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Gene Luen Yang Named National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature

On Monday, the Children’s Book Council in conjunction with the Every Child a Reader, and the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress announced that graphic novel creator Gene Luen Yang will be the next National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.

AmericanBornChineseYang is no stranger to breaking barriers in the children’s and YA literature scene. In 2006 he was the first graphic novel creator to win the Printz Award, and he has been a National Book Award Finalist (2 times!) for graphic novels. Though today, graphic novels are practically mainstream in bookstores, libraries, and classrooms, early in Yang’s career it was still a challenge to convince adults that reading graphic novels was reading too. Today, many other mainstream literary awards have been awarded to graphic novels, such as last year’s Newbery honor book, El Deafo, and This One Summer garnered both a Caldecott honor and Printz honor.

BoxersThe National Ambassador is selected based on the following criteria: 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.

Yang is taking the reins over from Kate DiCamillo, who has won multiple Newbery awards and Newbery honors. In addition, this position was held by on Jon Scieszka (2008–2009), Katherine Paterson (2010–2011), and Walter Dean Myers (2012–2013).

The inauguration will take place on Thursday, January 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.

Esther Keller About Esther Keller

Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. Her collection is also the model for all middle school libraries in NYC. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library, and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 4 and regularly reviews for SLJ and School Library Connection (formerly LMC). In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.

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