I Am Golden, by Eva Chen, illustrated by Sophie Diao, is a love letter from Mei’s parents to their daughter, explaining her name and how her differences can be powerful. They tell her she has a golden flame on the inside. She is made of “dragons, of phoenixes, of jade rabbits, and of monkey kings.” It’s an appropriate representation story for today’s generation in which racism has been rampant among Asians.
Using Asian descriptions and metaphors, Mei’s parents show her how she is special. They tell her that others like her are artists and scientists and inventors, etc… They believe in her. She is golden. She, too, will do great things.
An author’s note with photos of Eva’s own Chinese family describes how her parents immigrated to the U.S., and how she wrote this story for her own children during the anti-Asian sentiment during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the end, she wants all children to understand their strength, family history, and beauty.
This is such an important message for all children, regardless of their skin color. They are seen, heard, loved, special, and important. My kindergartners really liked this book. I told them, “You are not all golden like me, but what might you say?” Most of them proceeded to state their skin color.
“I am brown, tan, dark brown, bright, white, and light brown.”
Further activities could include asking their parents about their own family history. And at conferences next year, I’m going to use my colleague’s idea. She has parents write an inspiring note to their kids to leave on their desk. What a surprise to see in the morning!
I AM GOLDEN is a wonderful affirmation for any child.