The Library of Congress and Every Child a Reader have announced that Jason Reynolds will extend his term as National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature for a third year. This move marks a first in the literacy program’s history.
Following his inauguration in January 2020, Reynolds launched his platform, “Grab the Mic: Tell Your Story,’ which aims to empower young people to harness their voices by sharing their own narratives. The author was forced to pivot his plans for an in-person tour, however, with the onset of the pandemic. Thanks to the additional term, Reynolds will have the opportunity to meet in person with students in rural communities nationwide. He will also create an archive of student stories.
Reynolds said in a statement, “I can’t believe I’m even being afforded the opportunity to extend my ambassadorship a third year. If the goal has changed at all, it’s to be even more present in the lives of the young people I’m serving. More storytelling, more cultural exchange, more creativity, more connection—and this time, in person. Like I said at the start of this, this appointment is not an obligation, but an opportunity to put a spotlight on the collective stories of young America, all while encouraging them to hold those stories, and mold them into whatever they want them to be.”
This November and December, Reynolds will embark on his third virtual tour as National Ambassador. Participating schools, which were selected from more than 200 proposals, will include:
- Bald Eagle Area High School in Wingate, Pa.
- Bronson Jr./Sr. High School in Bronson, Mich.
- ESSDACK in McPherson, Kans.
- Gowanda Central Schools in Gowanda, N.Y.
- Johnson High School in Laredo, Tex.
- Los Fresnos Consolidated Independent School District in Los Fresnos, Tex.
- Marshall High School in Marshall, Wisc.
- Yamhill Carlton School District in Yamhill, Ore.
The ambassador’s first two online tours connected him with thousands of students across the country. In March 2020, Reynolds launched “Brain Yoga,” a weekly Instagram Live video series inviting young people to join him onscreen to participate in an imagination-fueled game. And in April 2020, in conjunction with the LOC, he premiered a 30-part video series for kids, “Write. Right. Rite,” which featured prompts to spark creativity.
Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden said, “I am elated Jason will continue on in his role as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. Jason’s Grab the Mic platform has proven that connecting with kids on their level empowers real world growth in reading and writing. I am eager to see how Jason will expand his message, encouraging kids to share their own stories in and beyond their own communities.”
With the support of Dollar General Literacy Foundation, the LOC has purchased paperback copies of Reynolds’s Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks for participating schools. Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing will also continue to support the National Ambassador program.
Reynolds announced and discussed his third term during an interview on NPR’s TED Radio Hour podcast at the Library of Congress National Book Festival. You can listen to the full episode here.
The proposal period for schools that would like to be considered for Reynolds’s spring 2022 tour is September 24 through December 1. Further details are available here. Educators are also encouraged to visit the Every Child a Reader website to download Reynolds’s “Grab the Mic: Tell Your Story” educator guides.
Note: Emma Kantor served on the 2020–2021 selection committee that nominated Jason Reynolds for National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.