15 Kids’ Books That Celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Stories
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 15 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.
Written by Eva Chen, illustrated by Sophie Diao
I Am Golden proves that a children’s book can be much more than a sweet and sleepy story before bedtime. Here, New York Times bestselling author Eva Chen and illustrator Sophie Diao came together to create a joyous tome that not only celebrates the immigrant experience, it also oozes a message of self-love as the narrator lyrically speaks to Mei, a young Chinese girl. The words are just as captivating as the illustrations that lean on family photos and Chinese touchpoints like lotus flowers and majestic dragons. This poignant story about family, history, and belonging is a must-have for all children’s bookshelves.
Written by Reem Faruqi, illustrated by Fahmida Azim
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 her class picture? This sweet, award-winning read is for kids between the ages of 4 and 8 and explores themes of diversity, compassion, and anti-racism.
Written by Hope Lim, illustrated by Il Sung Na
A little boy from South Korea who recently immigrated to America is happy to find that his new yard features a breathtaking plum tree...just like the one from back home. He feels safe under the new tree that he's named Plumee. But when a storm knocks Plumee over, lots of big emotions about the boy's new surroundings come to the surface. This gentle and lovely book all about resilience, hope, and vulnerability is for kids ages 4 to 8 and it explores immigration, self-discovery, and emotional growth.
Written by Darshana Khiani, illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff
What’s a young fashionista to do when her family assumes she’s too young to wear a sari? Well, she sets out to dress herself! This utterly charming Amazon Editors’ Pick highlights the highs and lows of a wee girl wrestling with a long and cumbersome sari. Can she do it? Will she surprise everyone and waltz into her family's party wearing one of her mother’s exceedingly elegant saris? Will her family be impressed? No matter the result, kids will love learning all about this South Asian garment...as well as all the silliness!
Written and illustrated by Sarah Hwang
Toasty is a sweet and silly laugh-out-loud 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 self-discovery story was inspired by the author's childhood experience of being a Korean immigrant in America and learning that you can make the best of friends when you just be yourself. Toasty is just-right for children ages 4 to 6.
Written by Linda Meeker, illustrated by Sandra Eide
A book that encourages kiddos to try new foods and be healthy eaters? Sold! But don’t worry, Thank You, Mama is anything but a finger-wagging, eat-better book. Instead, it’s a gratitude-filled read from TikTok and Instagram stars Grey and Mama (@greyandmama) —Mama being Linda Meeker, a first generation Vietnamese American. As the pair moves through their day, Grey is presented with a wide array of foods to eat, like rice, olives, pancakes, sushi, all while trying to determine which food is his favorite. This lighthearted picture book for 3- to 7-year-olds is sure to please…and get you kiddo tasting new eats in no time!
Written and illustrated by Aram Kim
Yoomi and her dad plan the perfect day in Koreatown...except not everything goes as planned. Little Yoomi learns a powerful lesson that self-resilience and an open mind can transform any situation into a positive one. This heartwarming book is geared toward kids ages 3 to 6 and highlights themes of gratitude, self-discovery, and cultural appreciation.
Written by Shelly Anand, illustrated by Nabi H. Ali
There’s so much to love about Shelly Anand’s body-positive picture book for 4- to 8-year-olds that tells the story of a young Indian American girl…and her body hair. You see, Laxmi gets teased about her mustache, but with the help of her parents she learns that it’s totally normal for hair to grow pretty much everywhere…like on arms, legs, between eyebrows, and yes, above the lip, too. In the end, Laxmi learns to love her mooch and share that love with those around her.
Written and illustrated by Analiza Quiroz Wolf
This story collection of Asian American heroes will surely inspire young readers to do great things. With crisp illustrations and informative descriptions, this all-ages book teaches kids about the incredible contributions from people like Vietnam Memorial architect Maya Lin, Olympian Kristi Yamaguchi, musician Yo-Yo Ma, astronaut Ellison Onizuka, activists Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz, and many more.
Writen by Kao Kalia Yang, illustrated by Khoa Le
This beautifully illustrated, award-winning picture book follows the author's childhood experience as a Hmong refugee, taking readers from the jungle of Laos to her early years in America. With compassion and humanity, this lovely book brings to life the refugee experience for kids, teaching them the power of empathy and resilience. A joy to read!
Written and illustrated by Yangsook Choi
The Name Jar tells the story of Unhei, a little girl who just arrived to America from Korea who's worried that she won't fit in because of her hard-to-pronounce name. She tells her classmates that she'll choose an American name and soon a glass jar fills with name suggestions from other kids! But somehow, names like Suzy, Laura, and Amanda simply don't fit. The name she settles on might surprise you! This sweet story—an Amazon Teacher's Pick—is perfect for kids as young as 3.
Written by Phuoc Thi Minh Tran, illustrated by Dong Nguyen and Hop Thi Nguyen
Another award-winner, Vietnamese Children's Favorite Stories is a richly illustrated collection of 15 classic Vietnamese fairy tales and folk stories, giving readers a charming glimpse into a beautiful literary culture. A sure favorite amongst kids: The Story of Tam and Cam, which is a Vietnamese Cinderella story
Written by Shiho S. Nunes, illustrated by Lak-Khee Tay-Audouard
Great for all ages (even grown-ups!), this dazzling collection of 19 classic Chinese fables comes alive thanks to the engrossing writing and eye-catching illustrations. These tales, which date back to the third century BCE, explore themes of honesty, respect, courage, and self-reliance. It's no wonder Chinese Fables won the 2014 Aesop Prize for Children's and Young Adult Literature!
Written by Norma Olizon-Chikiamco, illustrated by Mark Salvatus
Pan de Sal is a young girl who lives in the Philippines and simply feels out of place. She just can't seem to see the value of her strengths and talents. But when an unexpected situation calls for the resourcefulness and skills that only she has, Pan de Sal realizes being different doesn't mean she isn't special. This heartening book for all ages explores themes of self-discovery, cultural diversity, and compassion.
Written by Ilima Loomis, illustrated by Kenard Pak
Here, readers are invited to watch as a Hawaiian family farms the kalo plant used in making poi to prepare for a traditional luau celebration. Kids as young as 3 will adore learning about rich native Hawaiian traditions in this poetic and gracefully illustrated book. The lyrical verse and the mesmerizing illustrations that will spark imagination and delight long after the last page is read.
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