Walter Dean Myers named new National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature

As of today, author Walter Dean Myers is officially the new National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. Established in 2008, “The National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature raises 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.”

Last week, several newspapers published interviews with Myers, whose slogan for this two-year appointment is “Reading Is Not Optional.” Here are a few excerpts from the New York Times article by Julie Bosman:

“As an African-American man who dropped out of high school but built a successful writing career — largely because of his lifelong devotion to books — Mr. Myers said his message would be etched by his own experiences.”

“The choice of Mr. Myers represents a departure from his predecessors and is likely to be seen as a bold statement. His books chronicle the lives of many urban teenagers, especially young, poor African-Americans. While his body of work includes poetry, nonfiction and the occasional cheerful picture book for children, its standout books offer themes aimed at young-adult readers: stories of teenagers in violent gangs, soldiers headed to Iraq and juvenile offenders imprisoned for their crimes.”

“While many young-adult authors shy away from such risky subject material, Mr. Myers has used his books to confront the darkness and despair that fill so many children’s lives.”

(Source: NYT: “Children’s Book Envoy Defines His Mission”)

 

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