Bounded Enthusiasm #15: Gene Luen Yang, Reading Ambassador

Reading Time: 2 minutes
Gene Yang
Gene Luen Yang was recently appointed the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.

It’s been a little while since my last Bounded Enthusiasm episode–it turns out that doing a weekly Stack Overflow column means that I’m less likely to do a regular podcast. Still, that just makes each episode more special, right? (Just nod and smile.)

For this episode, I interviewed Gene Luen Yang, one of my favorite graphic novelists. I’ve reviewed several of his comics here on GeekDad in the past: Level Up, Boxers & Saints, Prime BabySecret Coders, and The Shadow Hero. He writes and illustrates comics, and has also written books illustrated by other artists. He’s currently writing Superman for DC Comics and Avatar: The Last Airbender for Dark Horse Comics.

Last week, Yang was appointed the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, a position sponsored by the Children’s Book Council, Every Child a Reader, and the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. Its goal is to raise awareness of the importance of literature for kids, encouraging a lifelong love of reading.

I spoke with Yang after his inauguration ceremony on Thursday about what it means to be an ambassador and about his particular platform, “Reading Without Walls.” His hope is to encourage kids to read something outside of their usual fare, whether that’s in subject matter or format. Only read fiction? Try some non-fiction! Only read graphic novels? Try a prose novel! Yang provides a few of his favorite titles for kids who may be hesitant to move outside their comfort zones.

You can download the MP3 of the episode or listen to it in the embedded player below.

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During the podcast, Yang mentioned several books. Here are a few comics he’d recommend for kids who haven’t tried comics before:

And some comics for the younger set:

For kids who have been reading comics but not a lot of prose, there are a few hybrid novels that combine comics and prose:

And then a couple of prose-only novels:

And, finally, some non-fiction that Yang’s own son enjoys:

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