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 Baby, Secret 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.
Your browser does not support the audio element.
During the podcast, Yang mentioned several books. Here are a few comics he’d recommend for kids who haven’t tried comics before:
- Space Dumplins by Craig Thompson
- Smile, Drama, and Sisters by Raina Telgemeier
- El Deafo by Cece Bell
- Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatkins
- Meanwhile by Jason Shiga
- Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi
And some comics for the younger set:
- Long-Tail Kitty by Lark Pien
- Luke on the Loose by Harry Bliss
- The Shark King by R. Kikuo Johnson
- anything else by Toon Books
For kids who have been reading comics but not a lot of prose, there are a few hybrid novels that combine comics and prose:
- Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
- The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
- Chasing Shadows by Swati Avasthi & Craig Phillips
And then a couple of prose-only novels:
- Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle
- Bone Gap by Laura Ruby (for young adults)
- Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate
And, finally, some non-fiction that Yang’s own son enjoys: