The Hmong Journey Raising The Immigrant Voice In Children’s Literature
By Fue Yang
Dr. Brian V. Xiong created the Hmong Education Resources (HER) Publisher for the Hmong community in 2018 that provides services for Hmong students, writers, educators, researchers, and graphic artists. His passion in life is teaching and raising a good younger Hmong American generation to help change the Hmong community through education. Since then HER Publisher became a platform for many Hmong students and teachers to translate their stories from the visionary to a physical book.
Ger Thao, a Ph.D. Hmong student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, is one of the authors who has published books with Xiong’s Publisher. Thao wrote a bilingual children’s picture book that shares her family’s story and the historical/cultural context of the Hmong with the community. Thao believes that while it’s essential to provide young readers with multiple opportunities to see themselves in what they read and to experience others’ experiences, it’s also imperative that educators teach young readers to approach what they read through a critical lens.
At HER Publisher, not only Dr. Xiong and his team advocate for Hmong authors, illustrators and students, they also believe in the transformative power of literature towards social justice in education. Author such as Thao, exemplifies this goal at her recent workshop presentation of “Leaders of Social Justice in Education: Theory to Practice,” at the 43rd Annual Pacific Circle Consortium: “As a Hmong immigrant, I share my personal experience of teaching first grade and realizing how little my students know about the Hmong culture. Realizing the paucity of literature by Hmong authors and representing the Hmong culture, I created a bilingual children’s picture book that traces my family’s journey from Laos/Thailand to the United States. I shared the cultural curriculum created around the book, which suggests ways to utilize The Hmong Journey in the classroom and applying the critical multicultural analysis to help children shape and ask questions of the curriculum, as well as help them read themselves into the curriculum,” said Thao.
“A positive role model serves as an example that inspiring Hmong children in the education world. And Ger Thao is one of our great Hmong scholars, authors, and role models for the students. We’re very pleased to publish her book and wanted to thank her for sharing her gift of teaching with the students and helping us change the Hmong community through education,” said Dr. Xiong.