All Ages

10 Children’s & YA Books Written by Asian Authors

by Charnaie Gordon

books by asian authors

Books can transport you anywhere at any given time — they offer us a perspective and experience that we may otherwise never know. Reading books about another person’s culture gives us a glimpse into someone else’s story. This is integral in encouraging open and accepting minds and hearts in adults and children alike.

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. It’s a time to recognize how Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans have contributed to and influenced the history, culture, and achievements of the United States. The month of May was chosen to commemorate the arrival of the first known Japanese immigrant to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. Up to 20,000 of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.

Teaching kids about different cultures helps them appreciate the differences in people and their traditions. It also helps them respect similarities, which will, in turn, help them understand who they are in the context of their own race, ethnic group, culture, religion, language, and familial history.

Below are a few books written by Asian authors to read this month with children of all ages. Spy any of your favorites?

  • Bringing In the New Year

    by Grace Lin

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    Grace Lin's beautiful story follows a Chinese American family as they prepare to celebrate the Lunar New Year. With gorgeous illustrations and a surprise fold-out page at the end of this story, this book introduces babies to the customs of Lunar New Year - from decorations and fireworks to dumpling making.

    (Ages 0 - 3)

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  • The Name Jar

    by Yangsook Choi

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    The Name Jar will help children understand how it feels to have people constantly mispronounce or make fun of your name. The book boasts great lessons about self-love and acceptance of others, as well as introduces readers to topics like having respect for other cultures and friendship. Overall, The Name Jar is a delightful story for preschoolers and young elementary students.

    (Ages 3 - 7)

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  • No Kimchi For Me!

    by Aram Kim

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    Do your children have any food aversions? When both of my kids were babies they ate practically anything I made for them. Now, as they’ve gotten older, they have become somewhat fussy about eating certain foods. My son tends to be particular picky about the texture and look of some meats. But aren’t we all a little picky sometimes? Besides, isn’t it normal for children to be fussy eaters? It’s a way of exploring their environment and asserting their independence. Little Yoomi illustrates this point very well in the book No Kimchi for Me! A simple recipe for making kimchi pancakes is included in the back matter.

    (Ages 3 - 7)

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  • Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas

    by Natasha Yim, illustrated by Grace Zong

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    In this adorable Chinese American retelling of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Goldy Luck accidentally wreaks havoc on the home of a family of panda bears. She eats up the littlest panda's rice porridge, breaks his rocking chair, and rumples all the blankets on his futon. I love this fun take on the original Goldilocks story and appreciate the fact that, in this retelling, Goldy helps to make things right in the end.

    (Ages 4 - 8)

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  • Crouching Tiger

    by Ying Chang Compestine

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    Vinson loves watching grandfather practice tai chi in the backyard, but he doesn’t fully understand the purpose of doing it each day. Eventually, his grandfather begins to teach him the basic movements of tai chi, but Vinson soon finds it is hard and requires a lot of patience. It isn’t until the New Year’s Eve parade that Vinson begins to understand his grandfather’s purpose and passion for tai chi and meditation.

    (Ages 6 - 8)

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  • Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things

    by Lenore Look, illustrated by Leuyen Pham

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    Alvin Ho is a quirky, second grade Chinese-American boy who struggles with anxiety on a daily basis. Alvin is scared of a lot of things — including elevators, talking in school, girls, and more. Throughout the book, Alvin learns to cope with his phobias and insecurities, overcome fears, and ultimately ends up growing as a person.

    (Ages 6 - 9)

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  • Stand Up, Yumi Chang

    by Jessica Kim

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    Stand Up, Yumi Chang is an engaging, and touching story of determination and staying true to yourself even if it’s not what others expect of you. Eleven-year-old Yumi’s dream is to become a stand-up comedian, but her Korean immigrant parents envision something entirely different for her future. As things start to unravel in her life, Yumi has to decide between standing up to face the music or risk losing her dream.

    (Ages 8 - 12)

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  • Count Me In

    by Varsha Bajaj

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    Count Me In tells the story of Karina Chopra, Chris Daniels, and Karina's grandfather (Papa) who falls victim to a racist assault. In turn, Karina decides to she use social media to make a difference. She begins tagging her posts with #CountMeIn. While Karina is happy when her first #CountMeIn post goes viral, she quickly realizes that the media is relentless, and they will not leave her family alone until they agree to give an interview about the brutal attack. This book shows how good people come together and help each other to overcome hate and to stand up for what’s right.

    (Ages 10+)

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  • Frankly in Love

    by David Yoon

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    To appease his Korean parents, who would never approve of his white girlfriend Brit Means, Frank Li begins fake dating family friend Joy Song. Frank is happy and thinks he's got it all figured out. But as he spends more time with Joy, he begins to question everything he thinks he knows about life and love. This YA read will tug at your heartstrings and appeal to anyone who's every asked "what if?".

    (Young Adult)

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  • My So-Called Bollywood Life

    by Nisha Sharma

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    Winnie is devastated when she returns from film camp to find that her boyfriend, Raj, has moved on. Especially because a pandit predicted she'd find the love of her life before her 18th birthday. When Winnie finds herself falling for Dev - a fellow film geek who challenges her to choose her own love story - does it mean giving up on the happily ever after she always imagined? A funny and heartfelt story teens are sure to breeze through.

    (Young Adult)

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