Get book recommendations, tips & advice, and more tailored to your child's age.

Thank You!

The perfect book picks are on their way.

You're all set!

All Ages

20 Children’s & YA Books Written by Asian Authors

by Charnaie Gordon

kids-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 provides us with 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 you want to read?

  • Bringing In the New Year

    by Grace Lin

    Also available from:

    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)

    Also available from:
  • The Paper Kingdom

    by Helena Ku Rhee, illustrated by Pascal Campion

    Also available from:

    Kids with big imaginations will appreciate this fantastical story about a young boy learning to see the magic in everyday situations. When David goes with his parents to their overnight jobs as janitors, he expects a long, boring night. But Mama and Papa show him that even an empty office can be a place where imagination roams free.
    (Ages 3 - 7)

    Also available from:
  • The Name Jar

    by Yangsook Choi

    Also available from:

    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)

    Also available from:
  • No Kimchi For Me!

    by Aram Kim

    Also available from:

    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 particularly picky about the texture and look of some meats. But aren’t we all a little finicky 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)

    Also available from:
  • My First Day

    by Phùng Nguyên Quang, illustrated by Huỳnh Kim Liên

    Also available from:

    Children curious about kids around the world will love this magical book about a young Vietnamese boy going to school. This picture book will transport young readers to the other side of the world as they row down the Mekong Delta and dodge perils along the way.
    (Ages 4 - 8)

    Also available from:
  • Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas

    by Natasha Yim, illustrated by Grace Zong

    Also available from:

    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)

    Also available from:
  • The Ocean Calls

    by Tina Cho, illustrated by Jess X. Snow

    Also available from:

    Dayeon’s grandma is a haenyeo (a Korean free diver) who is strong, intelligent, and fearless. It’s no wonder that Dayeon wants to follow in her footsteps. But before she can conquer the ocean, she will have to overcome her fear of the water. This heartfelt story is about traditions, family bonds, and facing our fears.
    (Ages 5 - 8)

    Also available from:
  • Crouching Tiger

    by Ying Chang Compestine

    Also available from:

    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)

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

    by Lenore Look, illustrated by Leuyen Pham

    Also available from:

    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)

    Also available from:
  • When You Trap a Tiger

    by Tae Keller

    Also available from:

    Korean folktales, family secrets, magic, and unpredictable bargains combine into an exciting and uplifting story for young readers. A tiger offers Lily the deal of a lifetime — her grandmother’s health in exchange for something she stole long ago. But the bargain isn’t as simple as it sounds, and Lily will have to find the strength to save her family from the tiger’s grasp.
    (Ages 8 - 12)

    Also available from:
  • Stand Up, Yumi Chang

    by Jessica Kim

    Also available from:

    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)

    Also available from:
  • Any Day With You

    by Mae Respicio

    Also available from:

    When her beloved great-grandfather decides to return to his home in the Philippines, Kaia thinks winning a movie-making contest will convince him to stay in California. Kids that enjoy realistic fiction will love this warm tale of family, folklore, and filmmaking.
    (Ages 8 - 12)

    Also available from:
  • Kudo Kids: Mystery in Manhattan

    by Alex Shibutani, Maia Shibutani, and Michelle Schusterman, illustrated by Yaoyao Ma Van As

    Also available from:

    On a trip to New York City, a missing dress from a fashion collection sends Andy and Mika on a mission through Manhattan. The kids must follow the clues and find the dress while exploring the most exciting city in the world. Young mystery fans will love reading the second installment in the Kudo Kids series by Maia and Alex Shibutani, the first duo of Asian descent to win Olympic medals in ice dancing.
    (Ages 8 - 12)

    Also available from:
  • Soul Lantern

    by Shaw Kuski

    Also available from:

    Originally published in Japan, this impactful middle grade novel offers a fresh historical perspective on the aftermath of WWII. Set in Hiroshima in the 1970s, the story follows three children who decide to base their school art project on the effects of the 1945 bombing of their city. In gathering stories of the past, the kids find that WWII left deep scars on their community, marks still felt even a quarter-century later.
    (Ages 10+)

    Also available from:
  • Count Me In

    by Varsha Bajaj

    Also available from:

    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 use social media to make a difference, tagging her posts with #CountMeIn. While Karina is happy when her first #CountMeIn post goes viral, she quickly realizes that the media is relentless, badgering her family until they agree to give an interview about the brutal attack. This book shows how good people come together and help each other overcome hate and stand up for what’s right.
    (Ages 10+)

    Also available from:
  • Luck of the Titanic

    by Stacey Lee

    Also available from:

    Valora dreams of a new life in America as a circus acrobat in New York City. When she’s denied entrance to the Titanic, she stows away and manages to secure first-class accommodations on the ship. But when the luxury ocean liner meets its doom, survival becomes Val's top priority. If you love all things Titanic, pick up a copy of this historical novel!
    (Young Adult)

    Also available from:
  • Frankly in Love

    by David Yoon

    Also available from:

    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 has it all figured out. But the more time he spends with Joy, the more 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 ever asked, "What if?".
    (Young Adult)

    Also available from:
  • Six Crimson Cranes

    by Elizabeth Lim

    Also available from:

    If you loved Spin the Dawn, you won’t want to miss out on Elizabeth Lim’s next novel. It’s a breathtaking fairy tale about a princess named Shiori trying to break the curse on her brothers and stop a sinister conspiracy threatening her kingdom. Filled with magic, romance, and peril, this fast-paced YA fantasy is a must-read!
    (Young Adult)

    Also available from:
  • My So-Called Bollywood Life

    by Nisha Sharma

    Also available from:

    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 tale teens are sure to breeze through.
    (Young Adult)

    Also available from:
  • From Little Tokyo, With Love

    by Sarah Kuhn

    Also available from:

    This novel is a modern fairy tale about a girl with anger issues trying to find acceptance from her family and herself. It’s a love letter to Los Angeles and young people everywhere who feel like they don’t fit in. If you’re in the mood for a contemporary YA romance, this is a fantastic choice.
    (Young Adult)

    Also available from:

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2020 and updated in 2021.