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Biographies Katherine Paterson

2010-2011 National Ambassador for Young People's Literature

Katherine Paterson, 2010-11 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. Photo credit: Shawn Miller, Library of Congress.

Katherine Paterson, 2010-2011 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, was the second writer to hold this position. During her two-year term, Paterson traveled across America to promote her platform, “Read for Your Life.” Alongside her travels, Paterson’s appointment also included a monthly essay series published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, detailing Paterson’s views on “writing and literature for young people, the wonder and imagination found within great books, common questions novice writers ask, and [her] own personal experiences throughout her historic career.”

Katherine Paterson is the two-time winner of the National Book Award and the Newbery Medal whose international fame rests not only on her widely acclaimed novels but also on her efforts to promote literacy in the United States and abroad. A two-time winner of the Newbery Medal for her novels Bridge to Terabithia and Jacob Have I Loved, and the National Book Award for The Great Gilly Hopkins and The Master Puppeteer, she has received many additional accolades for her body of work, including the 2019 E.B. White Award granted by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the 2006 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, the 1998 Hans Christian Andersen Medal, and the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, given by her home state of Vermont. She was also named a Living Legend by the Library of Congress in 2000.

Ms. Paterson is vice president of the National Children’s Book and Literary Alliance, a nonprofit organization that informs, promotes, educates, and inspires the American public to pursue literacy for young people and support libraries. She is both an Alida Cutts Lifetime Member of the United States Board on Books for Young People and a Lifetime Member of the International Board on Books for Young People.

Ms. Paterson’s most recent novel is My Brigadista Year, a historical novel following a teenager living in Fidel Castro’s Cuba who volunteers to travel to the impoverished countryside as part of a national literacy campaign to teach others how to read. The novel was the 2018 selection for Vermont Reads, a statewide reading program. In June 2020, Ms. Paterson released a new online story on the National Children’s Book and Literary Alliance website, “William and the Mysterious Brame,” along with an activity kit and additional resources as gifts for children sheltering at home during the global COVID-19 pandemic.

She lives in Barre, Vermont, and has four children and seven grandchildren. 

Paterson was preceded as National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature by Jon Scieszka (2008–9).


Selected Works at the Library of Congress

Videos from the Library of Congress