Top of page

Introducing Walter Dean Myers – National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature

Share this post:

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

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 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?

Comments (9)

  1. I am proud to see Walther Dean Myers in this position. As a teacher at Ferris High School in Jersey City (Mr. Myers’ current hometown) I have taught many of his books and the students love them. However, if I may make one criticism it is this, why hasn’t he started this campaign in his own backyard? As far as educators and students in JC are concerned he has been content to remain invisible in the community, and believe me this is a community that needs as many strong voices as possible. I hope that Mr. Myers will make a point of carrying his message to all the H.S. students of Jersey City, they need to hear him. My students, more then most, need to understand that “reading is not optional.”
    Thank you,
    Deborah Southwood-Smith
    Teacher of English/ James J. Ferris High School

  2. I am pleased to learn that Walter Dean Myers has been appointed National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. We are happy to claim him as a West Virginia author (born in Martinsburg, WV) and our students enjoy reading his books, particularly, “Fallen Angels.” I used that book as my basis for research when I was chosen to attend a Summer Teacher Institute at the Library of Congress. I am also very pleased with his theme “Reading is not optional.” As a high school librarian, I would like to see students, teachers, administrators, and parents adopt those words as a theme, too.
    Thank you.
    Jill James
    Braxton County High School
    200 Jerry Burton Drive
    Sutton, WV 26624

  3. Hopefully this is not a paid position but an honorary one.
    In a day of the tax payer keeps paying and the government keeps expanding it is difficult to see a non essential position being created.
    Richard Friedman, Publisher

    • Thank you for your comment Mr. Friedman. On the page about the National Ambassador for Young Adult Literature it is noted that this is a joint program sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and the Children’s Book Council (CBC) and its foundation, Every Child a Reader. In the press release announcing Mr. Myers appointment it is noted that “Financial support for the National Ambassador program is provided by Penguin Young Readers Group, Scholastic Inc., HarperCollins Children’s Books, Random House Children’s Books, Candlewick Press and the Lois Lenski-Covey Foundation.”

  4. Greetings to Mr.Walter Dean Myers.

  5. I love Mr. Myers. One of the best learning experiences I had was when a did an author study on Walter Dean Myers with 5th grade boys. These boys loved “BAD BOY”. The author study increased their love of books. They shared so much information with each other. They were able to make text-to-text, text to self, and text-to-world connections using the many books by Mr. Myers. His books are wonderful for boys and readers to love a good story.

    I am a teacher in Washington D.C. and I hope he will come to my school one day.

  6. This is an excellent appointment–Mr Myers’ has a proven ability to connect with young people through his writing.

    Will there be a public announcement regarding his travel schedule? I’m sure I’m not the only one who would love to have the opportunity to host an appearance by Mr. Myers at our school or our public library.

    John Riley
    Fayetteville, Ark.

    • I believe his schedule will be posted here . We’ll check with our Center for the Book for additional details on his schedule.


Add a Comment

This blog is governed by the general rules of respectful civil discourse. You are fully responsible for everything that you post. The content of all comments is released into the public domain unless clearly stated otherwise. The Library of Congress does not control the content posted. Nevertheless, the Library of Congress may monitor any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove content for any reason whatever, without consent. Gratuitous links to sites are viewed as spam and may result in removed comments. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on the Library site. Read our Comment and Posting Policy.

Required fields are indicated with an * asterisk.