Representation is important, and so is cultivating a diverse reading library for your child.
In honor of Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, I'm excited to share a list of wonderful new (and new-to-be-discovered) picture books that celebrate Asian and Pacific Islander stories and culture. As in all facets of media, representation is important, and so is cultivating a diverse reading library for your child. With the uptick in hate crimes against this community, there has never been a better time to support Asian and Pacific Islander businesses, and buying books with strong AAPI characters is a perfect way to do that.
These beautifully illustrated books feature Asian and Pacific Islander characters and stories, and would make a great addition to your library.
This sweet tale follows a young boy who has recently arrived from Korea. Whenever he feels homesick, he visits a beautiful plum tree in his new backyard. Reminiscent of The Giving Tree, the boy and the tree are connected to one another. Even after a storm brings the old tree down, the boy is still able to have all sorts of adventures on its branches. One day, a new tree is planted, and a new friendship begins. With whimsical illustrations by Korean artist Il Sung Na, this picture book is appropriate for 4-8.
On sale May 4, 2021
This picture book is a celebration of Hawaiian land and culture, and in the story, a family (or "ohana") are preparing for a traditional luau celebration. With vivid illustrations by Kenard Pak, the reader will feel like they are invited to the party, too. The backmatter includes a glossary of Hawaiian terms used, as well as an author's note. Written for ages 4-8.
"This is the land that's never been sold, where work the hands, so wise and old, that reach through the water, clear and cold, into the mud to pick the taro to make the poi for our ohana's luau."
Perfect for ages 4-8, Andrea Wang's autobiographical story is about a young girl embracing her family's Chinese heritage after first being embarrassed by her mother foraging for watercress on the side of the road. It's only after her mother shares a story of her family's time in China that the girl can appreciate the fresh watercress they found and the new memory they made together. With gorgeous illustrations by Caldecott Honoree Jason Chin, this is a beautiful story of a child of immigrants connecting with her family's history.
In this adorable picture book for ages 3-7, Yoomi the cat and her Daddy take the bus to Koreatown for a day of adventure. While there, they read Korean books, eat Korean treats such as patbingsu and tteokbokki, and visit Grandma. A delightful way to learn more about Korean culture, Aram Kim also includes a family recipe for kimbap in the book. Yummy!
In the spirit of Matthew A. Cherry's Hair Love, this charming picture book for ages 4-8 is about a Sikh father and daughter with a special hair bond as they proudly celebrate and share a family tradition.
"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!"
In this debut picture book by Michelle Sterling (available May 18), a young girl and her visiting Filipino grandmother spend a magical summer together. This sweet book, with whimsical illustrations by Aaron Asis, showcases the bond of family as the duo teaches each other about their own traditions that span oceans and generations. Best for ages 4-8.
In this delightful story for ages 4-8, Amira can't wait to stay home from school to celebrate Eid, which comes at the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month. There's only one problem: it's also school picture day! How can Amira be in two places at once? You'll have to read and find out! With vibrant illustrations by Fahmida Azim, a last-minute idea on the car ride home might just provide the solution to everything in this delightful story.
When Grandpa lives on the other side of the ocean, you have to get a little creative in order to have a great grandparent-grandchild relationship. Yum shares the challenges and joys of having a relative who lives far away in her latest book (perfect for ages 4-8), a subject that's all too poignant during a pandemic.
In this charming picture book for ages 3-7, a little girl named Bindu loves her collection of bindis, the forehead decorations worn by Hindus, because they remind her of her Nani who lives in India. When Nani comes to visit, it's just in time for the school talent show, and Bindu is ready to embrace her sparkly bindis (beautifully illustrated by Parvati Pillai), even if it means standing out in the crowd.
Based on a true story, this inspiring picture book for ages 4-8 follows the tale of one very special family in Taiwan who have 9 sons and 1 daughter. As the little girl grows up in the shadow of her brothers, her determination and persistence help her to create her own voice and path in the world. Then one day, she can pass her wisdom on to her own daughter, "her own little dumpling".
In this uplifting body-positive book, Laxmi is a young Indian American girl who is teased because of the hair on her body. With her parents' help, Laxmi learns that hair isn't just for heads, but that it grows everywhere, regardless of gender. With endearing illustrations by Nabi H. Ali, Laxmi's Mooch is a celebration of our bodies and our body hair (and whichever way it grows!)
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