April 27, 2015 (REVISED April 28, 2015) National Ambassadors for Young People's Literature to Gather in Conversation
Jon Scieszka, Katherine Paterson, Kate DiCamillo to be joined by son of late Walter Dean Myers
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Public Contact: Center for the Book (202) 707-5221
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The three living National Ambassadors for Young People's Literature—Jon Scieszka, Katherine Paterson and Kate DiCamillo—plus the son of late Ambassador Walter Dean Myers will hold “A Conversation with the Ambassadors” on Wednesday, May 6, 10:30 a.m. to noon in the Coolidge Auditorium of the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E. in Washington, D.C. The event, hosted by the Young Readers Center of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and the Children’s Book Council (CBC), is free and open to the public; no tickets are required.
The National Ambassador position was established jointly in 2008 by the Library of Congress, the Children’s Book Council and the CBC’s foundation, Every Child a Reader, to raise national awareness of the importance of young people’s literature in relation to lifelong literacy, education and the development and betterment of young people’s lives.
John Y. Cole, director of the Center for the Book, will moderate the discussion focusing on how the honor has affected the ambassadors’ lives and careers. Christopher Myers, an award-winning children’s book illustrator and writer, will pay tribute to his late father, Walter Dean Myers, and his legacy as the third ambassador.
The Jonah Solkoff Eskin Memorial Fund supports this event, in recognition of Children’s Book Week, May 4-10. The fund was established to honor the late son of Marcia and Barnet Eskin.
Children’s Book Week, established in 1919, is the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country and is administered by Every Child a Reader, in association with the Children’s Book Council.
Jon Scieszka (ambassador 2008-2009) produced his first picture book in 1989, “The True Story of the Three Little Pigs,” which has sold more than 3 million copies and has been translated into 14 languages. His series include “The Time Warp Trio,” “Trucktown,” “Spaceheadz” and a science series, “Frank Einstein.” His memoir novel, “Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Mostly True Stories of Growing Up Scieszka,” was published in 2008. He is the founder of “Guys Read” a web-based literacy program whose mission is to help boys become self-motivated, lifelong readers.
Katherine Paterson (ambassador 2010-2011) is a two-time winner of the National Book Award and the Newbery Medal. Paterson’s accolades also include the Hans Christian Andersen Medal, the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award 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. Her memoir, “Stories of My Life,” was published in 2014 and a film based on her National Book Award novel “The Great Gilly Hopkins” was recently made into a film starring Glenn Close, Kathy Bates and Octavia Spencer.
Kate DiCamillo (ambassador 2014-2015) has won two Newbery Awards, in 2001 for “Because of Winn-Dixie” and in 2014 for “Flora & Ulysses.” She was a finalist for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature in 2001 for “The Tiger Rising” and won the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award in 2006 for Fiction for “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.” Her platform for her ambassadorship, “Stories Connect Us,” stresses the value of character and story line. Two of her books have become films: “Because of Winn-Dixie” was released in 2005 and the animated movie “The Tale of Despereaux” came out in 2008. She is planning a novel for readers 10 years and older in spring of 2016.
The late Walter Dean Myers (1937-2014; ambassador 2012-2013) published more than 100 books, including the New York Times best-seller “Monster,” the first winner of the Michael L. Printz Award, a National Book Award finalist and a Coretta Scott King Honor Book. He was 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.
Christopher Myers is an author and illustrator who won a Caldecott Honor for his illustrations in “Harlem: A Poem” by his father, Walter Dean Myers, and a Coretta Scott King Honor for “H.O.R.S.E., Jazz and Black Cat,” which he also wrote. In 2015 he won the Coretta Scott King award for illustration for “Firebird” by ballet dancer Misty Copeland. He began his career doing research to help his father and then went on to illustrate many of Walter Dean Myers’ books, starting with “Shadow of the Red Moon.”
The National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature is named by the Librarian of Congress for a two-year term. 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 and the CBC Foundation (Every Child a Reader), are the administrators of the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature initiative. The next ambassador will be announced in January 2016.
Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs, publications and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at www.loc.gov.
The Library’s Center for the Book, established by Congress in 1977 to "stimulate public interest in books and reading," is a national force for reading and literacy promotion. A public-private partnership, it sponsors educational programs that reach readers of all ages through its affiliated state centers, collaborations with nonprofit reading promotion partners and through the Young Readers Center and the Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress. For more information, visit read.gov.