Press Release: Walter Dean Myers Named New [US] National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature
Walter Dean Myers, five-time winner of the Coretta Scott King Award and two Newbery Honors, was named National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature by Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. Myers will serve in the position during 2012 and 2013, succeeding Katherine Paterson. Myers has chosen “Reading Is Not Optional” as the heading for his platform. The inauguration ceremony will take place on January 10 at 11:00 a.m. in Room LJ 119 of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C.
“Walter Dean Myers is one of America’s preeminent authors of books for young people,” said Dr. Billington. “He is a lifelong advocate for reading for young people, and he has practiced what he preaches in schools and detention centers across the country.”
The National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature is named by the Librarian of Congress for a two-year term, based on recommendations from a selection committee representing many segments of the book community. The selection criteria include the candidate’s contribution to young people’s literature and ability to relate to children. The position was created to raise national awareness of 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.
The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, the Children’s Book Council (CBC), Every Child a Reader, and the CBC Foundation are the founders and sponsors of the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature initiative. 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.
“Walter Dean Myers is well-known to attendees of our National Book Festival,” said Center for the Book Director John Y. Cole. “He was a popular presenter in 2001, during our first festival, and also in 2003 and 2005. We look forward to his appearance at this year’s festival in September.”
“Walter Dean Myers is a wonderful storyteller and authentic voice,” said Robin Adelson, executive director of the Children’s Book Council and Every Child a Reader. “His pioneering novels are hard-hitting and, at the same time, deliver a powerful sense of hope and dignity, and we believe he will do the same as the next ambassador.”
Walter Dean Myers boasts more than 100 published books, including the New York Times bestseller Monster, the first winner of the Michael L. Printz Award, a National Book Award Finalist, and a Coretta Scott King Honor Book. He is the recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults and in 2009 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. He is among today’s most-honored authors. Myers grew up in Harlem, which is the setting for many of his books, and currently resides in Jersey City, N.J.