are getting beat up the they're getting to feel bad. they feel they're stupid. they feel they're behind and they get angry. because they know they're not stupid. eventually they will believe they are stupid. they get angry, give up and they can be a little irritating and they don't sit there like this because they are squarely. but somehow we have to figure out a way to get to these boys. they need to feel squishy inside about reading graphic novels and comics and joke books and general information stuff. there's a slight and it has categories -- site and it has categories like robots, how to build stuff, and outer space full of aliens.
and at least one explosion. at any rate let me just tell you one other story, if i can find it. oh, oh, just one other thing. i always forget to bring this up this whole co-authoring thing, he co-authors a lot of books, here's my notion on co-authoring. just to sort of get a perspective on it is useful. gilbert and sullivan, co-authors. rodgers and hammerstein, co-authors. simon and garfunkel, co-authors. linda mccartney, co-authors. woodward and bernstein, co-authors. so no big thing. but here's the store i just want to end with. quick story. and it's about doing stuff. i'm really big on doing stuff. we do a lot of stuff. to give away books in chicago and i think in the last three
years with little brown with to do it but they don't thousand books the troops and to schools. we are 400 scholarships at 24 universities for teachers which is probably more than general motors has. but we do stuff. this is the story about doing stuff that was reported in the "san francisco chronicle." and what happened was some female wells got trapped in fishing lines. literally because of the whale panic that wound up with hundreds of pounds of traps all around its torso, through her mouth, et cetera. they brought in a rescue team, and initially they give up hope, as we do sometimes to we just give up hope. nothing we can do. the whale must die. and then somebody says no, you know what? were going to go out and do something totally. what happened was volunteers went out for almost a whole day
with these little curved knives, okay, because that's how we fix stuff, little stuff, one person, we cut the rope. they eventually freed the whale, which was pretty amazing. and when the whale was freed, she didn't go out to see. she didn't do a takeoff like, you know, she swam around her rescuers in these kind of choice circles. i mean, i'm putting a little interpretation on it, but then she came back to every single one of these helpers and she nudged and pushed them, presumably at some kind of a thank you, whatever you want to call it, whatever whales think. and the rescuers said it was the most incredibly beautiful experience of their lives. many of the rescuers said they will never be the same after that experience. that's why i'm here.
and that's why you are here and that's why you're in the schools and that's what most of your teachers are there. because when we say the kid, sometimes we don't know, it's the greatest experience. you guys are saving whales every day, and i know there's a lot of frustration, as i said my mother did it for 45 years, but that's what you do. i love what you do. we're going to try to help in some way. we made people feel the libra, school library. that will be something we will look at for next year. what they want to do? do want to do q&a ?-que?-que x five minutes of questions and answers, okay? [applause] >> who hasn't -- i hope i wasn't being arrogant because i'm just throwing stuff out there i'm not suggesting i've any answers. it's just stimulation.
[inaudible] >> i hope so. interestingly -- sorry, yeah. i'm writing come in terms of writing for boys, am i thinking about writing for boys at a little reading level so that some of these boys, you know, will be able to keep up with the subject matter? the answer is yes. and actually in addition to the book i'm thinking about we have a book coming out next year called public school superhero. and what happened was england around to some of the schools in florida, which were primarily at the american and some hispanic, there's like no books about them
and they kept saying -- publishers to some but the print like 1000 copies. so the kids get really talk about it because there's like one copy of the book, or no copy, whatever. if i write one it's going to get bigger just a vision. so this is about an inner-city kid, and that was the hard part, to make -- as you know, a day at the heart of these schools is not always that much fun. and yes, it is written a little simpler but i wanted to write a book with a hero who is the american kid. that's an interesting thing in itself. i remember i was at a reading in washington after the second book came out, and the audience was about 70% african-american women.
so we chit chatted and i got comfortable with me after a little bit, and then i sat down to do autographs, the women came up and this one woman looked at you said, are you alex cross of christ the woman behind are went -- [laughter] there it is. anybody else? other questions? >> you mentioned earlier that you begin reading comic books and i could you're interested in reading. i was wondering what your thoughts on graphic novels and comic books in the classroom and independent libraries speak was once again to all the schools have to figure out their own thing at that school i guess. and to me if you've read it's just practice, special in elementary and at least in the beginning of middle school. you're just practicing. anything, you know, you've read 100 comic books you would be a better reader. so unfortunately there aren't a lot of comic books around.
book, yeah boy, students. it's shelving day. let's get in there and show the book. alphabetical order. abc. weight in the back. >> you talk a lot about building readers that love reading. you also want to build strong wind. can you talk a little bit about your writing process? >> the notion of building readers, building writers, you know, once again it's just practice. as i said, i love the idea of if you school auditoriums of getting the kids up there, getting them comfortable with getting up there a lot, even if it's just two sentences, or tell me, diversity. to me about what's different about how you, what it was like in your country before you came here, whatever. in terms of the writing come it's the same thing. it's practice.
you know, kids coming in every morning and just give me, or even just thinking, like the typical thing, how was your day? good. that was an essay question, dude. why did you say good bucks you had a reason. you have thoughts. why did you say good? what did you do at school? i don't know. okay, what could you do? well, you know, i could play soccer. keep going. i could rob a liquor store. no, no, no. no, i mean it's teaching kids to think beyond that one word response thing. of making a habit of the. it's all happened in my opinion. it's all habits. riding. what's the big deal with me? habits. i do it every single day, seven days a week. it's a habit. same thing here. you can't do like writing for a
week. you have to do riding everyday for like 10 minutes, five minutes, two sentences. one senses, every english class one seconds. write me one sentence. get it up to two sons is eventually. get it up to three sentences. it's just that habit. yes? >> question, you would mentioned about bringing to light new voices. african-american stores, letting the stories. are you at all working -- >> i didn't say any of that. you made that up but i'm okay with it. [laughter] >> are you at all working finding new talent and working within? >> i think that's a good question. know, happen. the question is am i trying to co-author with a new voices? i haven't really thought, i mean it's hard enough, i have to find people and really comfortable
with, because otherwise, a lot of people are good at sales and i haven't really had a failure, have i? maybe one or two. so it's important that a people because this isn't making the this is going to be like a 400 page book. i think it's a good spot. do you want to co-author? are you ready? we alternate words, you are too slow. [laughter] one more and then you guys can get serious about stuff. [inaudible] >> what about digital reading, is a growth area to speak with yes. amazon is taking over the world. they are growing. you know, one, kids like screens. so that's a positive thing. number two, a lot of kids can't afford screens so that's a problem. i don't know how we deal with it right now but eventually we will probably have away, everybody
come a time when the screen to be extremely inexpensive. for kids to read on screens, there were a few studies lately that they might not remember as much. so there may be some limitations on it. we are all brought up, most of us were brought up on a per books we have a bias built into. it doesn't limit. i think the world is going that way, so it will be a big factor. it will take a while. thank you very much. [applause] >> every weekend booktv offers a program focus on nonfiction authors and books. keep watching for more here on c-span2 and watc
called not that kind of girl. and hypothetical questions with scientific answers and what if. a look at this week's list of nonfiction bestsellers. >> greatness and the presidency is rare. greatness in any dimension of the human enterprises rare. i use the term grade maybe 15 times a day. but we don't really understand what it is. we have emptied the notion of greatness of any meaningful content and have transferred our appreciation from a political class to our entertainers, athletes, and actors. there we appreciate greatness, and there we can easily have relationships. we buy tickets.
these people never or rarely disappoint. it is in our political class ,, however, that we can't appreciate greatness because in many respects it is gone. driven by three factors that have to online, like the sun, the moon, and the and the stars in the right astrological formation. unique crisis. and not just a garden-variety crisis but of a nation encumbering character. character, character, the right individual with the right internal makeup and of the right orientation publicly and then you need capacity. does this person no what they are doing and can they deal with the cabinet, congress, the media? those three, crisis, character, and capacity, are what made our three most
greatest undeniably presidents great, washington, lincoln, and fdr a half dozen others, the living memorial to our 28 president, our only phd president, might be on the list. haley -- harry truman, truly consequential. i choose to identify jack kennedy, lyndon johnson, and ronald reagan as exhibiting traces of greatness, real or perceived. that is 11 presidents out of 43. we have had 43 different
presidents, 11 of whom, in my judgment, have been truly consequential. the.of.of the book is -- and it is provocative -- we don't want another great president. the the founders created a political system designed to desegregate power. they fear to the royal, the king, maybe the mob as well. they created a system of an executive, executive, but an accountable one. the only thing that liberates presidents and the political system is nation encumbering crisis. crisis. when i talk about nation encumbering crisis, i'm not even talking about the cuban missile crisis or nine/11,, i'm talking about a crisis that is relentless, inescapable, in which
everyone has to essentially participate. the three greatest presidents, washington, lincoln, and fdr had confronted the three greatest crises the nation faced and had the character and capacity to go along with it. i don't want to risk threatening the nation again with such a crisis in order to test the hypothesis that a great man or woman will emerge to deal with the crisis. stop crisis. stop expecting presidents to be a cross between harrison ford in air force one and superman so that you can allow them to be good. >> you can watch this and other programs online at booktv.org. >> you're watching book tv on c-span2 with top nonfiction books and authors every weekend. book tv, television for