January 3, 2008 Librarian of Congress Appoints Author Jon Scieszka Inaugural National Ambassador for Young People's Literature
Program To Be Run By Library’s Center for the Book, Children’s Book Council, CBC Foundation
Press Contact: Audrey Fischer (202) 707-0022 | Virginia Anagnos (212) 576-2700, ext. 222
Librarian of Congress James H. Billington has appointed children’s book author Jon Scieszka as the first National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. 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 Library of Congress has long provided free, primary-source educational material for K-12 on the Internet,” said Billington. “The position of National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature is a natural extension of that role. Jon Scieszka will be an articulate emissary, promoting reading and literature among young people, which are important for the health and creativity of our democratic society.”
“Jon Scieszka’s platform will spotlight the diversity and breadth of children’s literature available today and in so doing present a solution to what can be done to change the state of reading in this country,” said Robin Adelson, executive director at Children’s Book Council.
Born in Flint, Mich., Jon Scieszka earned a bachelor’s degree in writing from Albion College and a master of fine arts degree from Columbia University. He held a number of teaching positions in the first through eighth grades before taking a year off to develop ideas for children’s books. He is the author of several bestselling children’s titles, including “The Stinky Cheese Man,” which won a Caldecott Honor medal, “The True Story of the Three Little Pigs” and the Time Warp Trio, a chapter book series. Scieszka is the founder of Guys Read (www.guysread.com), a nonprofit literacy organization.
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 Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, the Children’s Book Council (CBC) and the CBC Foundation are the administrators of the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature initiative. Scieszka will receive a $50,000 stipend for the two-year period. Financial support for the National Ambassador program is provided by Cheerios (leading sponsor), Penguin Young Readers Group, Scholastic Inc., HarperCollins Children’s Books, Random House Children’s Books, Houghton Mifflin Company, Macmillan Publishers, Harcourt Children’s Books, Holiday House, Charlesbridge, National Geographic Children’s Books, Candlewick Press, and Marshall Cavendish Publishers.
The appointment was announced today at the Mulberry Branch of the New York Public Library by Center for the Book Director John Y. Cole.
“Cheerios is truly delighted to help launch the post of National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature,” said Ricardo Fernandez, marketing manager for Cheerios. “Providing children with access to books and fostering their ability to grow up to be readers is important to all of us.”
Through its Spoonfuls of Stories program, Cheerios puts books into the hands of children and encourages families to read together. Over the past six years, Cheerios Spoonfuls of Stories has distributed more than 30 million books—free of charge—inside cereal boxes and donated more than $2.5 million to First Book, a national children’s literacy organization.
The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress was established in 1977 by Public Law 95-129 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 and the District of Columbia, 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. For more information about the center, go to www.loc.gov/cfbook/.
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. The CBC Foundation’s “Every Child a Reader” program seeks to harness the collective power of the children’s book publishing industry to create a positive social impact in the nation’s communities. For more information about the CBC and the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, go to www.cbcbooks.org.