Gene Luen | National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature

Gene Luen Yang will succeed Kate DiCamillo as the next National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.

He joins a list of distinguished kid lit names, Jon Scieszka (2008–2009), Katherine Paterson (2010–2011), Walter Dean Myers (2012–2013), and Kate DiCamillo (2014–2015) in the position which was established in 2008.  Yang is well known as the creator of the graphic novels,

American Born Chinese and Boxers & Saint, both published by Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group/First Second Books.  Both books were finalists for the National Book Award.  He is also the author of the Secret Coders series (with artist Mike Holmes) and has written for the hit comics Avatar: The Last Airbender and Superman.

“What an inspired choice the selection committee has made in Gene,” said Jon Aged, President and Publisher of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group.  “He has been a de facto ambassador for reading, inclusion, and graphic novels for years.”

Yang who is a champion of diversity in all forms and reading for non-readers has selected the theme of Reading Without Walls as his platform.  After his inauguration at the Library of Congress on January 7, Yang will be traveling around the country during 2016 and 2017 speaking to groups about young people’s literacy.

The ambassador program is jointly administered by The Children’s Book Council (CBC), Every Child a Reader (ECAR), and the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress (CFB) 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.

Gene Luen Yang
Gene Luen Yang

“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.  “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.”

The National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature raises national awareness of 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.


The National Ambassador is selected for: their contributions to young people’s literature, their ability to relate to kids and teens, and their dedication to fostering children’s literacy as a whole. The selection is based on recommendations from a CBC-ECAR-CFB-appointed committee comprised of educators, librarians, booksellers, and children’s literature experts.

The members of the selection committee for the 2016–2017 ambassadorship were:

  •  Betsy Bird, Collection Development Manager of Evanston Public Library
  •  Shelley M. Diaz, Senior Editor, Reviews at School Library Journal 
  •  Kate DiCamillo, Newbery Medal–winning author, National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, 2014-15
  •  Jonathan Hunt, Coordinator of Library Media Services at the San Diego County Office of Education
  •  Kimberly L. Jones, Store Manager at Little Shop of Stories, Decatur, GA
  •  Deborah Taylor, Coordinator of School and Student Services at Enoch Pratt Free Library
  •  Lisa Von Drasek, Curator of the Children’s Literature Research Collections at University of Minnesota Libraries


Photo Credit: (c) ALBERT LAW

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Kid Lit TV Commenter Anthony

Choosing Mr. Yang means essential cultural and ideological
Will be featured, discussed, honored, and, yes, explored through the reading experiences. Bravo.


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