January 4, 2016 Gene Luen Yang Named Fifth National Ambassador For Young People's Literature, 2016–2017
Yang Champions Diversity with his Platform, “Reading Without Walls”
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The Library of Congress, the Children's Book Council (CBC) and Every Child a Reader (ECAR) have announced the appointment of Gene Luen Yang, Printz Award winner and two-time National Book Award finalist, as the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature.
The program was established by the three organizations in 2008 to highlight the importance of young people's literature as it relates to lifelong literacy, education and the development and betterment of the lives of young people. Yang will travel nationwide over the course of his two-year term promoting his platform, "Reading Without Walls," showing kids and teens that reading is a vital part of their lives and speaking to parents, teachers, librarians—everyone invested in young people's literacy—about how better to connect with kids and teens and help them love reading. Yang succeeds beloved and esteemed authors Jon Scieszka (2008-2009), Katherine Paterson (2010-2011), Walter Dean Myers (2012-2013) and Kate DiCamillo (2014-2015) in the position. Gene Luen Yang is the first graphic novelist to be named National Ambassador for Young People's Literature.
The inaugural ceremony, presided over by acting Librarian of Congress David S. Mao and featuring both Yang and DiCamillo, will take place on Thursday, Jan. 7 at 11 a.m. in room LJ-119 of the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington D.C. The event is open to the public; no tickets are required.
"I'm thrilled and humbled to be appointed National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. Reading breaks down the walls that divide us. By reading, we get to know people outside of our own communities," said Yang. "We gain knowledge others don't expect us to have. We discover new and surprising passions. Reading is critical to our growth, both as individuals and as a society. The Library of Congress, Children's Book Council and Every Child a Reader all empower people by getting them to read. I'm honored to take up that mission myself and to carry on the amazing work of the ambassadors before me," he said.
"Gene Yang is a talented writer. He is a brilliant artist. His stories are thought-provoking, genre-bending, utterly original examinations of the human heart. In short, Gene Yang is a renaissance man. I am so honored to pass the torch of this sacred task to Gene. No one is better suited for bringing us all together," said Kate DiCamillo, two-time Newbery Award winner and National Ambassador for Young People's Literature Emeritus.
"What an inspired choice the selection committee has made in Gene. He is a brilliant storyteller who makes meaningful and profound connections with readers of all ages. And he has been a de facto ambassador for reading, inclusion and graphic novels for years. I can't think of anyone better than Gene to break down the walls stopping people from becoming lifelong lovers of reading," said Jon Yaged, president and publisher of Macmillan Children's Publishing Group, Yang's publisher.
"We are thrilled that Gene Luen Yang has agreed to be the new National Ambassador for Young People's Literature," said John Y. Cole, director of the Center for the Book (CFB) at the Library of Congress, which administers the ambassador program with the Children's Book Council. "Gene's message of inclusion and acceptance of all people is especially relevant today. The Library of Congress looks forward to the next two years of Gene's promotion of reading and literacy among young people."
Jon Colman, executive director of the CBC added, "We couldn't be more pleased with the selection of Gene Luen Yang as the next ambassador. He embodies everything that we look for in this position and we can't think of a more fitting person to be representing young people's literature over the next two years."
The National Ambassador is selected for his or her contributions to young people's literature, the ability to relate to kids and teens, and a dedication to fostering children's literacy as a whole. The selection is based on recommendations from a CBC-ECAR-CFB-appointed committee comprising educators, librarians, booksellers and children's literature experts.
The Library of Congress Center for the Book, established by Congress in 1977 to "stimulate public interest in books and reading," is a national force for reading and literacy promotion. A public-private partnership, it sponsors educational programs that reach readers of all ages through its affiliated state centers, collaborations with nonprofit reading promotion partners and through the Young Readers Center and the Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress. For more information, visit read.gov.
The Library of Congress, the nation's first-established federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds more than 160 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on-site in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill and through its award-winning website at loc.gov.