Fusion Stories: 10 books for young readers for APAH Month

Saturday, May 10, 2008

From L to R: Cherry Cheva, David Yoo, Paula Yoo, Mitali Perkins, Grace Lin

This is pretty cool on just a lot of levels, and if you have kids, know kids, or just want to be in the loop about what's out there for young Asian American kids to read, you definitely need to check out the site Fusion Stories.

The project and site is a group of ten Asian American YA (young adult) authors who have joined together to promote awareness of Asian American young adult literature. The authors include Paula Yoo, David Yoo, Justina Chen Headley, Mitali Perkins, An Na, Joyce Lee Wong, Grace Lin, Lisa Yee, Janet Wong, and Cherry Cheva.

Here's a little more from their site about the project:

Ten new contemporary novels by Asian Americans aren’t traditional tales set in Asia nor stories about coming to America for the first time. They’re written by authors who understand two-time Newbery Honor Book author Lawrence Yep’s (Dragonwings and Dragon’s Gate) removal of the ethnic qualifier before his vocation. “I think of myself principally as a writer,” Yep told the International Reading Association’s The Dragon Lode. “I often write about my experiences as a Chinese American, but I’ve also written about faraway worlds. Writing is a special way of seeing.”

Without a doubt, an Asian American vision has moved into the mainstream of the children’s literary world. In 1994, only 65 of the 5,500 children’s books published featured Asian American authors. Last year, that number doubled. Some of these have become national bestsellers that are guaranteed a place on bookshelves for years to come. Linda Sue Park (A Single Shard) and Cynthia Kadohata (Kira Kira) each won the prestigious Newbery Medal, while Allen Say (Grandfather’s Journey) took home a Caldecott Prize. An Na (A Step From Heaven) won the Printz, an award for young adult novels, and Gene Luen Yang garnered a National Book Award for his graphic novel, American Born Chinese.
There's also a good interview with author and Printz Award winner An Na from the School Library Journal:

Tell me about Fusion Stories and how it relates to Asian Pacific Heritage Month.

Fusion Stories was the brainchild of a bunch of APA (Asian Pacific American) writers like Paula Yoo, Grace Lee, Mitali Perkins, Joyce Lee Wong, and many others. They invited me to join, and I was honored to accept. Fusion Stories serves as a helpful resource for parents, educators, and young readers. The Web site is a way for us to connect with a wider audience and raise awareness about Asian American History Month. Sadly, very little is done in schools to talk about the history of Asian Americans in the United States. And now, more than ever, APA writers and their stories are getting published!! It's really something to say that I belong in such a fabulous group.

You have said that as a child, books were your "cultural teachers." Do you think your books are "cultural teachers" to your non-Asian readers?

My stories give a glimpse of what it might be like to be immigrants, and specifically a Korean immigrant. I don't know that they are teachers, but rather, they might offer a sense that we all struggle with identity, acceptance, and love. That struggle takes on a different shade than say a non-Asian experience, but the emotions and issues probably remain true across colors and economics. It's always a journey to find your voice. I am just offering one perspective. I would hope that non-Asian readers would want to pick up other books from other cultures just for the adventure of being immersed in an unfamiliar world.
Read the full interview here, and then check out the Fusion Stories website at http://www.fusionstories.com/.