What an honor!
Award winning author, Jason Reynolds was named National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature for 2020-2021, according to the Library of Congress.
The announcement came today via the Library of Congress, the Children’s Book Council and Every Child a Reader. The program was created in 2008 as a way to drive home the importance of youth literature in terms of “lifelong literacy, education and the development and betterment of the lives of young people.” Every year, a selection committee made up of educators, librarians, booksellers and children’s literature experts, chooses a national ambassador based on their contributions to literature for youth, “the ability to relate to children and teens and dedication to fostering children’s literacy in all forms.”
Reynolds is the author of 13 books for youth and has garnered numerous awards including a Newbery Honor, a Printz honor, an NAACP Image Award and several Coretta Scott King Award honors. And to think he didn’t read his first novel cover to cover until he was seventeen years old! As a part of his appointment as National Ambassador, Reynolds will take his “GRAB THE MIC: Tell Your Story” program on the road to spark pertinent conversations with young people across the country, empowering them to share their own stories.
The Washington, DC native spoke about his new role saying, “I can’t even begin to describe how excited I am to embark on this opportunity as ambassador. I don’t expect it to be easy, but I’m certain it will be fruitful. My mission is to take a different approach: Instead of explicitly encouraging young people to read, my goal is to get them to see the value in their own narratives - that they, too, have a story, and that there’s power not just in telling it, but in the opportunity to do so. I’m excited to create spaces around the country for this to happen - spaces where young people can step into their voices and become their own ambassadors.
Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden said “I am thrilled our next National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature is the dynamic, positively electric Jason Reynolds. Jason and his work galvanize readers to believe in themselves, ask critical questions, and create stronger communities.”
Reynolds will also be recording interviews with students on his tour, partnering with StoryCorps to archive a true collection of America’s children’s stories. Recordings will be kept in the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.
Jon Anderson, president and publisher of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing said, “Jason’s bestselling and award-winning books impact the lives of countless readers, but it is how he connects with the thousands of young people he meets each year that makes him a true advocate not only for literacy but for children. We are thrilled that he will focus these next two years on visiting with young people in small towns and really listening.”
Reynolds announced his appointment on CBS This Morning along with Dr. Hayden, taking to social media afterwards to share his thoughts. “It was announced that I am the new National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature! So much work to do. But I’ll do my best. Thanks to the ambassadors that came before … and to all my colleagues who are fighting this fight. I hope I make y’all proud,” he said.
An official inauguration ceremony is set to take place Thursday, January 16th at 10:30am in the Coolidge Auditorium of the Library of Congress’ Thomas Jefferson Building. Tickets are free and open to the public. The even will also be streamed live. For more information visit www.loc.gov.
Congratulations Jason! You make us so very proud!
Photo Courtesy of James J. Reddington/@jasonreynolds83/Instagram