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Take the Reading Without Walls Challenge


Gene Luen Yang, who is currently serving a two-year term as the fifth National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, created the Reading Without Walls Challenge to encourage people of all ages to read books outside their comfort zones. The challenge is simple. Yang wants readers to seek diversity through books in three ways: diversity of characters, diversity of topics, and diversity of book formats.

These are the guidelines. First, readers should choose books with characters who do not look or live like they do. Second, readers should choose books about topics they know little about. And third, readers should choose books in unfamiliar formats, so readers of chapter books, for instance, might read a graphic novel instead. A book may cover one, two, or all three of these objectives.

Reading Without Walls comes at a time when walls, both physical and invisible, threaten to divide people along geographic, socioeconomic, and political lines. These divisions are fostering distrust, misunderstanding, and an overall lack of empathy. As Yang explained in the March/April 2017 issue of Poets & Writers, “Right now it seems like—not just in America, but around the world—we need a little more empathy.” And studies show that reading builds empathy. Reading demolishes walls, opens worlds, and builds empathy one book at a time.

The Reading Without Walls Challenge can help make summer education programs successful. The Children’s Book Council has free downloads, including a Certificate of Excellence, to encourage young readers. And don’t forget to share pictures of your Reading Without Walls books on Twitter using the hashtag #ReadingWithoutWalls. We at ProQuest would love to see your Reading Without Walls photos as well. Tweet us @ProQuest.

Here are a few of my Reading Without Walls books:


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