Acclaimed young adult and children's book author Walter Dean Myers will be the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, the
announced Tuesday. Myers, 74, has won the Coretta Scott King Award five times, been honored with the Newbery Medal twice, was a finalist for the National Book Award and received the Printz Award for his bestselling book "Monster."
Myers will be the third writer to hold the post and the first African American. Brought up in Harlem, where many of his stories take place, Myers never finished high school yet remained a dedicated reader. He has published more than 100 books.
As ambassador he has adopted the platform "Reading Is Not Optional."
"I think that what we need to do is say reading is going to really affect your life," he said in an interview at his book-cluttered house here in Jersey City, adding that he hoped to speak directly to low-income minority parents. "You take a black man who doesn't have a job, but you say to him, 'Look, you can make a difference in your child's life, just by reading to him for 30 minutes a day.' That's what I would like to do."
In 2009, John Scieszka, the first National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, wrote in the
that "history comes artistically to life" in Myer's young adult book "Sunrise Over Fallujah."