Author and Illustrator Visits Morning Ex

Parker welcomed author and illustrator Dr. Karen Su to a special Morning Ex with 3rd, 4th and 5th grade last week. Su currently serves as the Global Asian Studies (GLAS) director of undergraduate studies at the University of Illinois Chicago and was also the founding director of the Asian American Resource and Cultural Center. She is also a published children’s book author and illustrator who won the 2022 Many Voices Prize from the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Illinois.

Su shared her history, her work at GLAS and her process for writing books and spoke more broadly on, “Who are Asian Americans?” She noted her biggest passion was for “Asian-American children to see more books representing them so they feel seen and valued—not just by literature, but also by their communities.” This desire stemmed from a childhood spent reading nonfiction in which she couldn’t find any writing that discussed Asian leaders. Su related an anecdote from one of her students about an ignorant previous teacher, who claimed, “There were no such books because Asian Americans had not done anything worth sharing.”

Realizing the patently false and hurtful nature of this type of discrimination, Su decided to take matters into her own hands and created the Leaders Like Us biography series. She then shared pages from her biographies of civil rights activist Yuri Kochiyama, former U.S. Representative Dalip Singh Saund, labor leader and farmworker Philip Vera Cruz and author and social activist Grace Lee Boggs.

Su concluded the MX by asking the audience, “What is a world problem you would like to help solve?” Students suggested ending homelessness and racism, helping the environment and saving endangered animals, among other issues.

Parker is grateful to Su for taking the time to speak with students and help bring light to the discrimination still apparent in our society.

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Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.