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Gene Luen Yang

Gene Luen Yang began drawing comic books in the fifth grade. In 2006, his graphic novel, American Born Chinese — a memoir about growing up as an Asian American — became the first graphic novel to win the American Library Association’s Printz Award. He is the author of the Secret Coders series and has written for the hit comics Avatar: The Last Airbender and Superman. In 2016, Yang was named the 5th National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and selected as a MacArthur Fellow. Visit Gene Yang's official website.

The National Ambassador for Young People's Literature raises 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 initiative is sponsored by The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, the Children’s Book Council, and Every Child a Reader.

 

Jason Reynolds: The Beauty of Words Is Magic

March 21, 2017

Gene sits down with award-winning YA author Jason Reynolds. They talk about the unusual story structure in All American Boys, the inspiration for the book, and how writing it emerged from a deep friendship (full of “uncomfortable, healthy conversations”) with his co-author, Brendan Kiely. With his book Ghost, Reynolds wanted to explore the whole concept of “running” — and what it means to run toward, or run away, from something.

Reynolds didn’t read his first book (Richard Wright’s Black Boy) until he was 17 years old. But he soaked up words and their power and beauty through rap lyrics, inspiring him to begin writing poetry. Reynolds also talks about the books and authors he wished he had read as a young teenager. There's lots more to hear in this lively conversation between two writers — listen in!

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"I used to walk to school with my nose buried in a book." — Coolio