Did you know May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month? It’s an excellent opportunity to dig into the incredible contributions that Asian American and Pacific Islanders have made to the country’s culture, history, and progress. Through these 11 children’s books, kids can learn about modern-day AAPI heroes, listen to folktales from Asian and Pacific Island countries, and immerse themselves in stories that explore and celebrate a variety of AAPI experiences. 

Amira’s Picture Day by Reem Faruqi, illustrated by Fahmida Azim

 Amira’s Picture Day book cover

Amira is a happy kid who loves Eid, a time-honored Muslim holiday. She gets to wear new clothes, hand out goody bags, and celebrate with her community. The problem? Eid falls on school picture day. How will her friends remember her if she isn’t included in the annual school picture day? This is a lovely book for kids between the ages of 4 and 8 that explores themes of diversity, compassion, and anti-racism. 

My Tree by Hope Lim, illustrated by Il Sung Na

 My Tree book cover

A little boy who recently immigrated to America is happy to find that his new backyard has a beautiful plum tree just like his backyard in Korea had. He feels safe under this new tree and even names it “Plumee”. But when a storm knocks the tree over, the little boy finds himself feeling lots of big emotions about his new surroundings. This book is for kids ages 4 to 8 and explores immigration, self-discovery, and emotional growth. 

Toasty by Sarah Hwang

 Toasty book cover

Toasty is a sweet and funny book about a piece of toast that wants to be a dog. Toasty goes on a wild adventure to become a dog but ends up finding out that being a piece of toast is pretty cool. This story was inspired by the author's childhood experience of being an immigrant in America and learning that you can make the best of friends when you just be yourself. Perfect for ages 4 to 6 and explores self-discovery through humor and compassion. 

Sunday Funday in Koreatown by Aram Kim

 Sunday Funday in Koreatown book cover

Yoomi and her dad plan the perfect day in Koreatown...except that not everything goes as planned. Little Yoomi learns the powerful lesson that self-resilience and an open mind can transform any situation into a positive one. This book is geared toward kids ages 3 to 6 and highlights themes of gratitude, self-discovery, and cultural appreciation. 

Asian-Americans Who Inspire Us by Analiza Quiroz Wolf 

Asian Americans Who Inspire Us book cover 

We love this collection of Asian American heroes who inspire young readers to do great things. With beautiful illustrations and informative descriptions, this book for all ages will teach kids about the incredible contributions from people like Vietnam Memorial architect Maya Lin, Olympian Kristi Yamaguchi, musician Yo-Yo Ma, astronaut Ellison Onizuka, anchorwoman Lisa Ling, activists Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz, and many more. Tykes can see themselves as ordinary people who did extraordinary things. 

The Most Beautiful Thing by Kao Kalia Yang and illustrated by Khoa Le 

 The Most Beautiful Thing book cover

This beautifully illustrated picture book can teach kids of all ages about empathy and resilience. The story follows the author's childhood experience as a Hmong refugee and takes readers from the jungle of Laos to the author's arrival to the United States. This lovely story brings to life the refugee experience for kids with compassion and humanity.

The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi 

 The Name Jar book cover

The Name Jar is an Amazon Teacher's Pick and tells the story of Unhei, a little girl who is newly arrived from Korea. Worried that she won't fit in, she tells her classmates that she'll choose an American name, and soon a glass jar begins to fill with name suggestions from other kids. But as the kids learn that her real name is beautiful and has a special meaning, Unhei discovers that she is special just as she is. This sweet story is perfect for kids as young as 3. 

Vietnamese Children's Favorite Stories by Phuoc Thi Minh Tran, illustrated by Dong Nguyen & Hop Thi Nguyen

 Vietnamese Children's Favorite Stories book cover

Vietnamese Children's Favorite Stories is a richly illustrated collection of classic Vietnamese fairy tales and folk stories that give readers a glimpse into the beautiful literary history of Vietnamese culture. This book is the winner of the Creative Child Magazine 2015 Book of the Year Award and the Moonbeam Children's Book Awards 2015 Gold Medal. 

Chinese Fables: The Dragon Slayer and Other Timeless Tales of Wisdom by Shiho S. Nunes, illustrated by Lak-Khee Tay-Audouard

Chinese Fables book cover 

Perfect for all ages (even grown-ups!) this beautiful collection of classic Chinese fables explores themes of honesty, respect, courage, and self-reliance. With lots of eye-catching illustrations, these stories that hark back to the third century BCE come alive for both young and old. It was also the Winner of the 2014 Aesop Prize for Children's and Young Adult Literature. 

Pan de Sal Saves the Day by Norma Olizon-Chikiamco, illustrated by Mark Salvatus

 Pan de Sal Saves the Day

Pan de Sal is a young girl who feels and looks different. Even her name is different. She feels out of place and can't see the value of her strengths and talents. But when an unexpected situation calls for the resourcefulness and skill that only she has, Pan de Sal realizes that being different doesn't mean she isn't special. This book for all ages explores themes of self-discovery, cultural diversity, and compassion. 

Ohana Means Family by Ilima Loomis, illustrated by Kenard Pak

 Ohana Means Family book cover

Kids as young as 3 can learn about the rich native Hawaiian traditions in this poetic and beautifully illustrated book. Loomis and Pak show readers how the family is a vital and connected part of nature through the story of kalo, which is a traditionally important plant in Hawaiian culture. Kids will love the lyrical verse, and the mesmerizing illustrations that will spark imagination and delight long after the last page is read. 

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