I almost skipped the final segment of the PBS Newshour on Friday. They announced an interview with the newly chosen National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, a position I’d never heard of. I feared it might involve a discussion of post-Twilight, YA romance. Fortunately, I stuck around, for the interview was profoundly inspiring.
The new National Ambassador, a position created by the Library of Congress in 2008, is Kate DiCamillo, author of Because of Winn-Dixie and The Tale of Despereaux. The author of these award winning books for children claims to have been the shyest kid ever. How did she come out of her shell and become an ambassador? By telling stories, she says. “And telling stories helped me connect with the world. And it turned me into somebody who can talk to people, I think.”
This Newberry Award winning author calls herself a late bloomer and kept a notebook where she tracked all 450 rejection letters she got before her first story was accepted. Over the next two years, as ambassador for children’s literature, she hopes to “remind people of the great and profound joy that can be found in stories, and that stories can connect us to each other, and that reading together changes everybody involved.”
I invite everyone to watch Ms. DiCamillo’s interview. It’s an upbeat testament to the power of stories and the power of persistence by someone whose life embodies these truths.