PITTSBURGH (KDKA)- Kate DiCamillo, award-winning author, read from her “Mercy Watson” books to the third graders at Jefferson Elementary School in Mount Lebanon Wednesday morning, and thousands of kids watched by webcast from around the world.

Kids are captivated by the stories she writes and the stories she tells about how she wrote them. DiCamillo’s books have won the top awards for children’s literature, such as “Flora and Ulysses,”  “Bink and Gollie” and “The Tiger Rising.” “Because of Winn Dixie” and “The Tale of Despereaux” were even made into movies.

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“When you write for kids, everybody always says, ‘What lesson did you want to impart to the kids?’ And the ‘Mercy Watson’ series are the answer to that; nothing,” said DiCamillo.

She says it doesn’t matter what your kids read, but to let them pick what they want and figure out what they like. According to DiCamillo, many parents say that because of her books, their kids introduce them to her stories and now the parents read her books for themselves.

Given that technology has a strong pull on children; DiCamillo offers the best advice when trying to get their kids to read.

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“Read together. Sit down and read together. It might start out as something that you feel like you should do. Ultimately, it gives to the parent. It connects you to your child in a totally different way than it does with anything else.

Reading improves writing skills and even math scores, but DiCamillo says it also shows kids everything is possible and even helps them develop empathy.

“It literally fires things in your brain that helps you understand other people, connect to other people, and when you do it together and with no devices on, just reading a book together, it connects you,” she says.

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Kristine Sorensen