Very Asian Foundation donates books to St. Paul elementary schools

A nonprofit known as the Very Asian Foundation and its partners are working to get more diverse books into the hands of young students. 

It's a nationwide push, with roots here in the Twin Cities.

At Phalen Lake Hmong Studies Magnet School in Saint Paul, a warm welcome for Gia Vang and Michelle Li. Vang, a former Twin Cities journalist and LI a journalist based out of St. Louis, Missouri, co-founded the "Very Asian Foundation" a little more than a year ago.

For the initiative, the Very Asian Foundation is partnering with an organization called, "We Need Diverse Books." Today they delivered more than 70 books to Phalen Lake Hmong Studies and Jie Ming Mandarin Immersion Academy.

"Our mission has always been to shed a light on Asian experiences through advocacy and celebration," Vang told FOX 9. And today, they are doing so through literature. 

Phalen Lake is among two St. Paul Public Schools to receive dozens of children's books from the foundation. 

"We want to show fuller dynamic pictures of the Asian American and it starts with libraries and books and people who are Asian Americans seeing themselves in books too," said Vang.

May Lee Xiong is the Principal at Phalen Lake Hmong Studies.

"The impact that it can have on a child is really powerful," said Xiong. "I can remember not ever seeing characters that looked like me and so it's really important because you want to know that your experience matters too."

Their goal is to increase access to diverse children's literature in schools, one book at a time.

"Now we're going on to different schools around the country and if they need those books we're providing them for them we're just happy to have them in libraries where kids can read," said Vang.