Newberry winner Meg Medina has been selected as the 2023-2024 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. The Library of Congress, in partnership with Every Child a Reader, seeks to raise awareness of literature for young readers in order to promote literacy and highlight the power of reading to positively impact young lives.
About Medina’s Work
Medina’s books reflect her Cuban-American heritage as she examines culture and identity through the eyes of young protagonists. Her middle-grade novel Merci Suarez Changes Gears, the first in a series of three books, is a coming-of-age story about a thoughtful, strong-willed sixth-grader who has to navigate life’s changes with friends and family. It was awarded the 2019 Newbery Medal and was named by the New York Times Book Review as a notable children’s book.
Medina’s Role as National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature
In her new role, Medina will travel the country, engaging readers through her ¡Cuéntame!: Let’s talk books platform. The name of her platform borrows a Spanish expression used when friends and family members are catching up with one another. Medina’s goal is to encourage connection among families, classrooms, libraries, and communities through conversations about books. In addition to discussing her own work, Medina plans to host “book talks” with kids about a range of authors, styles, and genres. She hopes to not only expose readers to books that reflect their own lives, but to also expose readers to new perspectives through characters who represent a variety of lived experiences.
Medina says, “It’s an enormous honor to advocate for the reading and writing lives of our nation’s children and families. I realize the responsibility is critical, but with the fine examples of previous ambassadors to guide me, I am eager to get started on my vision for this important work. More than anything, I want to make reading and story-sharing something that happens beyond classroom and library walls. I want to tap into books and stories as part of everyday life, with all of us coming to the table to share the tales that speak to us and that broaden our understanding of one another.”
History of the Role
The designation of a National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature began in 2008. The Library of Congress makes their selection based on recommendations by a field of experts, including educators, librarians, booksellers, and children’s literature specialists. The position was last held by author Jason Reynolds, and other former ambassadors include Jon Scieszka, Katherine Paterson, Kate DiCamillo, and Jacqueline Woodson.
In the News
You can watch Medina’s inauguration as National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature here, and learn about this former teacher’s perspective on reading and her mission to revitalize joy in readers. To learn more about Medina’s travels and events, visit the Every Child a Reader website. Watch for downloadable materials related to Medina’s mission and appearances coming soon.
Congratulations to middle-grade author Meg Medina for this special honor. We will be watching as young people across the country engage with reading through ¡Cuéntame!: Let’s talk books.