Author James Patterson eyes movies, kids reading

Wed Jun 29, 2011 4:59pm EDT
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By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Prolific novelist James Patterson has raised the stakes on what it means to be a modern-day publisher, again, and this time he is doing it for one of his passions -- getting kids to read.

The bestselling author, who most often is equated with being at the forefront of mass market fiction's dominance of the publishing industry, has this week for the first time released two books on the same day in the United States -- one aimed at adults and the second for kids.

The idea, he said, is that parents will enter a book store -- physical or online -- to buy his new suspense novel, "Now You See Her," and might also pick up his newest fiction for young readers, "Middle School, The Worst Years of My Life."

Some fans will likely praise Patterson for upping his push to get American kids reading more. But there is little doubt that skeptics may think it a clever plot to boost book sales.

Patterson, who began his career as an advertising guru before becoming a novelist, is a certifiable entertainment mogul. He is responsible for a record 45 New York Times hardcover No. 1s with 230 million copies sold worldwide.

Yet, he says this week's dual-book publishing ploy is not about sales but about exposing kids to novels. And he claims his 17 young reader books show he is serious about kids, young adult books and reading.

"I am obsessed with it," said the 64-year-old who launched his website in 2008 to help parents pick kids' books. "It's a huge, huge problem in this country and probably all other countries. But we have millions of kids in this country who have never read a book in their life."

Indeed, one in six U.S. children do not read proficiently by the time they reach the end of third grade, according to the nonprofit group Children's Literacy Initiative.   Continued...