This children’s book puts spotlight on Fil-Am labor hero Philip Vera Cruz
Superheroes and mythical creatures played a huge role in our childhood. At some point, they even became our role models and sources of inspiration. What about the heroes who walked among us though? As a kid, how often did we come across stories that shine a light on them?
I’d say not as often as we should have, but the children’s book series “Leaders Like Us” hopes to change that. Written by educator Karen Su, each story in this series aims to empower young readers (Asian Americans in particular) by introducing them to individuals who have made significant contributions to their respective communities.
One of which is Philip Vera Cruz, a Filipino-American labor leader and the face of the United Farm Workers union.
The transformative journey of Philip Vera Cruz
His story is brought to life in one of the installments of the series, focusing on how he went from a young immigrant searching for education to a prominent figure in the fight for labor rights.
The book highlights his struggles, leadership, and the pivotal role he played in the historic Delano strike, where Filipino farm workers stood against unfair treatment and poor working conditions. It also delves into how Vera Cruz helped organize a grape boycott, ultimately leading to the formation of the United Farm Workers union.
In addition to its easy-to-digest narrative, this 24-page children’s book also has interactive features to encourage deeper comprehension and critical thinking skills among its readers. It includes illustrations by Arlo Li, a timeline of events for easier retention, and post-reading questions to spark discussions.
The book also has an interactive activity that prompts its readers to reflect on the story and connect it to their own experiences.
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Besides Vera Cruz, another installment of Su’s “Leaders Like Us” series focuses on Grace Lee Boggs, a Chinese-American woman who became an activist in the black power movement in Detroit.
Two more titles are dropping this fall, featuring Dalip Singh Saud (the first Asian American member elected to Congress) and Yuri Kochiyama (a Japanese-American political activist whose family was incarcerated during World War II).
With these stories, Su is on a mission to diversify children’s literature by bringing more Asian American experiences to the forefront. She believes that representation matters and wants young Asian American readers to feel seen and believe in their own potential to effect change.