Explore the diversity of Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage in books for youth. From visual representation in picture books and graphic novels to fictionalized historical accounts in juvenile and young adult novels, we have books for all readers. When reading about cultures different from our own, we often learn new things about ourselves and sometimes even discover a new interest that last a lifetime.
Children’s Reading List
|A Big Mooncake for Little Star
by Grace LinLittle Star loves the delicious Mooncake that she bakes with her mama. But she’s not supposed to eat any yet! What happens when she can’t resist a nibble?
In this stunning picture book that shines as bright as the stars in the sky, Newbery Honor author Grace Lin creates a heartwarming original story that explains phases of the moon.
|A Different Pond
by Bao Phi and illustrated by Thi BuiAs a young boy, Bao Phi awoke early, hours before his father’s long workday began, to fish on the shores of a small pond in Minneapolis. Unlike many other anglers, Bao and his father fished for food, not recreation. A successful catch meant a fed family. Between hope-filled casts, Bao’s father told him about a different pond in their homeland of Vietnam.
by Jama Kim Rattigan and illustrated by Lillian Hsu-FlandersMarisa gets to help make dumplings this year to celebrate the New Year. But she worries if anyone will eat her funny-looking dumplings. Set in the Hawaiian islands, this story celebrates the joyful mix of food, customs, and languages from many cultures.
|Every Night Is Pizza Night
by J. Kenji López-Alt and illustrated by Gianna RuggieroPipo thinks that pizza is the best. No, Pipo knows that pizza is the best. It is scientific fact. But when she sets out on a neighborhood-spanning quest to prove it, she discovers that “best” might not mean what she thought it meant.
Join Pipo as she cooks new foods with her friends Eugene, Farah, Dakota, and Ronnie and Donnie. Each eating experiment delights and stuns her taste buds. Is a family recipe for bibimbap better than pizza? What about a Moroccan tagine that reminds you of home? Or is the best food in the world the kind of food you share with the people you love?
|Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas
by Natasha Yim and illustrated by Grace ZongIn this Chinese American retelling of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” a careless Goldy Luck wreaks havoc on the home of a family of panda bears. She eats up the littlest panda’s rice porridge, breaks his rocking chair, and rumples all the blankets on his futon. When Goldy takes responsibility for her actions, she makes a new friend (and a whole plate of turnip cakes!) just in time for Chinese New Year.
by Allen SayThrough compelling reminiscences of his grandfather’s life in America and Japan, Allen Say delivers a poignant account of his family’s unique cross-cultural experience. He warmly conveys his own love for his two countries and described the strong and constant desire to be in both places at once: When in one country, he invariably misses the other. His grandfather, he tells us, would understand.
|Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same!
by Grace LinLing and Ting are two adorable identical twins, and they stick together, whether they are making dumplings, getting their hair cut, or practicing magic tricks. But looks are deceiving–people can be very different, even if they look exactly the same.
|Love, Sophia on the Moon
by Anica Mrose Rissi and illustrated by Mika SongLife on earth isn’t always fair, so Sophia runs off to the moon, where there are no bedtimes, no time-outs, and no Mom.
But as Sophia and her mom send letters to each other, Mom has a clever comeback for all of Sophia’s angry notes. Home starts to sound not-quite-so-bad, especially when Mom reports that someone from the moon has moved in to Sophia’s old room, they’re having spaghetti for dinner, and they’re reading Sophia’s favorite story at bedtime.
|The Most Beautiful Thing
by Kao Kalia Yang and illustrated by Khoa LeDrawn from author Kao Kalia Yang’s childhood experiences as a Hmong refugee, this moving picture book portrays a family with a great deal of love and little money. Weaving together Kalia’s story with that of her beloved grandmother, the book moves from the jungles of Laos to the family’s early years in the United States. When Kalia becomes unhappy about having to do without and decides she wants braces to improve her smile, it is her grandmother–a woman who has just one tooth in her mouth–who helps her see that true beauty is found with those we love most. Stunning illustrations from Vietnamese illustrator Khoa Le bring this intergenerational tale to life.
by Bao Phi and illustrated by Basia TranEvery child feels different in some way, but Thuy feels “double different.” She is Vietnamese American and she has two moms. Thuy walks home one winter afternoon, angry and lonely after a bully’s taunts. Then a bird catches her attention and sets Thuy on an imaginary exploration. What if she could fly away like a bird? What if she could sprint like a deer, or roar like a bear? Mimicking the footprints of each creature in the snow, she makes her way home to the arms of her moms. Together, the three of them imagine beautiful and powerful creatures who always have courage – just like Thuy.
|Sugar in Milk
by Thrity Umrigar and illustrated by Khoa LeWhen I first came to this country, I felt so alone. A young immigrant girl joins her aunt and uncle in a new country that is unfamiliar to her. She struggles with loneliness, with a fierce longing for the culture and familiarity of home, until one day, her aunt takes her on a walk. As the duo strolls through their city park, the girl’s aunt begins to tell her an old myth, and a story within the story begins.
Juvenile Reading List
|Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things
by Lenore LookHere are some thing you should know about Alvin Ho:
1. He is afraid of everything. Trains, bridges, substitute teachers, girls, school. Everything.
2. He is from Concord, Massachusetts, which is hard to spell.
3. He loves Aquaman, Wonder Woman, all the superheroes of the the world. In fact, he is a superhero himself–Firecracker Man!
4. He is trying very hard to be a gentleman, like his dad, but there are a lot of rules and they are hard to remember.
5. He can talk at home and on the school bus, but never, ever at school. It is just too scar. (See #1.)
And there’s a lot more to learn about this amazing kid, so meet Alvin Ho…
by Yoon Ha LeeThirteen-year-old Min c omes from a long line of fox spirits. But you’d never know it by looking at her. To keep the family safe, Min’s mother insists that none of them use any fox-magic, such as Charm or shape-shifting. They must appear human at all times.
Min feels hemmed in by the household rules and resents the endless chores, the cousins who crowd her, and the aunties who judge her. She would like nothing more than to escape Jinju, her neglected, dust-ridden, and impoverished planet. She’s counting the days until she can follow her older brother, Jun, into the Space Forces and see more of the Thousand Worlds.
|Heart of a Samurai
by Margi PreusIn 1841, a Japanese fishing vessel sinks. Its crew is forced to swim to a small, unknown island, where they are rescued by a passing American ship. Japan’s borders remain closed to all Western nations, so the crew sets off to America, learning English on the way.
Manjiro, a fourteen-year-old boy, is curious and eager to learn everything he can about this new culture. Eventually the captain adopts Manjiro and takes him to his home in New England. The boy lives for some time in New England, and then heads to San Francisco to pan for gold. After many years, he makes it back to Japan, only to be imprisoned as an outsider. With his hard-won knowledge of the West, Manjiro is in a unique position to persuade the shogun to ease open the boundaries around Japan; he may even achieve his unlikely dream of becoming a samurai.
|The Journal of Wong Ming-Chung: A Chinese Miner, California, 1852
by Lawrence YepIn 1852, during the height of the California Gold Rush, ten-year-old Wong Ming-Chung makes the dangerous trip to America to join his uncle on his hunt for a fortune. The true treasure for Ming-Chung, though, is America itself. In the midst of the lawless, often hostile environment, he is able to forge an international community of friends.
by Cynthia Kadohatakira-kira (kee ra kee ra): glittering; shining
Glittering. That’s how Katie Takeshima’s sister, Lynn, makes everything seem. The sky is kira-kira because its color is deep but see-through at the same time. The sea is kira-kira for the same reason and so are people’s eyes. When Katie and her family move from a Japanese community in Iowa to the Deep South of Georgia, it’s Lynn who explains to her why people stop on the street to stare, and it’s Lynn who, with her special way of viewing the world, teaches Katie to look beyond tomorrow, but when Lynn becomes desperately ill, and the whole family begins to fall apart, it is up to Katie to find a way to remind them all that there is always something glittering — kira-kira — in the future.
by Lily LaMotte and art by Ann XuTwelve-year-old Cici has just moved from Taiwan to Seattle, and the only thing she wants more than to fit in at her new school is to celebrate her grandmother, A-má’s, seventieth birthday together.
Since she can’t go to A-má, Cici cooks up a plan to bring A-má to her by winning the grand prize in a kids’ cooking contest to pay for A-má’s plane ticket! There’s just one problem: Cici only knows how to cook Taiwanese food.
|On the Horizon
by Lois LowryLois Lowry looks back at history through a personal lens as she draws from her own memories as a child in Hawaii and Japan, as well as from historical research, in this work in verse for young readers.
On the Horizon tells the story of people whose lives were lost or forever altered by the twin tragedies of Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima. Composed of poems about individual sailors who lost their lives on the Arizona and about the citizens of Hiroshima who experienced unfathomable horror.
by Linda Sue ParkPrairie Lotus is a book about a girl determined to fit in and realize her dreams: getting an education, becoming a dressmaker in her father’s shop, and making at least one friend. Hanna, a half-Asian girl in a small town in America’s heartland, lives in 1880. Hanna’s adjustment to her new surroundings, and the townspeople’s prejudice against Asians, is at the heart of the story.
by Jen WangWhen Moon’s family moves in next door to Christine’s, Moon goes from unlikely friend to best friend―maybe even the perfect friend. The girls share their favorite music videos, paint their toenails when Christine’s strict parents aren’t around, and make plans to enter the school talent show together. Moon even tells Christine her deepest secret: that she sometimes has visions of celestial beings who speak to her from the stars. Who reassure her that earth isn’t where she really belongs.
But when they’re least expecting it, catastrophe strikes. After relying on Moon for everything, can Christine find it in herself to be the friend Moon needs?
|Under the Blood-Red Sun
by Graham SalisburyTomi was born in Hawaii. His grandfather and parents were born in Japan, and came to America to escape poverty. World War II seems far away from Tomi and his friends, who are too busy playing ball on their eighth-grade team, the Rats.
But then Pearl Harbor is attacked by the Japanese, and the United States declares war on Japan. Japanese men are rounded up, and Tomi’s father and grandfather are arrested. It’s a terrifying time to be Japanese in America. But one thing doesn’t change: the loyalty of Tomi’s buddies, the Rats.
|Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
by Grace LinIn the valley of Fruitless mountain, a young girl named Minli lives in a ramshackle hut with her parents. In the evenings, her father regales her with old folktales of the Jade Dragon and the Old Man on the Moon, who knows the answers to all of life’s questions. Inspired by these stories, Minli sets off on an extraordinary journey to find the Old Man on the Moon to ask him how she can change her family’s fortune. She encounters an assorted cast of characters and magical creatures along the way, including a dragon who accompanies her on her quest for the ultimate answer.
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