National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Named

Walter Dean Myers, five-time winner of the Coretta Scott King Award and of two Newbery Honors, has been appointed National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature by Librarian of Congress James H. Billington.

After taking over from Katherine Paterson, Myers will hold the position from 2012 to 2013. Myers has chosen “Reading Is Not Optional” as the heading for the platform, which was created to raise national awareness of the importance of young people’s literature.

“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.”

Myers was chosen based on recommendations from a selection committee that discussed the candidate’s contribution to young people’s literature and ability to relate to children.

The National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature initiative was founded by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, the Children’s Book Council (CBC), and Every Child a Reader, the CBC foundation, and is sponsored 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.”

Myers has published more than 100 books. His works include Monster – which was a New York Times bestseller and the first winner of the Michael L. Printz Award, a National Book Award Finalist and a Coretta Scott King Honor Book.

Recognized as one of the most significant contributors to the field of children’s literature, he became the recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults and in 2009.

The inauguration ceremony will take place on January 10 in Washington, D.C.