DiCamillo, well-known for her book turned motion picture Because of Winn-Dixie, has been named National Ambassador for Young People's Literature by the Library of Congress. We caught up with her Jan. 16 by phone from her home in Minneapolis, just a few days after the induction ceremony in Washington, D.C. "I was very nervous and intimidated by the whole thing," said DiCamillo, 49. "But the building, the Library of Congress, is gorgeous, and there were 40 kids who attended the ceremony. I just kept looking at them to stay grounded.'' As ambassador, DiCamillo, a University of Florida graduate, has a simple message: "There's a huge amount of joy to be had in reading. I was a kid who was a big reader. It's how I made sense out of the world.''
What's on your nightstand?
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson.
Have you read Atkinson before?
I have loved Kate Atkinson since her novel Behind the Scenes at the Museum. She has taken this remarkable journey. She kind of wandered off and did mysteries that were incredible, and now, there's this. It is gorgeous and thought-provoking and heartbreaking. I'm also reading Best American Essays 2013, The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker, a compilation of M.F.K. Fisher called The Measure of Her Powers that is spectacular, and a book of children's poetry, What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms and Blessings by Joyce Sidman. I came to poetry late, but it is such a great way to immerse yourself in language. I think a lot of people are afraid of poetry, and I think it's a matter of how you are introduced to poetry that is most important.