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January 3, 2012

Walter Dean Myers Named New National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature

Prolific Author Chooses “Reading Is Not Optional” as Banner for Platform

Walter Dean Myers, five-time winner of the Coretta Scott King Award and two Newbery Honors, today 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 Jan. 10 at 11 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 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 his or her 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) and Every Child a Reader, the CBC foundation, are the founders and sponsors of the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature initiative (www.read.gov/cfb/). 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 the Library’s 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 boasts more than 100 published books, including the New York Times best-seller "Monster," which was also 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. Myers grew up in Harlem, which is the setting for many of his books, and currently resides in Jersey City, N.J.

The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress was established in 1977 to use the resources of the Library of Congress to stimulate public interest in books and reading. With public and private-sector support, the center carries out its mission through a national network of affiliates in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and in cooperation with more than 80 national reading-promotion partners such as the Children’s Book Council. The center plays a key role in the Library of Congress’s National Book Festival, held each year on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. It also oversees the Library’s Young Readers Center. For more information about the center, visit www.Read.gov/cfb/.

The Children’s Book Council, established in 1945, is the nonprofit trade association of publishers of trade books for children and young adults in the United States. The CBC promotes the use and enjoyment of trade books for young people, most prominently as the official sponsor of Children’s Book Week, the longest-running literacy event in the country. The goal of the Children’s Book Council is to make the reading and enjoyment of books for young people an essential part of America’s educational and social goals, as well as to enhance the public perception of the importance of reading by disseminating information about books for young people and about children’s-book publishing. For more information about the CBC, visit www.cbcbooks.org (external link).

Every Child a Reader is a 501(c)(3) literacy foundation, the mission of which is to instill a lifelong love of reading in children. Every Child a Reader fulfills its mission by supporting positive programs and opportunities, such as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and Children’s Book Week, that help promote the enjoyment and importance of reading among America’s youth. For more information about Every Child a Reader, visit www.ecarfoundation.org (external link).

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PR 12-001
01/03/12
ISSN 0731-3527

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