Even though Yin was born in Brooklyn, she couldn’t understand English when she was young, because her parents only spoke to her in Chinese. At that time, her family lived in an apartment on the 19th floor of a very tall building. Climbing all those stairs was horrible, and she felt the same way about school. Over time, with the help of some kind teachers and wonderful friends, her English improved and she started to enjoy school. Her favorite subject was social studies and learning about different cultures.
In her award-winning book, Coolies, Yin used her grandmother’s memories to tell a story about how two young boys from China survived the building of the Transcontinental Railroad. In her second book, Brothers, she used her memories about friendship and learning English to tell a story about two immigrant families in early America. Her books and program promote a curriculum that promotes inclusiveness of Asian-American history and culture.