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From The Asian Reporter, V33, #5 (May 1, 2023), pages 12 & 13.

Children & adults will learn something new in The ABCs of Asian American History

The ABCs of Asian American History

By Renee Macalino Rutledge

Illustrations by Lauren Akazawa Mendez

Bloom Books for Young Readers, 2023

Hardcover, 48 pages, $14.95

By Jody Lim

The Asian Reporter

Children age five and older — and adults, too — have a new book to learn about the many accomplishments of Asian Americans, as well as interesting facts, holidays, cuisine, and more.

Published just last month, The ABCs of Asian American History is not only a great book for learning words, phrases, and facts — such as "tashi delek," which is said during Losar, the Tibetan New Year, to wish luck and good cheer, or bola bekel, a game which is similar to jacks but with shells to pick up — it also introduces readers to Asian American inventors, artists, athletes, and so much more.

There’s Eugene Trinh, who was the first Vietnamese American to travel to space, and Sal Khan, who founded the Khan Academy to help children learn on a website that’s free. There is also Jacqueline Nguyen, "once a refugee in a military fort," but now a judge "on the federal court," as well as 8-year-old Mamie Tape, who with her parents in 1885 filed a lawsuit to fight against anti-Chinese sentiment — and won.

There are far too many awesome Asian Americans highlighted in the book to list all of them here. Readers will need to find a copy of the book to peruse them all.

The many words presented in the order of the alphabet to describe Asian people, items, and efforts — Activists, Daring, Forward-thinking, Heroes, Noble, Pioneer, Sacrifice — are inspiring and amazing.

A is for Activists,

who fight to end wrongs

Helping farm workers strike

there was Larry Itliong

For H is for Heroes

doing acts big and small

Some get all the limelight,

others hardly any at all

The ABCs of Asian American History also informs of traditions, instruments, and holidays:

Kimono — A thousand-year-old traditional Japanese garment

Kse diev — A Cambodian musical instrument with a gourd and one string to strum

Tihar — A five-day-long exuberant festival filled with worship and song

Yi Peng — A floating lantern festival celebrated in Thailand by thousands of people

I also thoroughly enjoyed reading the glossary at the end of the book, which is full of names and items with descriptions:

Awkwafina: Nora Lum, known as "Awkwafina," is a Chinese and Korean American rapper and Golden Globe-winning actress.

Fitbit: Korean American entrepreneur James Park co-founded and is the CEO of this fitness technology company.

H.E.R.: Gabriella Wilson, known as "H.E.R.," is a Filipina and Black American R&B artist whose music has won a Grammy and an Academy Award.

Mountain Brothers: The first Asian American rap group to sign with a major label (1996).

Thingyan: This water festival of Myanmar celebrates the new year.

Yuri Kochiyama: Yuri was a Japanese American civil rights activist dedicated to social change.

There is so much to be learned within The ABCs of Asian American History. I’ve already read it to my five-year-old nephew; it’s a book we’ll return to over and over again.

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