Yang Warriors

English & some Hmong


Hmong Culture

Own Voices

Refugee Experience


Lived Experiences

Social-Emotional Learning

Kao Kalia Yang & Billy Thao


Yang Warriors is a beautiful story that is one of the first books I’ve read that’s entirely Own Voices, with both a Hmong author and Hmong-American illustrator. The book takes place in Ban Vinai, a refugee camp where author Kao Kalia Yang lived as a child.

As the reader delves into the story, they are introduced to a cast of cousins that are brave, determined, and in need of fresh vegetables. The Yang Warriors are the author’s sister and cousins, and they are the bravest people she knows. Kao treasures how they look out for everyone while developing skills and going on adventures. The beauty of this story is how it empowers the Yang Warriors and showcases the bravery of children as conscientious members of the community; they go on the dangerous mission so younger kids can have a meal.

Yang Warriors is a book that is rich with discussion points, not just about life in a camp, but also the importance of familial relationships, advocacy, and community support. I highly recommend you seek out a copy, and suggest your local library order Yang Warriors so your own community can also read this important book!

This book was kindly sent by the University of Minnesota Press, but all opinions are my own.

Kao Kalia Yang

Kao Kalia Yang is a Hmong-American writer. She is the author of the memoirs The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir, The Song Poet, and Somewhere in the Unknown World. Yang is also the author of the children’s books A Map Into the World, The Shared Room, The Most Beautiful Thing, and Yang Warriors. She co-edited the ground-breaking collection What God is Honored Here?: Writings on Miscarriage and Infant Loss By and For Native Women and Women of Color. Yang’s work has been recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Chautauqua Prize, the PEN USA literary awards, the Dayton’s Literary Peace Prize, as Notable Books by the American Library Association, Kirkus Best Books of the Year, the Heartland Bookseller’s Award, and garnered four Minnesota Book Awards. Kao Kalia Yang lives in Minnesota with her family, and teaches and speaks across the nation.

Billy Thao

BILLY THAO is a Hmong American, self-taught visual artist and children’s illustrator. He earned his degree in sociology and philosophy, but art never left his curious hands. Within 10 years, he researched, explored, and experimented with art; while, simultaneously, serving with AmeriCorps (Minnesota Reading Corps and Community Technology Empowerment Project) before committing to become a full-time visual artist and children’s illustrator. Although he has exhibited his artworks within the Twin Cities, his responsibility as a children’s illustrator came first. His love of children’s illustration derived from his fascination with children’s books at the age of six. He remembers holding his first hardcover, the smell of the aura of turning each page, and living within each illustrations. He was not only intrigued with illustrating but committed to bringing the story to life. When he is not illustrating, he spends his time caring for his brother, Raymond,  spends time with his nieces and nephews, catch up on unfinish books, or taking a stroll outdoor and seeking inspirations. He resides within Washington County, MN.  The image for Billy’s bio was found here.

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