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I Am an American

The Wong Kim Ark Story



Little, Brown and Company

(pub.11.23.2021) 40 pages

Authors: Martha Brockenbrough

with Grace Lin

Illustrator: Julia Kuo

Characters: Wong Kim Ark


" When American-born Wong Kim Ark returns home to San Francisco after a visit to China, he’s stopped and told he cannot enter: he isn’t American. What happens next would forever change the national conversation on who is and isn’t American. After being imprisoned on a ship for months, Wong Kim Ark takes his case to the Supreme Court and argues any person born in America is an American citizen.

I am an American: The Wong Kim Ark Story is an important picture book that introduces young readers to the young man who challenged the Supreme Court for his right to be an American citizen and won, confirming birthright citizenship for all Americans."

Tantalizing taste:

" Long ago, a boy was born in an apartment

above a shop in San Francisco.

His name was Wong Kim Ark - and

he believed something that would change

this country.

I am an American.

...When Kim Ark was growing up, hard financial

times hit. Many people blamed the Chinese.

They said people of Chinese heritage could never

be American.

Kim Ark knew this was not true.

I am an American."

And something more: More About the Story at the back of the book explains that "Even after Wong Kim Ark won his Supreme Court case, he and other people of Chinese ancestry continued to experience unfair treatment.

He always had to carry a certificate of identity with him to prove he was American."

I appreciate that the Back Matter not only includes an explanation of The Fourteenth Amendment, but also a discussion of who argued against and for Wong Kim Ark, in particular "Thomas Riordan [who] defended the rights of people of Chinese ancestry in San Francisco and challenged other racist laws in court. He fought two other cases all the way to the Supreme Court."


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