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NewsJan 15, 2020

Jason Reynolds named National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature

Creative writing professor to travel the country encouraging students to ‘GRAB THE MIC’

Jason Reynolds in regalia at Commencement 2018

Celebrated author Jason Reynolds is the 2020-2021 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. The Library of Congress, Children’s Book Council and Every Child a Reader announced the two-year appointment on Monday.

Reynolds, a faculty member in our MFA in Creative Writing program, succeeds “Another Brooklyn” and “Red at the Bone” author Jacqueline Woodson. He will be the seventh ambassador for the program, which began in 2008.

“I can't even begin to describe how excited I am to embark on this opportunity as ambassador,” Reynolds said in a statement released by the Library of Congress. “I don't expect it to be easy, but I'm certain it will be fruitful. “

With 13 published books, including the recent “Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks,” Reynolds has become a popular and singular voice in young adult literature. The author often speaks about his own early years as a reluctant reader and says his books are for students who don’t see themselves reflected in the pages they’re assigned in school.

In addition to becoming a favorite among young readers, Reynolds and his books have been recognized repeatedly in the publishing world. He is a National Book Award Finalist, a recipient of the Newbery and Printz honors, an NAACP Image Award and several Coretta Scott King Awards.

As ambassador, Reynold will travel to small towns across America to speak about books and reading. He’ll encourage kids to share dialog about their own lives through his platform, “GRAB THE MIC: Tell Your Story.”

“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,” he said in the press release. “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.”

Jason Reynolds speaks to Lesley graduates at 2018 Commencement.

Reynolds, who received an honorary degree from Lesley in 2018, plans to record through a partnership with StoryCorps, a nonprofit organization that collects true stories. The recordings will be preserved in the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

Danielle Legros Georges, director of our MFA in Creative Writing program, applauded the news.

“He’s had a huge impact in the field of writing for young people, and touched the lives of so many readers, young and old,” said Georges. “His impact is absolutely felt here, and I don’t doubt he’ll be a wonderful advocate and ambassador. We’re absolutely thrilled that Jason has been chosen the next National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.”