Generations of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have contributed to the history, society, and culture of the United States in vital ways. Their achievements are recognized each May as a part of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month.
We invite you to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month this year by picking up one—or more!—of the titles below. These are books we love to read in our Little New-Yorkers story time and Reading into History family book club programs.
PICTURE BOOKS (recommended for ages 7 and under)
Cora Cooks Pancit by Dorina Lazo Gilmore-Young, illustrated by Kristi Valiant
Cora loves being in the kitchen with Mama. One day, when her older siblings are away, Cora graduates from doing the little-kid jobs (like licking the spoon) to being Mama’s assistant chef! Together, they decide to make pancit, Cora’s favorite Filipino noodle dish.
This story showcases a warm mother and daughter relationship and provides a glimpse into Filipino food culture.
No Kimchi for Me! by Aram Kim
It’s stinky! It’s spicy! Yoomi hates kimchi, a Korean pickled cabbage condiment, but she’s determined to eat it. She tries it on a cookie, on pizza, and even ice cream but still hates it. Then Grandma steps in and teaches Yoomi a different way to eat kimchi, by making delicious kimchi pancakes!
This story is a celebration of Korean culture that also highlights universal themes about family and food.
Grandpa Grumps by Katrina Moore, illustrated by Xindi Yan
Daisy’s Yeh-Yeh (grandpa) is visiting from China! She can’t wait to meet him and is excited about all the fun they’re going to have together. But, when Yeh-Yeh arrives, he’s not exactly how she imagined him. Will Daisy be able to get Yeh-Yeh past his grumpiness?
This cute and funny story speaks to overcoming cultural differences and making a connection across generations.
Same, Same But Different by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw
Elliot lives in America, Kailash lives in India, and they’re pen pals. They exchange letters and pictures and discover that they both go to school, have pets, love to climb trees, and more.
This vivid and colorfully illustrated story shows how two kids living thousands of miles apart—in worlds that look very different on the outside, but are very similar underneath the surface—can be the best of friends.
CHAPTER BOOKS (recommended for ages 8 and up)
Front Desk by Kelly Yang
Ten-year-old Mia Tang manages the front desk of a motel in California and also lives in the motel. Her parents, recent immigrants from China, work long hours cleaning rooms and dealing with a seemingly endless parade of problems to make a life for themselves in their adopted country. Despite the appearance of bullies and brushes with financial ruin, this immigrant family’s story is full of humor and a lot of heart.
Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park
Hanna, half-white and half-Chinese, is determined to fit in. She wants to get an education, make at least one friend, and become a dressmaker in her father’s shop—not the easiest things to do in a small town in Midwest America, especially in 1880. Follow along as Hanna negotiates the numerous prejudices held against Asians in her new surroundings.
Join us at our next Reading into History Family Book Club on Sunday, May 16 at 2 pm ET to discuss the Prairie Lotus with other families, explore related objects and documents, and meet Cynthia Lee, assistant curator for Chinese American: Exclusion/Inclusion (exhibited at the New-York Historical Society in 2014).
Fighting for Justice: Fred Korematsu Speaks Up by Laura Atkins and Stan Yogi, illustrated by Yutaka Houlette
Fred Korematsu was the U.S.-born son of Japanese immigrant parents. He was also a civil rights activist who famously objected to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Written in verse and filled with photos, primary documents, and illustrations, this book tells Fred’s story in a powerful yet poignant way.
This is Just a Test by Wendy Wan-Long Shang and Madelyn Rosenberg
David Da-Wei Horowitz is hard at work preparing for his upcoming bar mitzvah, a trivia tournament, and the possibility of nuclear fallout. It’s the 1980s in Virginia, and David finds himself caught between his Jewish and Chinese cultures, the expectations of his friends and teammates, and his bickering grandmothers. This heartwarming coming-of-age story is filled with laugh-out-loud moments.