Bestselling comics creator and former National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese, Dragon Hoops, Shang-Chi) is joined by educator Alexis Huddleston and parent Stephani Bercu for a conversation about the censorship of young people’s literature in Leander, Texas, and beyond! Early this year, the school district in Leander undertook a review of its book club reading lists after a parent complained about one of the titles during a school board meeting. The review led to the removal of more than a dozen acclaimed and award-winning novels and graphic novels, most of them by people of color or featuring diverse characters. Huddleston and Bercu will speak about their experience defending the reading lists, while Yang — who has two titles, Dragon Hoops and American Born Chinese, on the list — will offer a creator’s perspective on censorship. Moderated by Nora Pelizzari (National Coalition Against Censorship) and Betsy Gomez (Banned Books Week Coalition).
Gene Luen Yang writes, and sometimes draws, comic books and graphic novels. As the Library of Congress’ fifth National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, he advocates for the importance of reading, especially reading diversely. American Born Chinese, his first graphic novel from First Second Books, was a National Book Award finalist, as well as the winner of the Printz Award and an Eisner Award. His two-volume graphic novel Boxers & Saints won the L.A. Times Book Prize and was a National Book Award Finalist. His other works include Secret Coders (with Mike Holmes), The Shadow Hero (with Sonny Liew), New Super-Man and Superman from DC Comics (with various artists), Superman Smashes the Klan from DC Comics (with Gurihiru), the Avatar: The Last Airbender series from Dark Horse Comics (with Gurihiru), and Dragon Hoops. He is currently writing Shang-Chi for Marvel Comics.
In 2016, Yang was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow, and the Library of Congress, Every Child A Reader, and the Children’s Book Council appointed him the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. For more, visit www.geneyang.com
We were delighted to host three amazing virtual events this week, with free expression superstars Gene Luen Yang, Cody Miller, Jung Kim, Portugal The Man, Alex Gino, and Peter Coyl! In case you missed it, we have the details and videos below.
Grammy Award-winning musicians and free expression heroes Zach Carothers and Eric Howk of Portugal The Man joined Banned Books Week and the National Coalition Against Censorship to discuss the protest when the Matanuska-Susitna (Mat-Su) Borough School Board, which oversees schools in the band’s hometown of Wasilla, Alaska, voted to remove five classic novels from the 11th grade reading list. Through their charitable non-profit, PTM Foundation, Portugal The Man helped provide thousands of copies of the banned books to students in the district.
Acclaimed and award-winning author Alex Gino joined Banned Books Week, ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, and Peter Coyl (Director, Montclair Public Library) for a discussion about the censorship of Gino’s award-winning middle grade novel George, which led ALA OIF’s Top 10 Most Challenged Books lists for 2019 and 2018. We also discussed the importance of access to information for young readers and representation on the shelf.
Join the Banned Books Week Coalition and the National Council of Teachers of English at 5:00 p.m. CDT on September 28 for a special Banned Books Week Facebook Live event with author Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese, Boxers & Saints, Dragon Hoops)!
During this hourlong event, Yang will converse with NCTE member leaders Henry “Cody” Miller and Jung Kim, as well as moderators Lisa Fink (NCTE) and Karen Evans (Education Coordinator, CBLDF) about the censorship of his work, examine the importance of diverse literature, and discuss the use of comics in classrooms. You’ll have a chance to ask your questions during a short Q&A. (We will try to get to as many of your questions as we can!)
Gene Luen Yang writes, and sometimes draws, comic books and graphic novels. As the Library of Congress’ fifth National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, he advocated for the importance of reading, especially reading diversely. American Born Chinese, his first graphic novel from First Second Books, was a National Book Award finalist, as well as the winner of the Printz Award and an Eisner Award. His two-volume graphic novel Boxers & Saints won the L.A. Times Book Prize and was also a National Book Award Finalist. His other works include Secret Coders (with Mike Holmes), The Shadow Hero (with Sonny Liew), New Super-Man (with various artists), Superman Smashes the Klan (with Gurihiru), the Avatar: The Last Airbender series (with Gurihiru), and Dragon Hoops. In 2016, Yang was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow.
Henry “Cody” Miller is an assistant professor of English education at SUNY Brockport. He is a former high school English teacher. Cody currently acts as the chair of the National Council of Teachers of English LGBTQ advisory board.
About Jung Kim
Jung Kim, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Literacy, mother, ultrarunner, 1.5 generation Korean American, and #AsAmAF. A former high school English teacher and literacy coach, she writes about Asian American teachers, graphic novels, and equity. Her second co-authored book on teaching with graphic novels, Using Graphic Novels in the English Language Arts Classroom, is out from Bloomsbury Press on October 1.
The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) supports teachers and their students in classrooms, on college campuses, and in online learning environments. For more than 100 years, NCTE has worked with its members to offer journals, publications, and resources; to further the voice and expertise of educators as advocates for their students at the local and federal levels; and to share lesson ideas, research, and teaching strategies through its Annual Convention and other professional learning events.
The Banned Books Week Coalition is an international alliance of diverse organizations joined by a commitment to increase awareness of the annual celebration of the freedom to read. The Coalition seeks to engage various communities and inspire participation in Banned Books Week through education, advocacy, and the creation of programming about the problem of book censorship.
Banned Books Week is the annual celebration of the freedom to read. The event is sponsored by a coalition of organizations dedicated to free expression, including American Booksellers Association; American Library Association; American Society of Journalists and Authors; Association of University Presses; Authors Guild; Comic Book Legal Defense Fund; Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE); Freedom to Read Foundation; Index on Censorship; National Coalition Against Censorship; National Council of Teachers of English; PEN America; People For the American Way Foundation; and Project Censored. It is endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. Banned Books Week also receives generous support from DKT Liberty Project and Penguin Random House.