WOW Dozen: Children’s Books for Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage

By Stephanie E. Mahar, Washington State University

Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month occurs every May. The U.S. Congress officially acknowledged the history and contributions of Asian American communities in the United States in 1977. Representative Frank Horton of New York and Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii spearheaded the commemoration to be observed for the first ten days of May. The celebration was initially marked for one week but was later extended to a full month-long tribute, starting in May 1990. May also commemorates the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants to the United States in 1843. Additionally, May marks the transcontinental railroad’s completion on May 10, 1869, which Chinese immigrants primarily built. This WOW dozen contains an assortment of 12 picturebooks and middle grade books to honor and celebrate the cultures of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander people. Continue reading

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MTYT: Amal Unbound

By Seemi Aziz, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ and Celeste Trimble, St. Martin’s University, Lacey, WA

In Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed, Amal is an outspoken Pakistani teen who is confident in who she is. She lives in a small village in Punjab (the largest province in Pakistan comprising 62% of Pakistan) and is educated there. She wants to be a teacher and loves reading. She lives there with her father, mother and many younger sisters. Her mother is pregnant again and afraid that she will bear another girl. Amal happens to come in front of the car of the son of village elder and powerful local landlord, Jawad. She confronts the rude person and as a result the landlord calls in Amal’s family debts. Amal ends up in the landlord’s home as a payback. She befriends other servants as well as Jawad’s mother. She has it easy as she is only person serving the mother and not doing any menial labor. In her time there, she discovers criminal actions by the landlord and reports it. She ends up connecting with Asif (a U.S. educated teacher) in the village’s literacy center, funded, ironically, by the Khan family. This is where she learns that the significant family she works for is not invincible. Indentured servitude, class, gender and literacy are some of the themes this novel explores.

Bibliographic information for Amal Unbound, that is also listed at bottom of post Continue reading