Every May, we recognize, celebrate, and pay tribute to the contributions generations of Asians and Pacific Islanders have made (and continue to make) that contribute to the history, culture, and success of the United States. With that in mind, here are some picture books that speak to the Asian and Pacific Islander experience.
Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix by Jacqueline Briggs - Through vibrant illustrations and breezy text, young readers and future chefs can experience the food truck revolution that Chef Choi is famous for.
The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi - Unhei has left her Korean village to come to America. As she rides the bus to school, she remembers how her grandmother gave her a special gift - a woodblock with her name carved into it. Will her new friends know and understand how beautiful and special her name is? This book is a touching commentary on the struggles of assimilation and the uniqueness and beauty in a name. Drawn from the author’s own experience.
Eyes That Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho - This poetic, stunning book reaffirms a young Chinese girl’s love of her eyes, their shape, her spirit and her family’s legacy. This book is easily one of the best books of the year. The illustrations are warm and engaging and the text is lyrical and beautiful - a testament to family and respect and love for one’s heritage.
Ohana Means Family by Ilima Loomis - Join this family as they prepare to celebrate a traditional luau—an engaging celebration of Hawaiian land and culture.
Home is In Between by Mitali Perkins - Shanti misses everything about India. As she begins to adjust to her new home in America, she realizes she has traditions and memories that allow her to assimilate to her new environment and retain her culture and heritage.
Drawn Together by Dan Santant - This almost wordless picture book explores the bond between a Thai boy and his Grandfather.
Magic Ramen: The Story of Momofuku Ando by Andrea Wang - I shared this picture book with my class, and they loved it. They loved hearing about how Mr. Ando invented Top Ramen and Cup Noodles.
My Day With Gong Gong by Sennah Yee - May is NOT enjoying her day with Grandpa. All he wants to do is watch wrestling and walk around town, completing errands. To make matters worse, May doesn’t understand Chinese. Can it get any worse? A sweet tale about a little girl and her grandfather proves you don’t need to speak the same language to connect and understand each other.