I Am an American: The Wong Kim Ark Story
I Am an American: The Wong Kim Ark Story
Perma-Bound from Publisher's Hardcover22.15
Publisher's Hardcover16.44

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Annotation: He challenged the Supreme Court on his right to be called citizen—and won   When American-born Wong Kim Ark returns home... more
Catalog Number: #306307
Format: Perma-Bound from Publisher's Hardcover
Copyright Date: 2021
Edition Date: 2021
Pages: 40
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-316-42692-X Perma-Bound: 0-8000-0651-8
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-316-42692-3 Perma-Bound: 978-0-8000-0651-8
Dewey: 921
Language: English
Kirkus Reviews
The history of Chinese American plaintiff Wong Kim Ark and the landmark 1898 Supreme Court decision that held that all people born on U.S. soil are citizens of the United States.This biography of Wong Kim Ark doubles as a primer on Chinese American and American-immigrant history of the late 19th century. Born in San Francisco to immigrant parents from China, Wong believed in his heart, “I am an American” (as the book’s titular refrain proudly repeats). Plain, short sentences teach readers about immigrant life, racism, and Wong’s personal story. The question of Wong’s citizenship comes to a head when he travels to China to visit and is detained upon his return, despite his bearing a document signed by three White witnesses swearing that he was born in California. Eventually his case “went all the way to the highest court in the land” to decide: “What makes someone American?” Of course, Wong won, and “his victory changed the nation.” Told in simple, spare language, the book is an introduction for very young children to this angle of America’s racist past. The result is a narrative and discourse with gaps, and curious older readers will have questions. The four pages of backmatter may help, including more details of Wong’s life, the court case, American citizenship, and a timeline that combines Wong’s significant dates and general Chinese American history. (This book was reviewed digitally.)An important and complex period in American history geared to young readers. (Informational picture book. 4-8)
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4 Wong Kim Ark was born in San Francisco in 1873 and knew he was an American. He had never lived anywhere else. Then the Chinese Exclusion Act passed in 1882, hindering immigration, job opportunities, and eventual citizenship for Chinese people in the United States. Violence toward Chinese people became even more commonplace, and Ark's parents went back to China. After visiting his family in China, Ark was detained from entering the country, despite being born in America. He won the lawsuit in San Francisco to be freed, but this did not apply to the U.S. government, so he brought the case to the Supreme Court. His victory guaranteed citizenship to all of those born in the U.S. This detailed picture book biography introduces readers to a historical figure who changed birthright citizenship laws. The digitally rendered artwork fills each spread, and its detailed imagery gives insight into life in San Francisco's Chinatown in the late 1880s and early 1900s. Endpapers include an 1885 neighborhood map of Chinatown, outlining Chinese-occupied, white-occupied, and vacant areas, to give a clearer picture of the city's population. Back matter features photos and a time line starting with 1849, when the first large group of Chinese immigrants began to settle in the U.S., to the 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act. VERDICT An important picture book biography to augment classroom conversations about immigration and citizenship. Kristyn Dorfman, Friends Academy, Locust Valley, NY
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Kirkus Reviews
Reading Level: 2.0
Interest Level: K-3
Guided Reading Level: U
Fountas & Pinnell: U

He challenged the Supreme Court on his right to be called citizen—and won
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.

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