Yesterday, Jason Reynolds closed his tenure as the 2020-2022 National Ambassador for Young People's Literature by celebrating his GRAB THE MIC: Tell Your Story platform. The Library of Congress livestreamed the event (available on YouTube), during which local area student ambassadors interviewed Reynolds and then he spoke about his term, which launched just as the Covid pandemic hit.
Before the event, in an interview with NPR's Morning Edition Tuesday, Reynolds looked back on his time as ambassador and the position's mandate: to be the ambassador for reading and writing for young people in the U.S. "The way that I decided to interpret that, though, is: How could I convince young people who may not like to read that they have a story of their own, and that their story is as important as everything that their teachers and parents are trying to get them to read," he said.
Reynolds visited some 16,000 students at 47 schools across 25 states, many of which were in rural and underserved communities, and he wants whoever succeeds him in the role to see it as a job, not just an award. "Stories happen to be the most human thing we have to offer, right?" he noted. "Which means that the work that we're doing in storytelling is actually human work. And I just want to make sure the next person understands that as they take on the task....
"Whoever takes on this road next, all I want them to do is make sure that they understand that this is not an award. This is a job. It's a real responsibility, which means that they have to throw themselves at it with all the fervor and love in their being to make sure that the young people in this country know that we care not just about whether or not they read or write, but that we care about them."
"Jason Reynolds' tenure as National Ambassador has been nothing short of magic," said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. "For three years, Jason toured the country, empowering students to believe in their own stories. I am deeply grateful for his profound and rare ability to connect, always buoying us in creative, empathic ways."