Gene Luen Yang: Diverse Books Break Down Barriers

In his current term as National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, American Born Chinese and Boxers/Saints creator Gene Luen Yang has chosen a theme of “Reading Without Walls.” During his two-year ambassadorship, Yang is encouraging readers at the schools and libraries he visits to read books by and about people whose experience is different from their own–whether the difference be race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or something else. In a comic published online this week in the New York Times Book Review, Yang recalled an experience from his own childhood that helped him begin to understand the importance of diverse representations for promoting understanding across superficial barriers.


Source: New York Times Book Review (

Yang’s “Reading Without Walls” theme also ties in nicely with this year’s Banned Books Week, which is centered on diversity! The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom estimates that over half of all banned and challenged books are by authors of color or contain events and issues concerning diverse communities.

The annual celebration of the freedom to read will run from September 25 – October 1, 2016. To prepare, look for CBLDF’s latest edition of the Banned Books Week Handbook, in stores and online September 14. The handbook will provide information on which diverse comics are banned, how to report and fight censorship, and how to make a celebration of Banned Books Week in your community! We also have resources online, including posters, shelf talkers, and more. We will be adding more resources in the coming weeks — check them out here!

Help support CBLDF’s important First Amendment work in 2016 by visiting the Rewards Zonemaking a donation, or becoming a member of CBLDF!

Contributing Editor Maren Williams is a reference librarian who enjoys free speech and rescue dogs.