On Monday, January 4th, the Library of Congress announced Gene Luen Yang as the 2016-17 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. The position 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.
Yang is the fifth to hold the position. Previous National Ambassadors for Young People’s Literature are Jon Scieszka, Katherine Paterson, Walter Dean Myers, and most recently, Kate DiCamillo.
Yang’s heralded work speaks to themes of growing up, sense of self, personal beliefs, identity within a group, cultural heritage, and stereotypes. Expressed in multiple media, the combinations of drawings and words make these themes even more accessible.
Watch Gene Luen Yang at the 2014 National Book Festival as he speaks about the benefits of teaching with graphic novels and speaks to teens about his books and the state of graphic novels today.
Update, April 19, 2016: Webcast of the inaugural ceremony for the 2016-2017 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.