In 2007, Dr. James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress, announced the creation of a new position, National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. Dr. Billington stated that the ambassador will be an award-winning author or illustrator whose position will acknowledge—at the national level—the importance of exceptional authors and illustrators in creating the readers of tomorrow. The Librarian appoints each Ambassador for a two-year term to travel around the country promoting the importance of fiction and nonfiction in the lives of young people.
Walter Dean Myers, the new National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature has written over 100 books including “Sunrise Over Fallujah,” “Fallen Angels,” “Monster,” “Somewhere in the Darkness” and “Harlem.” Myers has received two Newbery Honor Awards and five Coretta Scott King Awards. He is the winner of the first Michael L. Printz Award (for excellence in young adult literature, given by the American Library Association) as well as the first recipient of Kent State University’s Virginia Hamilton Literary Award for Lifetime Achievement. In 2009 Myers delivered the May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture, a distinction reserved for an individual who has made significant contributions to the field of children’s literature. The ceremony honoring Mr. Myers will be held at 11am on Tuesday, January 10th in room LJ 119 in the Library’s Jefferson Building.
The theme for his term is “Reading is Not Optional.”
The first National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature was Jon Scieszka. The author of several bestselling children’s titles, including “The Stinky Cheese Man,” which won a Caldecott Honor medal, “The True Story of the Three Little Pigs” and the “Time Warp Trio,” Scieszka focused on getting parents and children to read together during his term. He also helped launch “The Exquisite Corpse Adventure,” a chapter book featuring the work of a number of noted writers and illustrators at the 2009 National Book Festival.
Appointed in 2010, Katherine Patterson served as the second National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. A two-time winner of the Newbery Medal (“Bridge to Terabithia” and “Jacob Have I Loved”) and the National Book Award (“The Great Gilly Hopkins” and “The Master Puppeteer) she worked to encouraged reading as a way to enrich one’s life and to better understand one’s family, community and the world around them.
Learn more about Walter Dean Myers and see some of his webcasts from the National Book Festival on the read.gov website. The press release announcing Myers appointment is available on the Library’s website.
Do you agree with Walter Dean Myers…Is reading NOT optional?