Genre: Historical Fiction Guided Reading Level: PreK-2
Coolies is a concentrated retelling of the steadfast work ethics of the Chinese laborers building the Transcontinental Railroad despite extreme discrimination. The story begins with Paw Paw explaining to her grandson why they celebrate the Ching Ming Festival; Grandmother says it is a day to honor Chinese ancestors. She, then, recounts how Great, Great Grandfather, Shek left famine-ridden China to find opportunities of work in America with the Central Pacific Railroad Company.
I highly recommend this book when talking about the Transcontinental Railroad. It could also be used to honor the Chinese during the Chinese New Year in January or in April around the Ching Ming Festival which is Biblical. I shared a verse below from the Bible that prods us to “do good” or honor others when we are able.
“When it is in your power, don’t withhold good from the one it belongs to.”
Awards: Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature 2001-2016, Illustrator Honor 2003