Popular award-winning children’s author, Walter Dean Myers, has been named National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.  Myers’ conversation with Jenée Desmond-Harris, writer for The Root, is peppered with his assertions about the importance of literacy as the passport to opportunity for black children.  He reminds readers “that equality of opportunity is meaningless if black kids aren’t literate.”  Like others, he is trying to spread the word “that those who miss out on literacy will be lost.”  He notes that as the country comes out of its economic troubles, it is the people with skills who will recover better, and reading skills are the basic skills that they need.  Participation in the penal system, for example, is a common consequence of not reading in the African-American community.

His advice to parents is to begin reading something age appropriate to the child at 2 months and to read to the child every day.  As the parent reads to the child, s/he should encourage the child to look at the pictures and to participate by engaging the child in conversations that will cause the child to make predictions, recall facts, etc.

He recommends the following books for African-American children by black authors: