Many times using a fictional book based on historical fact is easier to teach an important lesson about the past. Angel Island, located in San Francisco Bay, will be marking its 100th year on Saturday, July 31, 2010.
Like Ellis Island on the east coast, Angel Island was a stopping point for immigrants wishing to enter the United States through California. Most of those immigrants were from China. To read a short bio on Angel Island, click over to the SF Historic Places Examiner page.
Here are some books that take a look at situations on Angel Island from a fictional standpoint. Many of these authors have based these stories on a relative’s or a friend’s experiences while on Angel Island. Also included in this list are a few non-fiction books on the subject geared towards younger readers.
- Kai’s Journey To Gold Mountain: An Angel Island Story by Katrina Saltonstall Currier and Gabhor Utomo Shows the rigorous interrogation immigrants had to go through to be allowed into the States from a young boy’s point of view.
- The Dragon’s Child: A Story of Angel Island by Laurence Yep and Dr. Kathleen S. Yep Based on stories his father told him, Yep tells the story of a 10-year-old boy who must accompany his father to Angel Island. It is told from the young boy’s perspective.
- Coolies by Yin and Chris Soentpiet While not technically about Angel Island, the book does show the experiences of Chinese immigrants once they arrived in San Francisco and how their labor was exploited to build the Trans-Continental Railroad.
- Brothers by Yin and Chris Soentpiet A follow-up to the story presented in Coolies, Ming arrives to help run his brothers’ store and soon makes friends with a young Irish boy who is also an immigrant.
- The Journal of Wong Ming-Chung: A Chinese Miner, California, 1852 (My Name is America) by Laurence Yep Written as the diary of a young Chinese boy who comes to California to help his uncle in the gold mines, the story tells of the grueling conditions and poor wages of Chinese miners. When Wong Ming-Chung comes to America, he believes he will get rich and be able to bring the rest of his family from China. He soon learns he will have to do something besides mining if he wants that dream to come true.
- Landed by Milly Lee and Yangsook Choi Sun is 12 years old and is going to America with his father. To make sure he will be able to answer all the question once he gets there, his family hires a tutor to help him study. Even though he has practiced for what seems like forever, he is detained on Angel Island.
- Angel Island (We the People: Industrial America series) by Alice K. Flanagan Factual accounts of Angel Island and the experiences of the immigrants. Includes photos taken on Angel Island, as well.
- Angel Island (Cornerstones of Freedom) by Larry Dane Brimner Facts and pictures illustrate the thousands of immigrants who entered the United States through Angel Island.
- The Chinese American Family Album (American Family Albums) by Dorothy Hoobler, Thomas Hoobler, and Bette Bao Lord The book looks at many aspects of the immigrant experience. Everything from the homeland, to the arrival in America, and the contributions of Chinese-Americans today.
These books can be purchased on Angel Island and local bookstores.