Looking for the best Asian American picture books for kids? Check out these fiction and non-fiction Asian American picture books for kids. These books and lesson plans are full of activities and ideas to teach these mentor texts. Books just for fun and others to inform for Kinderarten, first, second, third, fourth or fifth grade. These books for kids Kindergarten through upper elementary are perfect for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month! Books about immigrants, Asian traditions, folktales and fairy tales, and ones that feature Asian characters.
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Eyes That Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho
In this story, a young Asian girl longs to have eyes like her classmates: round, brightly-colored with long lashes. She sees, though, that her eyes are like those of her mother, grandmother and sister. Recognizing this, she sees the beautiy and power of her eyes and her heritage. Here eyes aren’t round. Her eyes kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea. This book is a must read diverse picture book especially when studying identity and loving you for who you are.
Paper Son by Julie Leung
Before he became an artist named Tyrus Wong, he was a boy named Wong Geng Yeo. He traveled across a vast ocean from China to America with only a suitcase and a few papers. Not papers for drawing–which he loved to do–but immigration papers to start a new life. Once in America, Tyrus seized every opportunity to make art, eventually enrolling at an art institute in Los Angeles. Working as a janitor at night, his mop twirled like a paintbrush in his hands. Eventually, he was given the opportunity of a lifetime–and using sparse brushstrokes and soft watercolors, Tyrus created the iconic backgrounds of Bambi.
A Different Pond by Bao Phi
A Different Pond is an unforgettable story about a simple event – a long-ago fishing trip. Graphic novelist Thi Bui and acclaimed poet Bao Phi deliver a powerful, honest glimpse into a relationship between father and son – and between cultures, old and new. As a young boy, Bao and his father awoke early, hours before his father’s long workday began, to fish on the shores of a small pond in Minneapolis. Unlike many other anglers, Bao and his father fished for food, not recreation. A successful catch meant a fed family. Between hope-filled casts, Bao’s father told him about a different pond in their homeland of Vietnam. This is also a favorite book of mine for studying refugees!
Lift by Minh Le
Iris loves to push the elevator buttons in her apartment building, but when it’s time to share the fun with a new member of the family, she’s pretty put out. That is, until the sudden appearance of a mysterious new button opens up entire realms of possibility, places where she can escape and explore on her own. But when she’s forced to choose between going at it alone or letting her little brother tag along, Iris finds that sharing a discovery with the people you love can be the most wonderful experience of all.
Drawn Together by Minh Le
When a young boy visits his grandfather, their lack of a common language leads to confusion, frustration, and silence. But as they sit down to draw together, something magical happens-with a shared love of art and storytelling, the two form a bond that goes beyond words. This book would also be excellent for reading during Grandparents Day.
Ruby’s Wish by Shirin Yim Brig
Ruby is unlike most little girls in old China. Instead of aspiring to get married, Ruby is determined to attend university when she grows up, just like the boys in her family. Based upon the inspirational story of the author’s grandmother and accompanied by richly detailed illustrations, Ruby’s Wish is an engaging portrait of a young girl who’s full of ambition and the family who rewards her hard work and courage. The focus on women’s rights also make this a favorite book for reading during Women’s History Month!
Lon Po Po by Ed Young
With characteristic flair and energy, award-winning artist Ed Young illustrates the ancient Chinese version of the favorite fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood. Young’s vibrant, yet delicate, pastels and watercolors add drama to the deftly translated story. The cultural piece of this story true to traditional storytelling also make it a favorite fairytale book.
The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
Being the new kid in school is hard enough, but what about when nobody can pronounce your name? Having just moved from Korea, Unhei is anxious that American kids will like her. So instead of introducing herself on the first day of school, she tells the class that she will choose a name by the following week. Her new classmates are fascinated by this no-name girl and decide to help out by filling a glass jar with names for her to pick from. But while Unhei practices being a Suzy, Laura, or Amanda, one of her classmates comes to her neighborhood and discovers her real name and its special meaning. On the day of her name choosing, the name jar has mysteriously disappeared. Encouraged by her new friends, Unhei chooses her own Korean name and helps everyone pronounce it—Yoon-Hey.
My Name is Yoon by Helen Recorvits
Yoon’s name means Shining Wisdom, and when she writes it in Korean, it looks happy, like dancing figures. But her father tells her that she must learn to write it in English. In English, all the lines and circles stand alone, which is just how Yoon feels in the United States. Yoon isn’t sure that she wants to be YOON. At her new school, she tries out different names – maybe CAT or BIRD. Maybe CUPCAKE!
A Big Mooncake For Little Star by Grace Lin
Pat, pat, pat…
Little Star’s soft feet tiptoed to the Big Mooncake. Little Star loves the delicious Mooncake that she bakes with her mama. But she’s not supposed to eat any yet! What happens when she can’t resist a nibble? This story weaves both a cultural tradition with the phases of the moon.
Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say
Lyrical, breathtaking, splendid—words used to describe Allen Say’s Grandfather’s Journey when it was first published. At once deeply personal yet expressing universally held emotions, this tale of one man’s love for two countries and his constant desire to be in both places captured readers’ attention and hearts. Fifteen years later, it remains as historically relevant and emotionally engaging as ever.
Ocean Meets Sky by The Fan Brothers
It’s a good day for sailing.
Finn lives by the sea and the sea lives by him. Every time he looks out his window, it’s a constant reminder of the stories his grandfather told him about the place where the ocean meets the sky. Where whales and jellyfish soar and birds and castles float. Finn’s grandfather is gone now, but Finn knows the perfect way to honor him. He’ll build his own ship and sail out to find this magical place himself!
And when he arrives, maybe, just maybe, he’ll find something he didn’t know he was looking for.
Best Asian American Picture Books For Kids
What are some of your favorite Asian American picture books for kids? Are there any must read Asian American picture books for kids that I left out? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll add it!