Gene Luen Yang, the acclaimed Bay Area graphic novelist, has been appointed the new national ambassador for young people’s literature.
Twice a finalist for the National Book Award — for “American Born Chinese” (2006) and “Boxers & Saints” (2013) — Yang, 42, will be inaugurated to the two-year term on Thursday at the Library of Congress. He will succeed Kate DiCamillo, best known as the author of “The Tale of Despereaux.”
“I’m thrilled and humbled,” Yang said in a statement. “Reading breaks down the walls that divide us. By reading, we get to know people outside of our own communities.”
Raised in the Bay Area by Chinese immigrants, Yang began drawing comic books in the fifth grade. The UC Berkeley graduate is now a full-time graphic novelist; he taught math and computer science at Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland until last year. He lives in Fremont with his wife and four children.
Yang’s new position will have him traveling throughout the United States to preach the virtues of reading, meeting with young people, parents, teachers and librarians. The post was established in 2008 by the Children’s Book Council, Every Child a Reader, and the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.
The position of National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature was created to raise 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 for Young People’s Literature is named by the Librarian of Congress for a two-year term, based on recommendations from a selection committee representing many segments of the book community. The selection criteria include the candidate’s contribution to young people’s literature and ability to relate to children.
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