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2020 National Book Festival Highlights: Gene Luen Yang

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Welcome to our ongoing celebration of the 2020 Library of Congress National Book Festival! If you love storytelling or are simply curious about the world, you’ve landed in the right place. As a way into this vast — and vastly fascinating — festival celebrating “American Ingenuity,” we offer here a string of highlights that truly illustrate the resilience, intelligence and wit of this year’s authors. Please enjoy, and make sure to explore our full National Book Festival video collection and special limited-time content on the Virtual Festival Platform.

When Gene Luen Yang was named the 2016-2018 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, the honor represented more than just recognition for his extraordinary work. It was also a profound acknowledgment of the importance of a genre that was once relegated to being mere comics.

Yang was the fifth National Ambassador, but the first graphic novelist to receive the honor.

The Library of Congress and the Children’s Book Council bestow the ambassadorship on a writer 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.

In “Dragon Hoops” (First Second), Yang’s first nonfiction work, he turns the spotlight on his life, his family, basketball and the high school where he once taught. In “Superman Smashes the Klan” (DC Comics), a Chinese-American teenager awakens to find his house surrounded by the Klan of the Fiery Kross.

In the video Yang recorded exclusively for the Library, he speaks eloquently about the importance of libraries in disseminating stories: “Libraries are the keepers of stories. Stories define culture, right? Whether or not we have hopeful culture or a culture that’s mired in despair is completely up to the stories that we tell. It’s completely up to the stories that are taken care of by our libraries, that are collected and disseminated by our libraries.”

Videos from more than 120 fascinating authors are available on the festival’s various stages. In addition to Yang, authors such as Nic Stone, M.T. Anderson, Mike Curato and co-writers Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed were on the Teens stage. To find them go to the Virtual Festival Platform (Go to “Stages” tab and select “Teens.” Click on “Sessions” and select an author).

These books may have been specifically written for a teen audience but they have something to offer for readers of any age.

The 2020 Library of Congress National Book Festival celebrated its 20th birthday this year. You can get up-to-the-minute festival news, highlights, and other important information by subscribing to this blog. The festival is made possible by the generosity of sponsors. You can support the festival, too, by making a gift now.


  1. I love my American Library of Congress! We need a world flag in honor of Humanity for us all!

    Lincoln encouraged reunification of our country after the Civil War with Thanksgiving. I hope we have a Thanksgiving for all we lived through and mourned in 2020.

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