The Library of Congress announced yesterday that, through its Center for the Book, it will create the post of National Ambassador for Young People's Literature.
Appointed for a two-year term by the Librarian of Congress, the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature will speak to the importance of fiction and non-fiction books in children's lives. Selected for extraordinary contributions to the world of books for young people, the National Ambassador will encourage the appreciation of young people's literature throughout the United States through both personal and media appearances.
"The Ambassador will be an award-winning author or illustrator whose position will acknowledge at the national level the importance of exceptional authors and illustrators in creating the readers of tomorrow," said James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress.
The National Ambassador program is a joint initiative of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and the Children's Book Council (CBC). The appointment of the first National Ambassador for Young People's Literature will be announced in January 2008.
"We are thrilled. The National Ambassador for Young People's Literature will honor and promote the essential role young people's literature plays in every aspect of our society," said Simon Boughton, Chair of the CBC Board of Directors and Executive Vice President & Publisher of Roaring Brook Press.
The National Ambassador for Young People's Literature will travel and speak extensively during the two-year term, participating in book and reading promotion events throughout the United States. While each term will bring new events in different areas of the country, the National Ambassador will speak in Washington, DC each fall at the National Book Festival and in New York City each spring during Children's Book Week.
The National Ambassador will choose a platform on which the two-year term will focus. This platform will emphasize literacy, education, and related issues concerning books and young people. In addition to regular speaking engagements, the National Ambassador will work with national media outlets to promote this platform to an even wider audience.
The National Ambassador for Young People's Literature position is patterned after the Children's Laureate in the United Kingdom. The Center for the Book and the Children's Book Council will administer the project jointly, including naming the Selection Committee, overseeing the selection process, and organizing the National Ambassador's travel schedule.
The Selection Committee will consider all nationally-prominent creators of fiction and non-fiction books for children and young adults in the United States. Selection criteria will include, but will not be limited to, level of national prominence and popularity with young people, as well as the candidate's known enthusiasm for specific issues in children's and/or young adult literature.
Financial support for the National Ambassador program is provided by Cheerios(r) cereal, which has been getting books into children's hands and encouraging families to read together through its Spoonfuls of Stories(r) program. Over the past 5 years, Cheerios Spoonfuls of Stories has distributed more than 25 million books free inside boxes of Cheerios cereal, and donated more than $2 million to First Book(r), an international children's literacy organization. Additional financial support for this program is provided by HarperCollins Children's Books, Penguin Young Readers Group, Random House Children's Books, Holiday House, Inc., National Geographic Children's Books, Houghton Mifflin Company, Harcourt Children's Books and Candlewick Press. The CBC, through its associated 501(c)(3) entity, the CBC Foundation, is seeking additional financial support for the National Ambassador program from the private sector and encourages those interested in supporting this exciting program to contact CBC and CBC Foundation Executive Director, Robin Adelson at 212-966-1990 or Robin.Adelson@cbcbbooks.org .
The Children's Book Council, established in 1945, is the non-profit trade association of publishers and packagers of trade books and related materials for children and young adults in the United States. The goals of the Children's Book Council are to make the reading and enjoyment of children's books an essential part of America's educational and social goals; to enhance public perception of the importance of reading by disseminating information about books and related materials for young people and information about children's book publishing; to create materials to support literacy and reading encouragement programs; and to encourage the annual observance of Children's Book Week.
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. Its entire program is supported by private funds. To carry out its mission, the center has created two national networks: affiliates in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and national reading promotion partners, mostly non-profit organizations, such as the Children's Book Council, that promote books, reading, literacy, and libraries. The Center for the Book plays a key role in the development of the National Book Festival, held each year on the National Mall in Washington, DC.