In high school, science fiction became a real page turner for Bill Swan.
He snapped up pulp books, reading the work of Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov, among others.
Science fiction, he recalls, was “frowned upon, scoffed at’’ when he was becoming immersed in this particular literary genre. He even belonged to the Science Fiction Book Club.
Today the popular children’s author, who recalls with great fondness the daily story time during his elementary school days while growing up in Ontario in Oxford County, says what children are reading is not as important as the fact that children are reading.
“My contention is that reading is reading,’’ says Swan, the author of 12 middle grade and young adult books.
“The one key thing for children’s education is reading. Everything else pales by comparison.’’
“The more you read,’’ adds Swan, “the better you get at it.’’
Swan, who won the 2013 Ontario Library Association Red Maple Non-fiction award for his book about Steven Truscott called Fourteen and Sentenced to Death, is coming to Prince Edward Island to help instill in children a passion for reading.
He is among 29 Canadian children’s authors, illustrators and storytellers visiting schools, libraries, community centres and bookstores across the country as part of the major literary festival TD Canadian Children’s Book Week.
More than 28,000 children, teens and adults are expected to participate in the national touring program, which is running from May 2 to May 9.
Swan, a former newspaper editor and college journalism professor, says he would consider his own tour a success if he gets one child to open a book.
He urges parents to read to their children as much as possible and to encourage reading of all kinds.
“Give them books from an early age - a very early age,’’ he says.
In addition to public readings at libraries in Kinkora, Borden-Carleton and Kensington, Swan will present to more than 300 students across P.E.I.