A youth’s entry to exploring and learning Asian American histories

"AN ASIAN AMERICAN A TO Z: A CHILDREN’S GUIDE TO OUR HISTORY" book cover

AN ASIAN AMERICAN A TO Z: A CHILDREN’S GUIDE TO OUR HISTORY

By Cathy Linh Che and Kyle Lucia Wu; Illustrated by Kavita Ramchandran (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2023, 40 pp., $18.95, hardcover)


“An Asian American A to Z: A Children’s Guide to Our History” shares many critical issues in Asian American history. It includes dozens of Asian groups, backgrounds and varied experiences. We’re not all alike.

Children should be able to relate to many of the interesting and diverse topics. The invaluable glossary provides background for understanding. Both children and adults can benefit from reading this informative book.

The book is well illustrated. I like the pictures. They’re lively, engaging and enlightening.

I obviously recommend this book. It shares important information in an interesting way. It would be a nice holiday present for adults and teenagers.

This book includes an intriguing page for each of the 26 letters of the alphabet. Here are a few samples:

“‘B’ is for beginning. When did you start? From where did you or your family depart? …” Ask your parents.

“‘D’ is for demand, to speak out, to shout, to show up for others, to bring change about…”

“‘E’ is for exclusion, to deny entry, shut out. The Chinese were the first to be locked out. They were banned from the U.S. for 80-plus years, for no reason besides our country’s fear…”

“‘H’ is for hotel. I-Hotel is where seniors lived (in San Francisco’s Chinatown) until rich villains went in to evict! … So protestors stood, linked hand-in-hand. They were kicked out, yet continued to stand.”

“‘J’ is for Japanese American incarceration. During World War II, in this very nation, 120,000 were placed in incarceration camps in a blink. Most were U.S. citizens.” Don’t we all deserve to be free?

“‘L’ is for labor,” which first brought many here for little pay, food, or housing. “In California, bosses refused to pay workers decent wages for picking grapes.” Until Larry (Itliong), Cesar (Chavez), and Dolores (Huerta) joined hands, “Filipinos and Mexicans became part of one band.” 

“‘Q’ is for questions you may be asked, about where you or your parents are “really” from. You don’t have to answer. 

“‘V” is for Vincent Chin. He was 27 when two white men attacked him because he was Chinese. “His death sparked outrage, protest, and sorrow.” Asian Americans gathered for a better tomorrow.  

“‘X’ is for expansive, which means always growing.”  We never know “how the future will shape our family tree.” We continue to welcome new Asian Americans to the U.S.  

“‘Z’ is for zoom.  Up, up, and away!” “There’s power in knowing Asian American history, who came before us, who helped us get free.” When our history is left out of schools, it’s crucial to learn our rich legacy.

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