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An Ambassador of a different kind


Staff member
Jan 13, 2024
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Countries appoint many Ambassadors, hundreds of them typically, to represent themselves to other nations, international organizations and global programs.

But did you know that we also have a National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature? Meet Gene Luen Yang.

So what exactly does the National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature do?

Appointed by the Library of Congress, the Every Child a Reader program, and the Children’s Book Council, the Ambassador traverses the country over a two-year term, meeting with kids, parents, librarians, teachers, and influencers, to promote literacy and share his/her love of children’s literature.

Mr. Yang is the nation’s 5th Ambassador. He follows in the footsteps of noted children’s book authors Jon Scieszka, Katherine Paterson, Walter Dean Myers, and Kate DiCamillo. He is an accomplished graphic book novelist and his books have won many awards. He is also a two-time National Book Award finalist for his graphic novels for teens:


American Born Chinese

Boxers and Saints

We’ve read Boxers and Saints in our home, and found it enigmatic but amazing – dark but illuminating all at once. It is about China’s Boxer Rebellion, a piece of history we knew nothing about before. American Born Chinese is on our list now.

Each Ambassador comes up with his/her own platform. Mr. Yang’s is “Reading Without Walls.” He challenges young readers to go outside their zone of experience, in terms of characters, topics and book format. Tools and resources for the challenge are provided on his website (“Reading Without Walls” bingo, anyone?). Perhaps your local library or school would be interested in implementing this challenge…?

Check out Gene Yang’s website to find out more about his graphic novels and comic books, his “Reading Without Walls” platform, and his travel itinerary – maybe you will get to see the Ambassador at an event or library near you very soon.

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