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May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month! That means I can eat even more Asian food! Kidding aside, I wanted to create a list of chapter books that celebrate Asian Pacific American heritage. I’ve already created a list of APA Heritage picture books, so why not early and middle grade chapter books? These books run the gamut. They recall Asian Americans’ rocky past in the United States and celebrate how we’ve integrated our Asian traditions with our American culture.
Here’s some Asian American chapter books that we’re adding to our reading list.
The Shark King by Technically not a chapter book, but an exciting graphic novel geared towards young boys. Set in Hawaii, young Nanaue encounters sharks and superheroes. Perfect for beginning readers. Recommended for ages 4-8.
Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream by Jenny Han: Clara loves her best friends, her sister, her fancy Korean dress, and the Apple Blossom Festival. With her ever changing luck, will she be able to win the Little Miss Apple Pie pageant? Recommended for ages 8-12.
Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhhà Lại: This Newbery Honor and National Book Award winning book is told in verse from the eyes of a young girl named Hà. Inspired by the author’s childhood experience of fleeing Vietnam and immigrating to Alabama, this novel tells how Hà and her family escaped and how they adapted to their new lives. Recommended for ages 8-12.
Listen, Slowly by Thanhhà Lại: American born Mai is looking forward to summer vacation at the California’s beaches. Instead, she must travel to Vietnam with her grandmother, who is returning to find out what happened to her husband. Mai’s parents hope the trip will help her appreciate her Vietnamese heritage, but Mai sees the country as her parents’ roots–not her own. Recommended for ages 8-12.
The Earth Dragon Awakes: The San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 by Lauren Yep: Based on events of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, Yep tells the story from the perspectives of two young friends. The novel alternates between young Chinese immigrant Chin and Travis, an American banker’s son. Recommended for ages 8-12.
Pacy Lin Novels by Grace Lin: These three novels follow Taiwanese American Pacy Lin as she navigates school and her town and tries to find balance between her two cultures. Order of the books: The Year of of the Dog, The Year of the Rat, and Dumpling Days. Recommended for ages 8-12.
Stanford Wong Flunks Big-time by Lisa Yee: Stanford is in big trouble. If he doesn’t pass his summer school English class, he won’t pass sixth grade nor will he start the A-team. Can he pull it together through his parents fights and his grandmother’s nursing home move? Recommended for ages 8-12.
Project Mulberry by Linda Sue Park: Julia Soong’s mother suggests that she and her friend Patrick team up to raise silkworms in order to win a blue ribbon at the state fair. Julia thinks the project is too Korean and wants a real American project, but Patrick is thrilled. Recommended for ages 8-12.
Kimchi & Calamari by Rose Kent: Joseph Calderaro’s teacher has given him the difficult assignment to write an essay about his ancestors. Adopted into an Italian American family, all Joseph knows about his birth family is that he’s from Korea. Recommended for ages 8-12.
The Thing About Luck by Cynthia Kadohata: An emergency whisks Summer’s parents away to Japan right before the Midwest’s harvest season. She and her younger brother are left in the care of their grandparents, whom the children find old-fashioned and demanding. Recommended for ages 10-14.
Weedflower by Cynthia Kadohata: After Pearl Harbor is attacked, Sumiko and her family’s lives are thrown into chaos. Their family is forced to leave their flower farm in Southern California to live an internment camp in the Arizona desert. Recommended for ages 10-14.
Roots and Wings by Many Ly: Grace and her mother return to Cambodia in order to give her grandmother a proper burial. During the trip, Grace attempts to learn the identify of her father and why her grandmother left their country to live in Pennsylvania. Recommended for ages 12 and up.
What would you add to this list? I’d love some recommendations for books about East Asian American heritage (Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, etc).