Passion for something typically drives a person to succeed. Sherrie Young is passionate about literacy, especially in youth. When her mother worked for a publishing company while she was growing up, she brought books home for Sherrie and a career was born before her developmental years.
Young, who is the Co-Founder/Executive Director of YB Literary Foundation is also the Director of Marketing and Special Projects for the National Book Foundation. BlackEnterprise.com got Young to put a book down long enough to speak about her role in her purpose in promoting literacy from the young to the old.
BlackEnterprise.com: You are the Director of Marketing and Special Projects for the National Book Foundation, how long have you been in this position and what do you do?
Sherrie Young: I’ve been in this position for over ten years. My job is to direct all marketing activities with the goal of increasing the visibility of the organization’s efforts; and this involves creating and executing events, overseeing publicity, and developing digital marketing strategies.
What led you down the path to take an interest in a field like literacy and having an interest in books?
My mother worked for a publishing company until I was six years old and she always brought home books, which I would try to read. Even though I didn’t always know what I was reading, I felt that I was being let in on secrets. Actually, I was just a curious child and wanted to know as much about the world as possible and books gave me that window. I remember feeling smart when I figured out what a word meant or when I learned something new. From there, you will always find me with a book.
While in high school I helped elementary and junior-high school kids with their homework. It was then when I noticed that many of the kids avoided or struggled to do homework that involved reading and writing. I wanted the kids to feel the joy that I got when I read at their age. So, to get the kids to do their homework assignments, I would make up little games to get them excited about the book or story they had to read or write. I just didn’t want the kids to read because they had to, I wanted them to read deeply and to visualize what the words on the page meant to them.
You’re also the Co-Founder/Executive Director of YB Literary Foundation, what is the purpose of this organization and how do you manage to effectively work these positions?
The purpose of YB Literary is to promote the reading of literature as a meaningful, life-long activity and transformative experience for youth. It’s not difficult to effectively manage these positions because it’s who I am. I enjoy creating fun activities that will get people excited about reading and then seeing how people are transformed by those activities that exposed them to the power of the written word. I’m a progressive thinker who has a passion for developing innovative approaches to spark the intellectual curiosity of youth.
What do you think would make more people read and do you think, with the way this society reacts to instant gratification when it comes to getting news online and on mobile devices, there is a way to make reading, for lack of a better word, sexier?
I first think you have to trick people into reading for pleasure and through pleasure they will learn something about themselves and the world around them.
Second, they must know it’s okay to question what they read. It’s empowering when the reader acknowledges that he or she can ask, “What is this news piece, this essay, this contract, this tweet conveying to me?” “What is not being said to me?”
What gets you up daily to go to your job and do what you do?
I enjoy making a difference.
What inspires you?
To know that if I was wealthy and didn’t have to work for a living, I would still promote literacy and the pleasure of reading.
Is there anything else you do outside of your literacy duties?
I design and make flip-flops out of recycled materials. Just as I believe that the mind should be healthy and strong, I also believe in creating a greener, healthy and happier planet. There’s nothing better than going to a park, laying on the lawn, wearing my flip-flops and reading a book.
As an entrepreneur, what advice would you give someone who has a strong interest in something they enjoy and want to make a career out of it?
Go for it! Immerse yourself in what you’re interested in and enjoy. When you’re doing something that you enjoy the challenges and disappointments that you will encounter is part of your wonderful journey.
If you could change anything in the world, what would it be and why?
It would be that everyone is given the opportunity to discover what they are good at or to discover their gifts, and to use their gift(s) to make the world a better place.