Ms. Paterson, who is perhaps best known for the novel "Bridge to Terabithia," said it was reading that informed her future writing self. As the daughter of missionary parents in China, she read her way through her parents' library of children's classics by A. A. Milne, Beatrix Potter, Robert Louis Stevenson, Rudyard Kipling, Kenneth Grahame and Frances Hodgson Burnett. "That is where the friends were," she said, evoking her lonely childhood.
Now, as ambassador -- a joint appointment by the Library of Congress's Center for the Book and Every Child a Reader, a nonprofit group affiliated with the Children's Book Council, a trade association for children's book publishers -- Ms. Paterson hopes to share the unfettered pleasure that reading can deliver.