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Program Poetry & Literature

History of the Position

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The position of National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature was established in 2008 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 selection, made by the Librarian of Congress, is based on recommendations from field experts and an independent committee, both comprising of educators, librarians, booksellers and children’s literature specialists.

The National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature is an initiative of the Library of Congress, in partnership with Every Child a Reader External link, with generous support from The Library of Congress James Madison Council, The Capital Group Companies Charitable Foundation and Dollar General Literacy Foundation External link.

To learn more about former ambassadors and their platforms, please visit the emeritus section.

Selection Criteria

  • Author or illustrator of fiction or nonfiction books
  • U.S. citizen, living in the United States
  • Excellent and facile communicator
  • Dynamic and engaging personality
  • Known ability to relate to children; communicates well and regularly with them
  • Someone who has made a substantial contribution to young people’s literature
  • Stature; someone who is revered by children and who has earned the respect and admiration of his or her peers
  • Dedication to fostering children’s literacy as a whole, beyond their own body of work

2023-2024 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Selection Committee

  • Cathy Berner, children’s and young adult specialist and events coordinator, Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston, Texas
  • Klem-Marí Cajigas, family literacy coordinator, Bringing Books to Life!, at Nashville Public Library
  • Dr. Nicole A. Cooke, Augusta Baker Endowed Chair for Childhood Literacy and an associate professor, University of South Carolina
  • Saraciea J. Fennell, founder and CEO of The Bronx Is Reading and executive director of the Bronx Book Festival
  • Kathy Ishizuka, editor in chief and partnerships and innovation director, School Library Journal
  • Brein Lopez, general manager, Children’s Book World in Los Angeles, California
  • Jason Reynolds, 2020-2022 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, bestselling and award-winning author
  • Diane Roback, senior vice president and children’s book editor, Publishers Weekly
  • Deborah Taylor, youth literature specialist, retired coordinator of school and student services, Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, MD

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