The Best Kids Books to Read During Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

The Best Kids Books to Read During Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
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The Best Kids Books to Read During Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month has begun and now is no better time to celebrate the history and culture of some many people and to listen to empowering stories of resilience. One of the best ways to celebrate while also learning and educating yourself is through books, which is why we came up with a list of kids books that are perfect to read with kiddos of all ages during this month!

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Early Readers

My First Mandarin Words With Gordon & Li Li by By Michele Wong McSween

Pre K and Up

Have your kids learn  English and Mandarin at the same time with My First Mandarin Word With Gordon & Li Li book! With a mixture of greetings, everyday words, animals, and numbers, kids will love reading along and the two panda cousins try to communicate with each other. 

When asked about the importance of AAPI Heritage Month, Author and Creative Director Michele Wong McSween said, “ Celebrating AAPI Heritage Month by reading a book by an AAPI author, attending an AAPI event, or supporting an AAPI business, says, I value you and your story. I hope this month can help bring us closer to living in a community of acceptance, inclusion, and embracing each other’s diversity, one book at a time.”

Eyes That Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho

Ages 2-7

This beautiful picture book tells the story of a young Asian girl who notices that her eyes look different from the rest of the kids in her class. With the help of her mother, grandmother, and sister, she learns to love and celebrate your Asian-shaped eyes. This New York Times Bestseller is the perfect book to add to your collection this month!

Sumo Joe by Mia Wenjen

Ages 4-7

During the day on Saturday’s, Sumo Joe is known for being the best big brother to his little sister, but on Saturday night he and his friends put all of their energy into becoming sumo wrestlers which also means they follow sumo’s ultimate rule: no girls allowed! When Sumo Joe’s sister wants to join in on the fun, he needs to make a decision between sumo and his sister.

The Name Jar Written and illustrated by Yangsook Choi

Ages 5-9

As Unhei gets ready for her first day at a new school, she starts to get anxious about her classmates not knowing how to say her name. Instead of introducing herself, she decides to pick an American name out of a jar that she can choose to use instead. This story is not only heartwarming, but it also promotes being proud of your background and true to yourself.

Upper-Level Readers

American Born Chinese, by Gene Luen Yang

Ages 12 and Up

This action-packed story follows three apparently unrelated characters: Jin Wang who learns he is the only Chinese-American student in his school, the Monkey King, and Chin-Kee who is the epitome of the negative Chinese stereotype. In an unexpected twist, these three lives come together and make for an exciting story to read about.

Front Desk by Kelly Yang

Ages 9-11

Front Desk was the winner of the Asian / Pacific American Award for Children’s Literature, making it the perfect book for your kids to read this month! Mia Tang is carrying a lot of secrets around with her: She lives in a Motel with her parents, her parents hide immigrants, and that she wants to be a writer. Readers will stay intrigued until the end as Mia tries to tackle everything at once while also following her dreams.

Red, White, and Whole by Rajani LaRocca

Ages 8-12

Reha seems to be living two separate lives: one where she is the only Indian American student in her school and one where she follows her parents strict expectations when it comes to their traditions and holidays. Everything changes when her mother, or Amma, gets very ill and now Reha will do anything to become the perfect daughter in Amma’s life in order to save her life.

When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller 

Ages 9-13

Another Winner Of The Asian/Pacific American Award For Children’s Literature, this book tells the story of Lilly who learns an old family secret while meeting a magical tiger at her grandmother’s house. Now Lilly must go on an adventure to right some wrong while also trying to save her grandmother.

8th Grade and Young Adult Readers

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

Ages Young Adult

This beautifully written story starts with four Chinese women in 1949 who have recently immigrated to America. These women call themselves The Joy Luck Club and get together to eat dim sum, play mahjong and to talk about some of their shared losses and hope. Now 40 years later, these women have an American-born daughter and Author Amy Tan, through the book examines the deep, but sometimes difficult connection between a mother and daughter.

We Are Not Free by Traci Chee

Ages 13 and Up

This book has won and been nominated for a number of awards and has a powerful message that is important for kids to read about. We Are Not Free follows a close group of young Nisei, second-generation Japanese American citizens, that are dealing with the mass U.S. incarcerations of World War II.