The latest Ambassador of Young People's Literature is Kate DiCamillo, a much lauded and beloved writer of books for children. And by children, I mean young people who are definitely and certainly NOT young adults. Given the at-times overwhelming focus on books for young adults it is refreshing to see this appointment, one that validates the bulk of young readers in this country, especially those in the middle as they have been the prime audience for DiCamillo's books.
The Ambassador is a collaborative venture of The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, the Children's Book Council, and Every Child a Reader "...to raise national awareness of the importance of young people's literature as it relates to lifelong literacy, education and the development and betterment of the lives of young people." Previous holders of the prestigious position have been Jon Scieszka, Katherine Paterson, and Walter Dean Myers.
DiCamillo burst on the children's book scene in 2000 with Because of Winn-Dixie, a lovely book about a community, a girl, and a dog that continues to resonate with its intended audience almost 15 years later. With her second book, Tiger Rising (a National Book Award nominee), she ventured a bit further into magical realism and then jumped wholeheartedly into the world of fantasy and fairy tale with The Tale of Despereaux, the winner of the 2004 Newbery Medal. Her latest title is Flora & Ulysses --another work that resonates beautifully for children right in the middle -- say ages 6 to 10. I know from firsthand experience, having read it aloud to my fourth grade class last spring with great success. In my experience, her books work beautifully both for children to read on their own and to be read aloud by teachers, parents, or others.
Bravo to the selection committee for their commitment to these truly young readers and congratulations to Kate DiCamillo. May her term be a great one!
Also at educating alice.