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BPL provides "Gateway to Reading" in Lowell Lecture Series

Boston Public Library’s 2014 “Gateway to Reading” Lowell Lecture Series begins February 6 and runs through May. The library welcomes esteemed writers of children’s literature from toddler to teen genres. Bestselling authors and award winners are joined by noted experts and scholars in the field who explore major issues, questions, and scholarship around the creation of books for children and the importance of childhood literacy.

The series features recipients of the highest honors in the children’s literature field for their groundbreaking and timeless works: Marc Brown, the creator, author, and illustrator of the Arthur series; Norton Juster of the classic The Phantom Tollbooth and The Dot & the Line; Diary of a Wimpy Kid series author and illustrator Jeff Kinney; and Jack Gantos, creator of the Rotten Ralph picture book series and Joey Pigza novels. 

The complete schedule is available online at Speakers appearing in the 2013-2014 Lowell Lecture Series include:

Nínive Calegari is the co-founder with Dave Eggers of 826 National, which she helped grow from a local tutoring program into an influential education phenomenon that partners with schools, families, and community organizations across the country. A former teacher, Calegari is the president of the Teacher Salary Project; the co-author of Teachers Have It Easy; and the co-producer of American Teacher, a documentary by Oscar-winning director Vanessa Roth, with narration by Matt Damon.

Marc Brown is the creator, author, and illustrator of the beloved Arthur series, featuring his iconic “little aardvark with a big agenda.” More than 66 million Arthur books are now in print in the United States and the PBS television show Arthur is the network’s most-watched children’s program and the winner of six Emmy Awards. It is enjoyed by children and families in more than 100 countries around the world. Brown and his wife Laurie Krasney Brown are also the creators of the critically-acclaimed nonfiction Dino Life Guides for Families series.

Norton Juster is perhaps best known for his children’s classic, The Phantom Tollbooth. The year 2011 marked the 50th anniversary of The Phantom Tollbooth, which has sold close to four million copies since its publication. In addition to The Phantom Tollbooth, he has also penned a number of other highly acclaimed children’s books, including The Dot & the Line, which was made into an Academy Award-winning animated film, and the recent The Hello, Goodbye Window, illustrated by Chris Raschka, which was awarded a Caldecott Medal.

Jeff Kinney is the bestselling author and illustrator of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, which has more than 100 million copies in print in 44 languages around the world. Diary of a Wimpy Kid won Favorite Book at the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards three times, and Kinney was twice voted Author of the Year at the Children's Choice Book Awards. Kinney was named one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World and is the creator of, a virtual world for kids.

Maria Tatar is the John L. Loeb Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures at Harvard University, where she chairs the Program in Folklore and Mythology. The author of Classic Fairy TalesThe Annotated Brothers GrimmThe Annotated Peter Pan, and Enchanted Hunters: The Power of Stories in Childhood, she is a frequent contributor to the New Yorker and the New York Times. She is currently at work on a volume of African American folktales.

The Different Paths to Reading discussion features moderator Cathryn Mercier, Director of the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature at Simmons College and the Director of the Children’s Literature graduate degree programs; Alexandra Kennedy, the Executive Director of The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art; Sonia Nieto, Professor Emerita of Language, Literacy, and Culture for the College of Education at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and award-winner Grace Lin, author and illustrator of picture books, early readers, and middle grade novels.

Jack Gantos is the author of more than 40 books for children, including the Rotten Ralph picture books and collections of Jack Henry short stories; upper elementary and middle school Joey Pigza novels; young adult novels Love Curse of the Rumbaughs and Desire Lines; and a memoir, Hole in My Life. His works received a Newbery Award, Scott O’Dell Award, Newbery Honor, Printz Honor, Sibert Honor, National Book Award Finalist Honor, and he is the 2010 recipient of the NCTE/ALAN Award for his contribution to the field of Young Adult and Children’s Literature. Dead End in Norvelt received both the 2012 Newbery Award and the Scott O’Dell Award for Historic Fiction. The companion novel From Norvelt to Nowhere is his most recent release.

All Lowell Lectures take place in Rabb Lecture Hall at the Central Library in Copley Square and are held on weeknights and weekends to accommodate people of all ages. Book sales and signings follow the lectures and children are encouraged to participate and craft questions for their favorite authors.

Video highlights from prior year’s lectures are available online at Past Lowell Lecture Series themes include “Common Ground,” “Remembering the Civil War,” and “Boston’s Best.” The Lowell Lecture Series is generously sponsored by the Lowell Institute, established in 1836 with the specific mission of making great ideas accessible to all people, free of charge.

Boston Public Library has a Central Library, twenty-four branches, map center, business library, and a website filled with digital content and services. Established in 1848, the Boston Public Library has pioneered public library service in America. It was the first publicly supported municipal library in America, the first public library to lend books, the first to have a branch library, and the first to have a children’s room. Each year, the Boston Public Library hosts thousands of programs and serves millions of people. All of its programs and exhibitions are free and open to the public. At the Boston Public Library, books are just the beginning. To learn more, visit

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