Paterson, who has chosen “Read for Your Life” as the theme for her platform, was selected by a committee that represents many segments of the book community based on her contributions to young people’s literature and her ability to relate to children.
“Katherine Paterson represents the finest in literature for young people,” says Librarian of Congress James H. Billington, who will announce her appointment in Washington, DC tomorrow morning. “Her renown is national as well as international, and she will most ably fulfill the role of a national ambassador who speaks to the importance of reading and literacy in the lives of America’s youth.”
Paterson’s fame around the globe comes from her hugely popular novels and her efforts to promote literacy in the United States and abroad. She won the Newbery Medal for Bridge to Terabithia (1977)--which was made into a feature film--and Jacob Have I Loved (1981, both Crowell). She also won the National Book Award for The Great Gilly Hopkins (1979) and The Master Puppeteer (1977).
Other awards include the Hans Christian Andersen Medal, the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, and the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, given by her home state of Vermont. Paterson was also named a Living Legend by the Library of Congress in 2000.
Her most recent book, The Day of the Pelican (Clarion, 2009), tells the story of a refugee family’s flight from war-torn Kosovo to America. She and her husband, John, live in Barre, VT, and they have four children and seven grandchildren.
The Library of Congress’s Center for the Book and the Children’s Book Council are the sponsors of the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. Scieszka, who was appointed in 2008, was the first person to hold the title.
“This selection exemplifies the spectacular and diverse pool of talented authors who are writing for children in this country and denotes the breadth and strength of this program,” says Robin Adelson, executive director of the Children's Book Council and Every Child a Reader. “Jon and Katherine have exceedingly different writing styles, yet they are able to captivate and connect with their respective readers in an equally magical way.”