Jason Reynolds Photo credit: Adedeyo Kosoko

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About the New Ambassador, Jason Reynolds

Reynolds is the author of 13 books for young people including his most recent, Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks, a National Book Award finalist, which was named a Best Book of 2019 by NPR, The New York Times, The Washington Post and TIME.  A native of Washington, D.C., Reynolds began writing poetry at 9 years old, and is the recipient of a Newbery Honor, a Printz Honor, an NAACP Image Award, and multiple Coretta Scott King Award honors.

For his two-year term as National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Reynolds will visit small towns across America to have meaningful discussions with young people. Through his platform, “GRAB THE MIC: Tell Your Story,” Reynolds, who regularly talks about his journey from reluctant reader to award-winning author, will redirect his focus as ambassador by listening and empowering students to embrace and share their own personal stories.

“I can’t even begin to describe how excited I am to embark on this opportunity as ambassador,” Jason Reynolds said. “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.”

Reynolds will partner with renowned nonprofit organization StoryCorps, which celebrates the stories of everyday Americans, to record interviews with students while on tour and create a true story archive of America’s children. Recordings will be housed in the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Reynolds is not new to conducting interviews; at the age of 21, he worked as a StoryCorps facilitator, guiding participants through the interview process.

Jason Reynolds’s Books and Awards

Jason Reynolds is a New York Times bestselling author, a Newbery Award Honoree, a Printz Award Honoree, National Book Award Honoree, a Kirkus Award winner, a two-time Walter Dean Myers Award winner, an NAACP Image Award Winner, and the recipient of multiple Coretta Scott King honors. The American Booksellers Association’s 2017 and 2018 spokesperson for Indies First, his many books include When I Was the Greatest, Boy in the Black Suit, All American Boys (cowritten with Brendan Kiely), As Brave as You, For Every One, the Track series (Ghost, Patina, Sunny, and Lu), Look Both Ways, and Long Way Down, which received both a Newbery Honor and a Printz Honor. He lives in Washington, DC. You can find his ramblings at JasonWritesBooks.com.

2020-2021 Selection Committee

The National Ambassador is selected for his or her contributions to young people’s literature, the ability to relate to kids and teens, and dedication to fostering children’s literacy in all forms. The selection, made by the Librarian of Congress, is based on recommendations from an independent committee comprising educators, librarians, booksellers, and children’s literature experts.

The 2020-2021 selection committee for the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature:

  • Emma Kantor, associate children’s book editor at Publishers Weekly
  • Philip Nel, university distinguished professor of English and director of the Graduate Program in Children’s Literature at Kansas State University
  • Cristina Nosti, director, events and marketing at Books & Books, Coral Gables, Florida
  • Karli Pederson, children’s librarian and acquisitions and serials manager at Milwaukee Public Library
  • Laura Pegram, founding editor in chief and publisher of Kweli Journal
  • Eva Volin, supervising children’s librarian at Alameda Free Library, Alameda, California
  • Jacqueline Woodson, 2018-2019 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, bestselling and award-winning author

Learn more about the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature program.

Meet Jason Reynolds and learn about his inspiring platform, "GRAB THE MIC: Tell Your Story"

Learn more about Reynold's platform, including weekly videos and his newsletter.

Find out where Jason Reynolds is traveling during his two year term!

Who were our past ambassadors and their platforms?

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