Best-selling author James Patterson has been selected by AASL President Leslie Preddy as the 2016 Crystal Apple recipient. The honor is awarded to an individual or group that has made a significant impact on school library programs and students. A staunch school library advocate, Patterson has dedicated both time and funds to promote the ways school libraries transform a child’s educational career.
“My aim in supporting school libraries is simple,” said Patterson. “I want to make books available to all kids, in every neighborhood across the country. And once we get kids reading, my hope is that we’ll turn them into lifelong readers. Supporting libraries, which are the heart of every school, is a great place to start.”
In March 2015, Patterson announced plans to give away $1.25 million to school libraries across the United States. The easy-to-apply grant program consisted of individual donations ranging from $1,000 to $10,000. Funds could be used for books, reading programs, technology and repairs. The program received a phenomenal number of requests. In response to this need, Patterson increased his total donation to $1.75 million, and 467 school libraries were awarded much-needed funds to support their students.
Patterson’s support of school libraries is longstanding. He served as spokesperson for the 2008 celebration of School Library Month and recorded a series of public service announcements promoting the work of school librarians. He invited listeners to “discover how worlds connect” at their school library. Following that, Patterson appeared at the 2009 AASL national conference where he presented a special session titled “Turbocharge Your Day with James Patterson!—Read Kiddo Read! Parents and Librarians Band Together to Make Kids Lifelong Readers.” During the event, he thanked school librarians for their important role in a student’s educational career and encouraged them as they strive to bring books to life.
Most recently, Patterson showed social media support for the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act, the first piece of education legislation in fifty years to include effective school libraries as eligible entities for federal education funds.
“James Patterson’s impact on our young people is immeasurable,” said Preddy. “It is my honor to recognize someone who has given and who continues to give so much of himself for the greater good. Through his support of school libraries, he has encouraged and inspired a generation to find joy in reading.”