Welcome Jason Reynolds, 2020-2021 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature!

The following guest post is by Sasha Dowdy, program specialist in the Library’s Young Readers Center.

Jason Reynolds, 2020-2021 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. Photo: James J. Reddington.

You may have seen this exciting news from the Library: Young adult and middle grade author Jason Reynolds has been announced as the new National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature for 2020-2021! Watch CBS coverage of the announcement here, and read The Washington Post’s KidsPost article here.

Tomorrow, January 16, the Library will host an inaugural event for the new ambassador. Tune in at 10:30 AM EST live on the Library’s YouTube site (with captions) or Facebook page.

Jason Reynolds is the author of 13 books for young people including his most recent, Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks, a National Book Award finalist, which was named a Best Book of 2019 by NPR, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and TIME.  A native of Washington, D.C., Reynolds began writing poetry at 9 years old, and is the recipient of a Newbery Honor, a Printz Honor, an NAACP Image Award, and multiple Coretta Scott King Award honors.

For his two-year term as National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Reynolds will visit small towns across America to have meaningful discussions with young people. Through his platform, “GRAB THE MIC: Tell Your Story,” Reynolds, who regularly talks about his journey from reluctant reader to award-winning author, will redirect his focus as ambassador by listening and empowering students to embrace and share their own personal stories.

The National Ambassador program was established by the Library of Congress, the Children’s Book Council and its foundation, Every Child a Reader, in 2008 to emphasize the importance of young people’s literature as it relates to lifelong literacy, education and the development and betterment of the lives of young people.

We hope you’ll join us tomorrow for Jason Reynolds’ inauguration, either virtually or in person. You can learn even more about our new ambassador on his Library of Congress resource guide.

Discovering Local and Public Poetry

As Rebecca Newland, former Teacher in Residence at the Library of Congress, walks around her Washington, D.C., neighborhood, she often encounters vendors selling a local newspaper whose proceeds benefit the homeless of the DC Metro area. Many of the vendors are also writers who mention the page on which their article or poem appears in the issue. This got her thinking about the prevalence of local poetry and ways for us to discover it with our students.

Rita Dove and “On the Bus with Rosa Parks”

Because of her enduring impact and legacy, one doesn’t need to look far to find Rosa Parks memorialized in poetry. In 1999, Rita Dove—U.S. Poet Laureate from 1993-1995—published her poetry collection ”On the Bus with Rosa Parks.” In celebration of the Library’s new exhibition, “Rosa Parks: In Her Own Words,” we’re reprinting two poems from Dove’s “On the Bus with Rosa Parks” in this post.