This review of The ABCs of Asian American History discusses Renee Macalino Rudledge children book illustrated by Lauren Akazawa Mendez.
Being raised in Europe, I always loved about our Nation that everyone is a minority and belongs to a majority at the same time, and that it is ok to be different. America’s strength is it’s diversity, and the different views and ideas we bring to the table.
Reading the book cover-to-cover, I learned a lot about our Nation and its people of Asian heritage. Therefore, I strongly recommend it as a summer read for your kids, grandkids, and yourself.
Disclosure: Ad. The book is a sample of my choice from Ulysses Press. The post is not endorsed by them. I wrote it entirely myself and it represents my own 100% honest opinion.
The book successfully creates awareness of Asian American History, and well accomplishes to educate about the role of Asian American in our history and today’s society.
The author, Renee Macalino Rudledge, covers a variety of Asian Americans, who were firsts in all kinds of fields, or who influenced American history. Using fun rhyming stanzas, she educates the reader where they came from, their contribution or achievement, and what it meant for American history. Because of the rhyming the book is also suitable for reading to kids.
Lauren Akazawa Mendez‘s illustrations either picture the person so the reader can recognize them when they see a photo of them. By doing so she also elucidates the diversity of Asian American. In case of events, she features key elements of the respective festival. Her paintings not only look nice, but enhance the book with additional information.
Unfortunately, the copyright laws prohibit to show the illustrations, parts of them or copy the text or book cover. However, you can get a first impression from looking inside.
Rutledge and Mendez associate each letter of the alphabet with actions, events, or things that start with the letter. Based on these keywords, Asian American are introduced associated with these keywords. Events covered include various Asian festivals like Diwali, how and where they are celebrated. Actions covered range from personal achievements in sports, music, art, film, science to making America a better place for all American by pushing for equality, building the transcontinental railroad or founding companies.
Furthermore, the book addresses games, food, believes, zodiac, sports that we take for granted today without even thinking about their origin. This includes also clothes like sari, sarong, and thousand years of kimono as well as fashion designers like Vera Wang.
Of course, there is much more to Asian American history than can be covered on 52 pages plus glossary. But the books succeeds in giving a balanced view of the variety of Asian American culture, in a child-appropriate way. For instance, the authors mention Kalpana Chawla as the first Indian American in space, but omit her fate in the Columbia disaster.
Despite I knew a lot about Asian festivals, Chinese Zodiac, fashion, sports, food, the role of Asian American in the Gold Rush times, or WWII, I wasn’t aware of many other topics addressed. After reading the book, I now better understand the role of Filipinos in Alaska – called Alaskeros – who have been there for more than 200 years.
This illustrated book is very entertaining and fun for kids. However, it is an eye-opener for an adult reading the book. Therefore, I recommend not only to buy it to entertain your kids, or grandkids with this book on rainy days in summer, but also to read it yourself.
Did you know that YouTube, Kickstarter, and LinkedIn, for instance, have Asian American (co-)founders?
Manila Philippines born Renee Macalino Rutledge came to California at age of four. As an author, she specializes in writing about multi-cultural themes in various genres. Her literary fiction novel entitled “The Hour of Daydreams” won an Institute for Immigration Research New American Voices Finalist award. She lives in the San Fransisco Bay area with her husband and two daughters. Learn more about her.
Fourth generation Japanese American Lauren Akazawa Mendez is a children’s book illustrator and graphic designer born in Southern California. She earned her bachelor’s degree from UCLA. Today, she lives in Washington State with her husband and son. Learn more about her.
Photos: N. Mölders
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