PEN Member Walter Dean Myers has been named the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, a position created by the Library of Congress and the Children’s Book Council to raise 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. Myers, who has written more than one hundred books of fiction and nonfiction for children and teens, will serve a two-year term. He is the third person to hold the post, after Jon Scieszka and Katherine Paterson.

The theme for Myers’s term is Reading is Not Optional.

“I think that what we need to do is say reading is going to really affect your life,” Myers told The New York Times in January.

Myers has been an active PEN member. He served as a judge for the 2007 PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship and spoke on the 2009 panel, Who Will Speak for the Child: Human Rights at Home and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, co-sponsored by the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy and the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice.