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National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Gene Luen Yang Announces the Launch of Nationwide Reading Without Walls Month

January 27, 2017


NEW YORK, NY — January 27, 2017 — The National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Gene Luen Yang, in partnership with the Children’s Book Council (CBC), the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress (CFB), Every Child a Reader, and Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group (MCPG), is pleased to announce the launch of Reading Without Walls Month, which will take place annually starting April 2017.

The Reading Without Walls program asks young people to explore the world through books by breaking down barriers and celebrating diversity in children’s books. Specifically, it challenges readers to do one of the following: Read a book about a character who doesn’t look like them or live like them; read a book about a topic they don’t know much about; and read a book in a format that they don’t normally read for fun, such as a chapter book, an audio book, a graphic novel, or a book in verse.

“Reading is a fantastic way to open your minds and hearts to new people, places, and ideas,” says National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Gene Luen Yang. “Through reading, I’ve met new friends, learned new facts, and become a better person.” Luen Yang is the Printz Award-winning author of American Born Chinese, a two-time National Book Award finalist, and a recipient of the 2016 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship or “Genius Grant.” Yang is the country’s fifth National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and has used his platform to travel the country and challenge readers of all ages to explore books of diverse voices, genres, and formats.

Independent bookstores, national retailers, schools, and libraries throughout the country will celebrate the launch of the program in April, hosting Reading Without Walls events with authors and illustrators. Consistent with Gene Luen Yang’s platform, these events will highlight the diverse genres, formats, and themes within children’s books.

“Gene’s Reading Without Walls program brilliantly challenges readers to expand their world through books. This can be a life-changing experience. We are thrilled to help expand this initiative to schools, stores, and libraries nationwide,” said Jon Yaged, President & Publisher of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group.

“From day one as our National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, the Every Child a Reader staff and our partners at the Library of Congress have been amazed and wowed by Gene Yang’s passion, energy, and constant flow of great ideas. We feel that this challenge will become a mainstay of our national literacy efforts for years to come and that it will change lives. Readers will rejoice!” said Shaina Birkhead, Programming and Strategic Partnerships Director at the Children’s Book Council.

“The Library of Congress is proud to support Gene’s National Ambassador initiative,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. “Books can be windows on other places, experiences, and cultures. The National Ambassador program, through its current ambassador, is encouraging readers to leave their comfort zone to experience worlds unlike their own.”

Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, The Children’s Book Council, Every Child a Reader, and the Library of Congress have put together downloadable materials to support the program, including posters, reading lists, and certificates of completion and encourage schools, libraries, bookstores, and other organizations to issue the challenge to the young people of their communities.

To register, and to learn more about the program and how to participate, visit, and share the news on social media using #ReadingWithoutWalls.

To speak with National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Gene Luen Yang, Carl Lennertz of the Children’s Book Council, or Jon Yaged from Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group about Reading Without Walls, or for any additional information about the program, please contact Gina Gagliano ( or Amanda Mustafic (

About Reading Without Walls

Reading Without Walls is an annual nationwide reading program encouraging students to read books that they wouldn’t normally choose on their own. This means reading a broad variety of titles with different themes, diverse authors and content, formats, settings, characters, and subjects. This program is a challenge from the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Gene Luen Yang. To learn more about the program and how to participate, visit

About National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Gene Luen Yang

Gene Luen Yang began drawing comic books in the fifth grade; he began making comics professionally over fifteen years ago. In 2006, his graphic novel American Born Chinese (Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group/First Second Books) became the first graphic novel to be a finalist for a National Book Award and the first to win the American Library Association’s Printz Award. It also won an Eisner Award for Best Graphic Album. In 2013, Boxers & Saints (Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group/First Second Books), his two-volume graphic novel about the Boxer Rebellion, was a National Book Award finalist and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Young Adult Literature. Gene has also won an Eisner for The Eternal Smile, a collaboration with Derek Kirk Kim. He is the author of the Secret Coders series (with artist Mike Holmes) and has written for the hit comics Avatar: The Last Airbender and Superman. Yang lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Learn more at

 About the Children’s Book Council (CBC)

The Children’s Book Council is the nonprofit trade association for children’s book publishers in North America, offering children’s publishers of all sizes the means to work together on vital issues such as literacy advocacy, diversity in employment and books, and partnerships with other prestigious national organizations.

Contact: Shaina Birkhead, Children’s Book Council

About Every Child a Reader

Every Child a Reader, a 501(c)(3) literacy charity dedicated to inspiring a lifelong love of reading in children and teens across America, coordinates Children’s Book Week, the longest-running literacy initiative in the country. The 98th annual Children’s Book Week will take place from May 1–7, 2017.

About the Center for the Book (CFB) at the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress Center for the Book, which comprises the Young Readers Center as well as the Poetry and Literature Center, promotes books and libraries, literacy and reading, and poetry and literature. Our programs include a diverse range of events, series, lectures, partnerships, prizes, contests and awards.

About Macmillan

Macmillan Publishers is a global trade book publishing company with prominent imprints around the world. Macmillan publishes a broad range of award-winning books for children and adults in all categories and formats. US publishers include Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Flatiron Books, Henry Holt & Company, Macmillan Audio, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, Picador, St. Martin’s Press and Tor Books. In the UK, Australia, India and South Africa, Macmillan publishes under the Pan Macmillan name. The German company, Holtzbrinck Deutsche Buchverlage, includes among its imprints, S. Fischer, Kiepenheuer and Witsch, Rowohlt and Droemer Knaur. Macmillan Publishers is a division of the Holtzbrinck Publishing Group, a large family-owned media company headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany.

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