Books by Theme

Asian Pacific American Family Stories

A Jar of Dreams

A Jar of Dreams

By: Yoshiko Uchida
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fiction
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

"I never thought one small lady from Japan could make such a big difference in my life, but she did." So begins Rinko's story about the time that Aunt Waka came to visit. From Mama's new business to Papa's new courage in standing up to Depression-era discrimination against the Japanese, Rinko can barely keep up with the way that everyone in the house (herself included) is changing. Rinko and her relatives are unforgettable characters whose stories are told with an easy familiarity, warmth, and gentle humor.

A Morning with Grandpa

A Morning with Grandpa

By: Sylvia Liu
Illustrated by: Christina Forshay
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Mei Mei and her grandfather do tai chi together in Gong Gong’s backyard. Gong Gong even tries to learn a bit of yoga with Mei Mei. The warm relationship between adult and child is evident in expressive, sometimes humorous illustration and playful text. A guide to basic tai chi and yoga moves concludes the book.

Apple Pie 4th of July

Apple Pie 4th of July

By: Janet Wong
Illustrated by: Margaret Chodos-Irvine
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

"No one wants to eat Chinese food on the Fourth of July," says a young girl to her parents who insist on keeping their Chinese restaurant open on Independence Day. An honest portrayal of the tug between traditions old and new, as well as what it really means to be American.

Auntie Yang's Great Soybean Picnic

Auntie Yang's Great Soybean Picnic

By: Ginnie Lo
Illustrated by: Beth Lo
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

While on a visit to her aunt and uncle in Illinois, the narrator and her family unexpectedly find a field of growing soybeans which begins a 40-year tradition. Based on the author's experiences, text and child-like illustrations reveal a caring, surprisingly modern family story from times past.

Big Jimmy's Kum Kau Chinese Take Out

Big Jimmy's Kum Kau Chinese Take Out

By: Ted Lewin
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

After a busy day at his family’s Chinese take-out restaurant in Brooklyn, the young narrator enjoys his favorite dinner: pizza! Lewin’s highly realistic watercolor illustrations show the bustle, the food, and the way the boy works with his family.

Brother’s Keeper

Brother’s Keeper

By: Julie Lee
Genre: Historical Fiction
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

With war looming on the horizon and winter setting in, can two children escape North Korea on their own? The story of a determined and brave twelve-year-old Sora as she leadsher eight-year-old brother on a dangerous journey to freedom. Inspired by the author's mother and her own experiences, this story is about an ordinary family facing great hardship, and the complicated relationships between mothers and daughters, brothers and sisters, fathers and sons.

Cora Cooks Pancit

Cora Cooks Pancit

By: Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore
Illustrated by: Kristi Valiant
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Cora wants to learn how to cook, but she's too young to do the jobs her older siblings do. One day, however, after the older kids have all gone out together, Cora asks her mother what they can cook together. To her surprise, Cora's mother asks her what she would like to make, and Cora chooses her favorite Filipino noodle dish, pancit. This family story about the importance of sharing tradition is brought to life by Kristi Valiant's charming illustrations and includes a bilingual glossary of Tagalog words.

Crouching Tiger

Crouching Tiger

By: Ying Chang Compestine
Illustrated by: Yan Nascimbene
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

When Vinson's grandfather visits from China, the boy has conflicting feelings about his grandfather's old ways. A visit to Chinatown to experience the lion dancers celebrate the Chinese New Year bring Ming Da (Vinson) and his grandfather closer. Watercolor and ink illustrations add power to the warm, plausible story.

Dear Juno

Dear Juno

By: Soyoung Pak
Illustrated by: Susan Kathleen Hartung
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Juno can barely wait to open the letter that has arrived from his grandmother in Seoul, but he needs his parents to read it since it's written in Korean! Finally he decides he can wait no longer and he finds inside a leaf and a photo of a cat. Juno responds by drawing pictures for his grandmother, and when she sends him a pack of colored pencils, he knows she would like more of his letters. This quiet, beautiful story celebrates the joy of exchanging letters with a loved one and the importance of maintaining strong family ties no matter the distance.

Drawn Together

Drawn Together

By: Minh Lê
Illustrated by: Dan Santat
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A child visits his grandfather but has trouble communicating; they literally don’t speak the other’s language. That is until they find another way to share thoughts and feelings through art. As each of them expresses himself creating unique superheroes, two generations are drawn together. Universal emotions are placed in a specific but nonetheless moving context.

Dream On, Amber

Dream On, Amber

By: Emma Shevah
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Amber Alessandra Leola Kimiko Miyamoto is getting ready to start middle school and she’s worried. Imaginative and real, Amber — half Japanese, half Italian is read with authenticity to punctuate her mixed heritage and family concerns shared by many 9 to 12 year olds.

Eyes that Kiss in the Corners

Eyes that Kiss in the Corners

By: Joanna Ho
Illustrated by: Dung Ho
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

The narrator describes her eyes and those of her family as “eyes that kiss in the corner and glow like warm tea.” Poetic language and handsome illustrations evoke Asian art and culture create an affirming portrait of a family and their heritage, to be enjoyed by all cultures.

Going Home, Coming Home/ Ve Nha, Tham Que Huong

Going Home, Coming Home/ Ve Nha, Tham Que Huong

By: Truong Tran
Illustrated by: Ann Phong
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

American born Ami Chi is traveling to Vietnam, where the streets are crowded with scooters and the fruit are shaped like dragons and stars. Her parents still consider Vietnam home. But how can home be a place you’ve never been? She finds her answer in the green rice paddies that blanket the countryside, in the bustling Cho Lon market, and in the quiet rooms of her grandmother’s house. Vietnam may be nothing like America, but it feels strangely familiar. Before long, Ami Chi finds that you can travel very far and still find yourself at home.

Grandfather's Journey

Grandfather's Journey

By: Allen Say
Genre: Biography, Nonfiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Say narrates the saga of his grandfather who as a young man travels to the United States in the early 20th century, marries, and returns to Japan. Watercolor portraits of people and places glimpse the contrast of cultures and parallel the lives of grandfather and grandson. It could lead to a discovery of family histories. Country of origin: Japan

Grandma Calls Me Beautiful

Grandma Calls Me Beautiful

By: Barbara M. Joosse
Illustrated by: Barbara Lavallee
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Grandparents and grandchildren share something special everywhere. Here the universal story of a grandmother and her granddaughter is made unique as it reflects their Hawaiian life and style.

Hot, Hot, Roti for Dada-ji

Hot, Hot, Roti for Dada-ji

By: F. Zia
Illustrated by: Ken Min
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Aneel's active grandparents bring stories, special foods, and fun with them from India.

How My Parents Learned to Eat

How My Parents Learned to Eat

By: Ina Friedman
Illustrated by: Allen Say
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

When an American sailor meets a Japanese woman, they both try in secret to learn the other's way of eating. Their courtship and growing love culminates in marriage. This realistic family story explores cultural similarities and differences and is told with humor and honesty by the couple's daughter.

Hush! A Thai Lullaby

Hush! A Thai Lullaby

By: Minfong Ho
Illustrated by: Holly Meade
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

A loving mother asks animals from a water buffalo to a lizard to "hush" so her baby can sleep. Once the noises stop, the mother herself sleeps — and the baby is now awake! Textured illustrations evoke the Thai setting and convey the understated humor of this unique bedtime book.

In the Leaves

In the Leaves

By: Huy Voun Lee
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

On a beautiful autumn morning, Xiao Ming, his mom and his friends visit a farm. As they explore the season and the location, Xiao Ming introduces his friends to several Chinese characters. Textured cut paper collage extend the story and the learning.

Jasmine Toguchi: Mochi Queen

Jasmine Toguchi: Mochi Queen

By: Debbi Michiko Florence
Illustrated by: Elizabet Vukovic
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Jasmine is only 8 years old but wants to do what the boys do. It’s her family Japanese tradition for the boys to pound the rice for mocha at her family’s New Year’s celebration. But can she really handle it? Readers of all backgrounds will empathize with Jasmine’s dilemma and see themselves in her. 

Juna and Appa

Juna and Appa

By: Jane Park
Illustrated by: Felicia Hoshino
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

A tender ode to fathers and to the many families working behind shop counters. Juna enjoys helping her father (her Appa) in their dry-cleaning shop on Saturdays. It's their special time together. One day Juna sees a customer yelling at Appa about a lost jacket. Juna has never seen her father look so worried and becomes determined to help. She sets off on a magical journey in search of the jacket, and along the way meets remarkable animals that show her the different ways that fathers care for their young.

 

Kira-Kira

Kira-Kira

By: Cynthia Kadohata
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fiction
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

This tender novel describes a loving Japanese-American family from the point of view of the younger sister. Personal challenges and family tragedy, particularly the older sister's struggle with lymphoma, are set against the oppressive social climate of the South during the 1950s and early 1960s. (2005 Newbery Medal Winner)

Kite Flying

Kite Flying

By: Grace Lin
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

The young narrator describes how she and her family each contribute to a handsome kite which they then enjoy flying. Signature illustrations show traditional Chinese kite designs combined with an author's note about kite history. The result is the celebration of an ebullient family tradition that readers may want to take up themselves!

Maggie’s Chopsticks

Maggie’s Chopsticks

By: Alan Woo
Illustrated by: Isabelle Malenfant
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Poor Maggie struggles to master her chopsticks — it seems nearly everyone around the dinner table has something to say about the "right" way to hold them! But when Father reminds her not to worry about everyone else, Maggie finally gets a grip on an important lesson.

Measuring Up book cover

Measuring Up

By: Lily LaMotte
Illustrated by: Ann Xu
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Can winning a cooking contest allow 12-year-old Cici to bring her Taiwanese grandmother to the U.S. for her 70th birthday? Will it interfere with her parents’ inviolable motto of “good grades, good college, good job”? Readers are sure to see themselves and their families in this engaging graphic portrait of an immigrant family and an aspiring chef who is bridging two cultures.

Mommy’s Hometown

Mommy’s Hometown

By: Hope Lim
Illustrated by: Jaime Kim
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

When a young boy and his mother travel overseas to her childhood home in Korea, the town is not as he imagined. The boy feels like an outsider — until they visit the river where his mother used to play, and he sees that the spirit and happiness of those days remain. Told through a child’s-eye view, the story honors the immigrant experience and the timeless bond between parent and child, past and present.

My Freedom Trip

My Freedom Trip

By: Ginger Park, Frances Park
Illustrated by: Leonard Jenkins
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

To escape the coming conflict, young Soo leaves North Korea without her mother. Though her mother plans to join Soo and her father, the Korean War begins and Soo has only memories of her mother’s bravery. Darkly hued illustrations combine with the lyrical narrative in this story based on the authors’ own family.

Nori book cover

Nori

By: Rumi Hara
Genre: Fairytales, Folk Tales, and Tall Tales, Myths and Legends, Fiction, Fantasy
Age Level: Teen
Reading Level: Independent Reader

The relationship between mischievous three-year-old Nori and her grandmother shines through these pages in rich detail, full of humor, feeling, and a sense of family history and tradition. Beautifully drawn locations in Japan and Hawaii immerse the reader in their world, populated by grinning bats, leaping rabbits, a taste of Mochi — and the wonder and curiosity of childhood. The story weaves in East Asian folklore and Japanese culture, through the legends her grandmother shares.

Ocean's Child

Ocean's Child

By: Christine Ford, Trish Holland
Illustrated by: David Diaz
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

As an Inuit mother and her child paddle home in their boat, they notice other animal mothers and their children preparing for sleep. Attractive, stylized illustrations evoke the Arctic setting as mothers and their young prepare to rest.

Punky Aloha

Punky Aloha

By: Shar Tuiasoa
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Punky Aloha is a Polynesian girl who carries her culture in her heart and in everything she does. Punky loves to do a lot of things — except meeting new friends. She doesn’t feel brave enough. So when her grandmother asks her to go out and grab butter for her famous banana bread, Punky hesitates. But with the help of her grandmother’s magical sunglasses, and with a lot of aloha in her heart, Punky sets off on a big adventure for the very first time.

Red Kite, Blue Kite

Red Kite, Blue Kite

By: Ji-li Jiang
Illustrated by: Greg Ruth
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Tai Shan and his father fly kites from "the tippy-top of our triangle roof" where they are free like the kites. Tai Shan's is small, nimble, and red while Baba's is a strong, large blue kite. The widow and his son are separated during China's Cultural Revolution though are ultimately reunited. A difficult period is touchingly presented while remaining child-friendly.

Sona and the Wedding Game

Sona and the Wedding Game

By: Kashmira Sheth
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Sona’s grandparents travel to America from India for the wedding of Sona’s sister. The Hindu wedding traditions are followed including the game in which the younger sibling hides the groom’s shoes. Richly hued illustrations depict the activities and the fun of a family celebration. 

Stargazing

Stargazing

By: Jen Wang
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Can very different girls become best friends? Though both are Chinese-American, Moon and Christine are very different. Christine is cautious, serious, attends Chinese school, and follows rules. In spite of this, Christine and Moon become best friends. Christine wonders if she was a good enough friend when it is discovered that Moon’s celestial visions are caused by an all-too-real problem. Simple cartoon illustrations in full color are expressive and move this notable story to its gratifying conclusion. A note from the author/illustrator reveals the story’s genesis.

Step Up to the Plate, Maria Singh

Step Up to the Plate, Maria Singh

By: Uma Krishnaswami
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fiction
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Fifth-grade Maria and her younger brother live with their parents on a farm in Yuba City, California near the end of World War II. Their father is from India, their mother from Mexico. Maria loves to play baseball and is encouraged by her teacher but confronts other problems. Will their field be destroyed? Will the family lose their home? Both humorous and poignant, readers will gain a sense of the period and many of the issues that feel very contemporary. 

Sweet Dried Apples: A Vietnamese Wartime Childhood

Sweet Dried Apples: A Vietnamese Wartime Childhood

By: Rosemary Breckler
Illustrated by: Deborah Kogan Ray
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

In wartime Vietnam, a young girl helps her grandfather who is an herbalist. She and her younger brother gather and dry herbs under his supervision and while he is away. One day, the elderly man returns, announcing that the war is coming to their village. Grandfather ministers to its victims and yet he dies himself. The siblings and their mother flee by boat and the girl vows to return to honor her beloved relative. [School Library Journal review]

The Falling Flowers

The Falling Flowers

By: Jennifer B. Reed
Illustrated by: Henry Cole
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Grandmother has a surprise for Mayumie — is it a visit to the zoo, a museum, or the big city? When they finally reach their destination, Mayumie understands what makes visiting a cherry blossom grove so special: the beautiful pink flowers only bloom once a year! Readers will be enchanted by the magic of the story and the illustrations that capture the stunning colors of the cherry blossom trees. An author's note provides historical details, as well as information on the cherry blossom trees in Washington, DC.

The Great Wall of Lucy Wu

The Great Wall of Lucy Wu

By: Wendy Wan-Long Shang
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

In this humorous and heartfelt story about a split cultural identity, nothing goes according to plan for sixth-grader Lucy Wu. She's ready to rule the school, go out for captain of the basketball team, and take over the bedroom she has always shared with her sister … until she finds out that Yi Po, her beloved grandmother's sister, is coming to visit and will be staying in Lucy's room. Lucy discovers that life often reveals silver linings in the most unexpected of clouds.

The House Baba Built: An Artist's Childhood in China

The House Baba Built: An Artist's Childhood in China

By: Ed Young
Genre: Biography, Nonfiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

With war approaching, Baba (the author's father) builds a sturdy home for his family in Shanghai. The family, their activities, and house unfold in stunning, varied art and lyrical language in an expansive format to reveal a glimpse of an historical time through the lens of one family.

The Walking Stick

The Walking Stick

By: Maxine Trottier
Illustrated by: Annouchka Gravel Galouchko
Genre: Fairytales, Folk Tales, and Tall Tales, Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Van, a young Vietnamese boy, is given a brass-tipped teak walking stick made by his uncle (a monk), who says that now the Buddha "will watch over you no matter where you go, and bring you safely home." Van carries the stick with him always, even when he and his family flee their war-torn country and cross the ocean. On long walks years later, he tells his granddaughter stories of his homeland. She travels to Vietnam and leaves the stick as an offering at the foot of a Buddha.

The Way Home Looks Now

The Way Home Looks Now

By: Wendy Wan-Long Shang
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Twelve-year-old Peter Lee and his family are baseball lovers, who bond over back lot games and talk of the Pittsburgh Pirates. But when tragedy strikes, the family flies apart and baseball no longer seems to matter. Is that true? Peter wonders if just maybe the game they love can pull them together and bring them back, safe at home.

Uncle Peter's Amazing Chinese Wedding

Uncle Peter's Amazing Chinese Wedding

By: Lenore Look
Illustrated by: Yumi Heo
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Jenny's favorite uncle, Uncle Peter, is getting married. Now Jenny won't be his only "special girl" any longer; she'll have to share him with Stella! But Peter's bride is as happy to have a new niece as she is beautiful and wins Jenny over. Child-like illustrations reflect the traditions and warmth of this Chinese American family.

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