Minnesota writers trust kids to take on difficult topics in new picture books

Our children need to talk and learn about scary stuff going on in our world today, even if the conversation is difficult for adults, whether it’s the death of a child or the Earth without humans.

That’s the message from award-winning Minnesota writers Kao Kalia Yang and John Coy, who will talk about their new picture books in a virtual conversation this week.

Yang, one of the country’s first published Hmong-American writers, honors  a Hmong family who lost a child in “The Shared Room.” Coy celebrates the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in “If We Were Gone: Imagining the World Without People,” a story of good things that will happen to the Earth if humans no longer inhabit it.

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Bee Yang

Hmong song poetry | kwv txhiaj hmoob

Thaum Hluas Txog Hnub Laus: When the Days of Youth are Gone (Bee Yang, 2014)

This is an album of Hmong song poetry, kwv txhiaj hmoob, composed and sung by Bee Yang, Kao Kalia Yang’s father. The album notes and English translation of one of the songs are by Kao Kalia Yang.

Kwv txhiaj is, in the words of Ralph Ellison on the American Blues, “an impulse to keep the painful details and episodes of a brutal experience alive in one’s aching consciousness, to finger its jagged grain, and to transcend it, not by the consolation of philosophy but by squeezing from it a near-tragic, near-cosmic lyricism. As a form, the blues [and kwv txhiaj] is an autobiographical chronicle of personal catastrophe expressed lyrically.”

NOTE:  The duration of the songs do not reflect the actual song length.  Please consider ordering the CD for the full songs.  Thank you.

*This CD is available for purchase for $15.  Click below to order:


Bee Yang: Hmong Song Poetry



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