ST. PAUL (Aug. 24, 2012) — The Minnesota Humanities Center and the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans are pleased to announce the selection of writers May Lee Yang and Ka Vang and illustrators Anne Sawyer-Aitch and Aimee Hagerty Johnson for the 2012 Reading Together Project.
These authors and illustrators will collaborate to create two culturally relevant children’s books, geared toward the third grade reading level, as part of the Reading Together Project. The books will be printed and distributed to educators, teachers, students, parents, and community members in late 2012. This is the first Reading Together Project collaboration between the Humanities Center and the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans.
“We are very excited about this project, and the selection of these authors and illustrators,” said Ilean Her, Executive Director of the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans. “Each of these authors and illustrators will bring valuable, personal experiences to these books, and we look forward to their contributions to this project.”
Her continued, “Asian Pacific Islander Americans do not conform to one particular group or identity. Rather, we are a convergence of many ethnic and affinity groups working together to accomplish shared goals and objectives. The Reading Together Project reflects frequently untold, individual experiences, and brings those experiences to light. We are pleased to be collaborating with the Humanities Center on this project, bringing important literary resources to educators, young readers, and the community at large.”
The Reading Together Project seeks to address the lack of children’s books that speak to the experience of being an Asian Pacific Islander (API) child or youth in the Unities States. The project supports development of English literacy skills while recognizing cultural heritage, and creating opportunities for children and families to learn together about API cultural heritage.
The project will disseminate resources focused on closing the achievement gap for API students by offering culturally relevant resources.
A selection committee comprised of project staff and community members reviewed all of the submissions. Selected writers and illustrators will each receive a $1,000 stipend upon completion of the project. Terms will be laid out in a contract with the Minnesota Humanities Center.
May Lee-Yang is a playwright, poet, prose writer, and performance artist. Her theater-based works have been produced and/or commissioned by Mu Performing Arts, Out North Theater, the Center for Hmong Arts and Talent, Out North Theater, and the National Performance Network. She has received grants from the Bush Leadership Fellowship, the MN State Arts Board, the Playwright Center, and others. She often teaches creative writing to youth through COMPAS and other residency programs.
Ka Vang is a Hmong-American writer and travel aficionado. Her short stories and essays have been featured in six anthologies including the Minnesota best-seller, “Riding Shotgun: Women Write about their Mothers,” published by Borealis Press, and “Haunted Hearths and Sapphic Shades: Lesbian Ghost Stories” published by Lethe Press, which was a national best-seller in the United Kingdom, and the ground-breaking Asian American anthology, “Charlie Chan Is Dead 2: At Home In The World,” published by Penguin Books. In 2009, Ka Vang was featured in the book, “Hmong History Makers,” published by Houghton Mifflin for her work collecting and preserving Hmong folklore from the Hmong people throughout the world. Her work is taught in classrooms and has appeared nationally in magazines and newspapers
Anne Sawyer-Aitch is a MSAB Roster Artist. She specializes in puppetry, working with Heart of the Beast and the Hennepin County Libraries. She wrote and illustrated the children’s book, Nalah and the Pink Tiger (Scarletta Press, Mar, ‘12). She’s now touring the puppet version of Nalah around MN. Anne has received awards from the Jim Henson Foundation, MRAC and Puppeteers of America. She collaborated with May on Confessions of A Lazy Hmong Woman, creating color shadow puppets for the 2012 show.
Aimee Hagerty Johnson specializes in children’s illustration and editorial artwork, using acrylic paint, watercolor, collage, and digital tools to create her whimsical and unique illustrations for kids and adults. A member of the Society of Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators, Ms. Johnson earned a BFA in Illustration from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Her vibrant, energetic illustrations for children and grown-ups can be seen in publications worldwide and atwww.aimeehagertyjohnson.com.