The Library of Congress has announced the newly created post of National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. The announcement was made at the Book Expo in New York on June 1. Appointed for a two-year term by the Librarian of Congress, the ambassador will speak to the importance of fiction and nonfiction in the lives of young people. Selected for extraordinary contributions to the world of books for children and teens, he or she will make personal and media appearances to encourage the appreciation of young people's literature throughout the United States.
"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," said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington.
The appointment of the first National Ambassador for Young People's Literature will be announced in January 2008. Patterned after the Children's Laureate program in the United Kingdom, the program will be administered jointly by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and the Children's Book Council (CBC). They will name the selection committee, oversee the selection process and organize the ambassador's travel schedule.
"We are thrilled," said Simon Broughton, chair of the CBC board of directors and executive vice president of Roaring Brook Press. "The National Ambassador for Young People's Literature will honor and promote the essential role that young people's literature plays in every aspect of our society."
The ambassador will travel and speak extensively during the two-year term, participating in book and reading promotion events throughout the United States. Her or she will pick a theme that emphasizes literacy, education and related issues concerning books and young people. Each term will bring new events in different areas of the country, and the ambassador will speak in Washington, D.C., each fall at the National Book Festival and in New York City each spring during Children's Book Week. In addition to these regular speaking engagements, the ambassador will work with media outlets to promote his or her theme to a wider audience.
Financial support for the National Ambassador program is provided by Cheerios cereal, which has been encouraging family reading through its Spoonfuls of Stories program. Over the past five years, Cheerios Spoonfuls of Stories has distributed more than 25 million free books inside boxes of Cheerios and has donated more than $2 million to First Book, an international children's literacy organization. Both First Book and the CBC are national reading promotion partners of the Center for the Book.
Additional financial support for the National Ambassador program is being provided by HarperCollins Children's Books, Penguin Young Readers Group, Random House Children's Books, Holiday House, Inc., National Geographic Children's Books, Houghton Mifflin Company, Harcourt Children's Books and Candlewick Press. The CBC, through its associated 501(c) (3) entity, the CBC Foundation, is seeking additional financial support for the program from the private sector. For information, contact CBC and CBC Foundation Executive Director Robin Adelson at (212) 966-1990 or Robin.Adelson@cbcbooks.org.