Books Celebrating Asian Americans
March 23, 2021
Books are an amazing way to learn about the world around us, including the many cultures that make up America. Whether celebrating your own heritage or learning about others, pick up a book to teach your children about our diverse world.
At United Through Reading we celebrate the diverse world we live in through our quarterly book gives and Storytime Starter Kit. We consciously choose books that celebrate Americans of all ethnicities.
These open up conversations between parents and children about issues of equity, diversity and inclusion, and can open the door for difficult conversations.
We have compiled a list of books celebrating Asian cultures or by Asian or Asian American authors or illustrators. We hope these help you pick the next book for your UTR recordings; you can order your next book from our book order form today.
Bee-Bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park
Bee-bim bop (the name translates as “mix-mix rice”) is a traditional Korean dish of rice topped, and then mixed, with meat and vegetables. In bouncy rhyming text, a hungry child tells about helping her mother make bee-bim bop: shopping, preparing ingredients, setting the table, and finally sitting down with her family to enjoy a favorite meal.
Juno’s grandmother writes in Korean and Juno writes in drawings, but that doesn’t mean they can’t exchange letters. From the photo his grandmother sends him, Juno can tell that she has a new cat. From the picture he makes for her, Juno’s grandmother can tell that he wants her to come for a visit. So she sends Juno a miniature plane, to let him know she’s on the way.
Turtle has looked everywhere for his favorite book, but it’s nowhere to be found! Maybe his book was borrowed by Zebra, Owl, Giraffe, Elephant, or Lion. As Turtle searches, his friends offer to share their own favorite stories, but other books just won’t do. Or is it time for Turtle to try something different?
Round is a Mooncake: A Book of Shapes by Roseanne Thong
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.
The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham
United Through Reading has 3 books from this chapter book series illustrated by Vietnamese illustrator LeUyen Pham.
Princess Magnolia is having hot chocolate and scones with Duchess Wigtower when . . . Brring! Brring! The Monster Alarm! But luckily Princess Magnolia has a secret —she’s also the Princess in Black, and stopping monsters is the perfect job for her! Can the princess sneak away, transform into her alter ego, and defeat the monster before the nosy duchess discovers her secret?
Using simple words and bright illustrations, author-illustrator Taro Gomi shows children that sometimes knowledge can come from all kinds of friends.
Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park
Prairie Lotus is a powerful, touching, multilayered book about a girl determined to fit in and realize her dreams: getting an education, becoming a dressmaker in her father’s shop, and making at least one friend. Acclaimed, award-winning author Linda Sue Park has placed a young half-Asian girl, Hanna, in a small town in America’s heartland, in 1880. Hanna’s adjustment to her new surroundings, which primarily means negotiating the townspeople’s almost unanimous prejudice against Asians, is at the heart of the story. Narrated by Hanna, the novel has poignant moments yet sparkles with humor, introducing a captivating heroine whose wry, observant voice will resonate with readers.
A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park
A Long Walk to Water begins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about two eleven-year-olds in Sudan, a girl in 2008 and a boy in 1985. The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is two hours’ walk from her home: she makes two trips to the pond every day. The boy, Salva, becomes one of the “lost boys” of Sudan, refugees who cover the African continent on foot as they search for their families and for a safe place to stay. Enduring every hardship from loneliness to attack by armed rebels to contact with killer lions and crocodiles, Salva is a survivor, and his story goes on to intersect with Nya’s in an astonishing and moving way. Includes an afterword by author Linda Sue Park and the real-life Salva Dut, on whom the novel is based, and who went on to found Water for South Sudan.
Eyes That Kiss in the Corners by Joanna 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.
Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin
In a brightly colored board book, perfect for the youngest child, Newbery Honoree Grace Lin tells the tale of a Chinese American family as they prepare for the Lunar New Year. Each family member lends a hand as they sweep out the dust of the old year, hang decorations, and make dumplings. Then it’s time to celebrate. There will be fireworks and lion dancers, shining lanterns, and a great, long dragon parade at the end!
Amy Wu and the Patchwork Dragon by Kat Zhang
Amy loves craft time at school. But when her teacher asks everyone to make their own dragon, Amy feels stuck. Her first dragon has a long, wingless body, stag-like horns, and eagle claws, but her friends don’t think it’s a real dragon. Then she makes dragons like theirs, but none of them feels quite right…None of them feels like hers. After school, a story from Grandma sparks new inspiration, and Amy rounds up her family to help her. Together, can they make Amy’s perfect dragon?
Alvin Ho #2: Allergic to Camping, Hiking, and Other Natural Disasters by Lenore Look
Alvin, an Asian American second grader who’s afraid of everything, is back, and his worst fear has come true: he has to go camping. What will he do exposed in the wilderness with bears and darkness and . . . pit toilets? Luckily, he’s got his night-vision goggles and water purifying tablets and super-duper heavy-duty flashlight to keep him safe. And he’s got his dad, too.
Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly
Winner of the Newbery Medal
In one day, four lives weave together in unexpected ways. They aren’t friends, at least not until Chet pulls a prank that traps Virgil and his pet guinea pig at the bottom of a well. This disaster leads Kaori, Gen, and Valencia on an epic quest to find missing Virgil. Through luck, smarts, bravery, and a little help from the universe, a rescue is performed, a bully is put in his place, and friendship blooms.
Ohana Means Family by Ilima Loomis
Join the family, or ohana, as they farm taro for poi to prepare for a traditional luau celebration with a poetic text in the style of The House That Jack Built.
Is there a book or author that you’d like to see added to our list? Send your book recommendations to firstname.lastname@example.org.