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17 Great AAPI #ownvoices Children’s Books

17 Great AAPI #ownvoices Children’s Books

May 1st marked the start of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month

To celebrate, we’ve created a list with 17 amazing children’s books with Asian American and Pacific Islander representation.  There are so many great books that we love but to the best of our ability, we tried to only highlight books written by #ownvoices authors.  These books offer everyday experiences, humor, adventure, drama, self-esteem, and self-reliance building, loving families, and much more.  We not only pull these off of the shelf in May but many are worn from repeated read alouds throughout the year. 

While we limited this list to 17,  you can find a hundred titles in our AAPI Heritage Month” collection on Bookshop.  

Disclaimer: We use affiliate links for Bookshop and will make a cent or two if you buy using these links. It’s a great way to support local bookstores.

 

 

Laxmi’s Mooch by Shelley Anand, Nabi H. Ali: A joyful, body-positive picture book about a young Indian American girl’s journey to accept her body hair and celebrate her heritage after being teased about her mustache.

Laxmi never paid much attention to the tiny hairs above her lip. But one day while playing farm animals at recess, her friends point out that her whiskers would make her the perfect cat. She starts to notice body hair all over–on her arms, legs, and even between her eyebrows.

With her parents’ help, Laxmi learns that hair isn’t just for heads, but that it grows everywhere, regardless of gender. Featuring affirming text by Shelly Anand and exuberant, endearing illustrations by Nabi H. Ali, Laxmi’s Mooch is a celebration of our bodies and our body hair, in whichever way they grow.  (Ages 4-8)

 

Round is a Mooncake: A Book of Shapes by Roseanne Thong, Grace Lin: A little girl’s urban neighborhood becomes a discovery ground for all things round, square, and rectangular in this lyrical picture book. Most items are Asian in origin, others universal: round rice bowls and a found pebble, square dim sum and the boxes that the pizzas come in rectangular Chinese lace, and a very special pencil case. Bright, whimsical art accompanies the narrative rhyme, and a short glossary adds cultural significance to the objects featured in the book. Perfect for read-alouds or one-on-one sharing. (Ages 3-5)

 

 

Grandpa Gumps by Katrina Moore, Xindi Yan.: Daisy’s Yeh-Yeh is visiting from China, and try as she might, Daisy can’t get her grumpy grandpa to smile!

Daisy’s Yeh-Yeh is visiting for the first time from China, and Daisy is so excited to meet him! She has big plans for all the fun they’ll have together, like tea parties and snow angels, but when Yeh-Yeh arrives, Daisy finds him less jolly than she imagined. Throughout the week, she tries all sorts of things to get him past his grumpiness. Will she be able to make him smile before he goes home?

Kids will love this funny and heartwarming story about overcoming cultural differences and connecting across generations! (Ages 4-8)

 

Sumo Joe by Mia Wenjen, Nat Iwata: In this sweet and funny story, Sumo Joe and his friends enjoy pretending to be sumo wrestlers. But when his little sister wants to join their boys-only game, what should Sumo Joe do?

On Saturday mornings, Sumo Joe is a gentle big brother to his little sister. But on Saturday afternoons, he and his friends are sumo wrestlers They tie on makeshift mawashi belts, practice drills like teppo, and compete in their homemade dohyo ring. They even observe sumo’s ultimate rule: no girls allowed But when Sumo Joe’s little sister wants to join in the fun, Sumo Joe is torn between the two things he’s best at–sumo, and being a big brother.  Fists, feet, and martial art forms collide in this sweet yet spirited rhyming story by author Mia Wenjen and illustrator Nat Iwata. (Ages 5-6)

 

 

 

Hair Twins by Raakhee Mirchandanee, Holly Hatam: Every morning Papa combs through his daughter’s waves like he does his own–parting it down the middle, using coconut oil to get all the tangles out.

Some days he braids her hair in two twists down the side of her face. Other days he weaves it into one long braid hanging down her back, just like a unicorn tail. But her favorite style is when he combs her hair in a tight bun on the top of her head, just like the joora he wears every day under his turban. They call this their hair twin look! (Ages 4-8)

 

Drawn Together by  Minh Lê, Dan Santat: When a young boy visits his grandfather, their lack of a common language leads to confusion, frustration, and silence. But as they sit down to draw together, something magical happens–with a shared love of art and storytelling, the two form a bond that goes beyond words.

With spare, direct text by Minh L and luminous illustrations by Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat, this stirring picturebook about reaching across barriers will be cherished for years to come. (Ages 3-5)

 

Eyes that Kiss in the Corner by  Joanna Ho, Dung Ho: A young Asian girl notices that her eyes look different from her peers’. They have big, round eyes and long lashes. She realizes that her eyes are like her mother’s, her grandmother’s, and her little sister’s. They have eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea, crinkle into crescent moons, and are filled with stories of the past and hope for the future.

Drawing from the strength of these powerful women in her life, she recognizes her own beauty and discovers a path to self-love and empowerment. This powerful, poetic picture book will resonate with readers of all ages. (Ages 4-8)

 

The Many Colors of Harpreet Singh by Supriya Kelkar, Simran Jeet Singh: Harpreet Singh loves his colors–but when his family moves to a new city, everything just feels gray. Can he find a way to make life bright again? Harpreet Singh has a different color for every mood and occasion, from pink for dancing to bhangra beats to red for courage. He especially takes care with his patkahis turban–smoothing it out and making sure it always matches his outfit. But when Harpreet’s mom finds a new job in a snowy city and they have to move, all he wants is to be invisible. Will he ever feel a happy sunny yellow again? (Ages 3-7)

 

 

Jasmine Toguchi: Mochi Queenby Debbi Michiko Florence:, Elizabet Vukovic: Jasmine is jealous that the older kids in her family have important jobs on the mochi-making day — she wants to do what the older boys and men are doing, pound the mochi rice. Her understanding father figures out a way for Jasmine to join in. And even though it didn’t work out how she wanted, her family is proud of her and decides it’s okay to break some rules like who gets to pound the rice. You’ll love how Jasmine’s Japanese-American culture and warm family community shine throughout. (Ages 6-9)

 

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School and Other Scary Things by Lenore Look: Alvin, an Asian American second grader, is afraid of everything—elevators, tunnels, girls, and, most of all, school. He’s so afraid of school that, while he’s there, he never, ever, says a word. But at home he’s a very loud superhero named Firecracker Man, a brother to Calvin and Anibelly, and a gentleman-in-training, so he can be just like his dad.

From Lenore Look and New York Times, bestselling illustrator LeUyen Pham comes a drop-dead-funny and touching series with a truly unforgettable character. (Ages 6-10) ***PICK OF THE MONTH***

 

 

From Nerd to Ninja! (Ninja Kid #1) by Ahn Do: Nelson wakes up on his birthday to discover that he has gained ninja powers overnight! This funny, heavily illustrated series from Anh Do is action-packed, with an appealingly grounded heart.

Nelson’s a nerd. Unfit, uncool . . . totally awkward! But when he wakes up on his tenth birthday, he discovers he’s a NINJA! THE LAST NINJA ON EARTH! How’s he going to SAVE THE WORLD when he can’t even get his undies on the right way?. (Ages 7-10) 

 

 

 

 

Meet Yasmin by Saadia Faruqui: Yasmin is an exuberant girl who is interested in everything from exploring to building to fashion. Each book in this series shares short stories from Yasmin’s life, all in chapters with lively, full-color illustrations. Each story shows Yasmin as a creative problem solver even when things get hard. Her Pakistani American culture is embedded throughout the story such as the foods Yasmin’s family eats like naan or how she calls her father Baba. (Ages 5-8) ***PICK OF THE MONTH***

 

The Comeback: A Figure Skating Novel: by E.L. Shen: Twelve-year-old Maxine Chen is just trying to nail that perfect landing: on the ice, in middle school, and at home, where her parents worry that competitive skating is too much pressure for a budding tween. Maxine isn’t concerned, however―she’s determined to glide to victory. But then a bully at school starts teasing Maxine for her Chinese heritage, leaving her stunned and speechless. And at the rink, she finds herself up against a stellar new skater named Hollie, whose grace and skill threaten to edge Maxine out of the competition. With everything she knows on uneven ice, will Maxine crash under the pressure? Or can she power her way to a comeback?

Set in Lake Placid, New York, this is a spunky yet stirring middle-grade story that examines racism, female rivalry and friendship, and the enduring and universal necessity of love and support (Ages 8-12)

 

Peter Lee’s Notes from the Field by Angela Ahn: Eleven-year-old Peter Lee has one goal in life: to become a paleontologist. Okay, maybe two: to get his genius kid-sister, L.B., to leave him alone. But his summer falls apart when his real-life dinosaur expedition turns out to be a bust, and he watches his dreams go up in a cloud of asthma-inducing dust.


Even worse, his grandmother, Hammy, is sick, and no one will talk to Peter or L.B. about it. Perhaps his days as a scientist aren’t quite behind him yet. Armed with notebooks and pens, Peter puts his observation and experimental skills to the test to see what he can do for Hammy. If only he can get his sister to be quiet for once — he needs time to sketch out a plan.
(Ages 8-12) 

 

American as Paneer Pie by Supriya Kelkar: As the only Indian American kid in her small town, Lekha Divekar feels like she has two versions of herself: Home Lekha, who loves watching Bollywood movies and eating Indian food, and School Lekha, who pins her hair over her bindi birthmark and avoids confrontation at all costs, especially when someone teases her for being Indian.

When a girl Lekha’s age moves in across the street, Lekha is excited to hear that her name is Avantika and she’s Desi, too! Finally, there will be someone else around who gets it. But as soon as Avantika speaks, Lekha realizes she has an accent. She’s new to this country, and not at all like Lekha.

To Lekha’s surprise, Avantika does not feel the same way as Lekha about having two separate lives or about the bullying at school. Avantika doesn’t take the bullying quietly. And she proudly displays her culture no matter where she is: at home or at school.

When a racist incident rocks Lekha’s community, Lekha realizes she must make a choice: continue to remain silent or find her voice before it’s too late. (Ages 8-12) 

 

Amina’s Song by  Hena Khan: It’s the last few days of her vacation in Pakistan, and Amina has loved every minute of it. The food, the shops, the time she’s spent with her family–all of it holds a special place in Amina’s heart. Now that the school year is starting again, she’s sad to leave but also excited to share the wonders of Pakistan with her friends back in Greendale.

After she’s home, though, her friends don’t seem overly interested in her trip. And when she decides to do a presentation on Pakistani hero Malala Yousafzai, her classmates focus on the worst parts of the story. How can Amina share the beauty of Pakistan when no one wants to listen?

 

Stand Up, Yumi Chung!: by  Jessica Kim: On the outside, Yumi Chung suffers from #shygirlproblems, a perm-gone-wrong, and kids calling her “Yu-MEAT” because she smells like her family’s Korean barbecue restaurant. On the inside, Yumi is ready for her Netflix stand-up special. Her notebook is filled with mortifying memories that she’s reworked into comedy gold. All she needs is a stage and courage.

Instead of spending the summer studying her favorite YouTube comedians, Yumi is enrolled in test-prep tutoring to qualify for a private school scholarship, which will help in a time of hardship at the restaurant. One day after class, Yumi stumbles on an opportunity that will change her life: a comedy camp for kids taught by one of her favorite YouTube stars. The only problem is that the instructor and all the students think she’s a girl named Kay Nakamura–and Yumi doesn’t correct them.

As this case of mistaken identity unravels, Yumi must decide to stand up and reveal the truth or risk losing her dreams and disappointing everyone she cares about. (Ages 8-12)

 

 

 

What are your favorite books with AAPI representation?  Drop a comment below.  

 

 

Kanika Mobley

Hi! I'm Kanika. I'm a mother and 20+ year educator. I started my career as a kindergarten teacher and fell in love with helping kids discover their reading identities. As they asked for certain books, I tried with all my might to keep the classroom library filled with high-engaging books that were both mirrors and windows for their experiences.

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