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Posts Tagged ‘Reading Ambassador’

There’s nothing more powerful than hearing the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature tell kids straight:

“Reading is not optional!”

Taking up this preeminent position in the US on January 10th, noted YA author, Walter Dean Myers, is intent on ensuring that every child embraces reading.   Raised by foster parents in Harlem in the 40’s, Myers dropped out of high school at 17 to join the army.  Being teased as a youngster, Myers recollects taking a paper bag to the library so as to hide what he was bringing home.  Admitting to leading with his fits during school days, he struggled academically, but recollects with fondness the one teacher who told him he was good at writing.  And write he did.  Walter Dean Myers, the recipient of numerous awards: two Newbery Honours, three National Book Award finalists, winner of the Margaret A. Edwards Award, the Michael L. Printz Award, and five Coretta Scott King Awards writes over a range of genres including picture books, lyric poetry, fantasy, biography, and realistic fiction.

In a recent interview with Publisher’s Weekly, Myers said:

“We all know we should eat right and we should exercise, but reading is treated as if it’s this wonderful adjunct. ‘Reading takes you to faraway places,’ ” Myers said. “We’re still thinking in terms of enticing kids to read with a sports book or a book about war. We’re suggesting that they’re missing something if they don’t read but, actually, we’re condemning kids to a lesser life. If you had a sick patient, you would not try to entice them to take their medicine. You would tell them, ‘Take this or you’re going to die.’ We need to tell kids flat out: reading is not optional.”

As the National Year of Reading unfolds in Australia throughout 2012, it will be interesting to listen to the words of our Reading Ambassadors.

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