Books by Theme
A Piece of Home
When Hee Jun’s father accepts a position in West Virginia, everything changes for the boy and his family. His grandmother, a teacher in Korea, now stays at home; his little sister becomes a discipline problem at school; and Hee Jun does not understand English. With time, however, Hee Jun finds a friend whose yard contains a rose of Sharon, a “mugunghwa” in Korea. It is a piece of home. Gentle illustrations convey the characters’ emotions to enhance the story.
Angel Child, Dragon Child
Ut has come to America, but her mother remains in Vietnam. Ut's struggle to adjust to her new life and her classmates don't accept her because she is different. Then she makes a new friend who presents Ut with a wonderful gift
Angel Island: Gateway to Gold Mountain
The East Coast had Ellis Island, comparable to the West Coast's Angel Island in the San Francisco Bay. There immigrants, primarily Chinese, entered the U.S. from about 1910 to 1940 where they stayed sometimes for long periods. Primary sources, both text and image, combine for a poignant portrait of the people and the period.
Dia’s Story Cloth: The Hmong People’s Journey to Freedom
Through a quiet text and a series of stunning images created from embroidered cloth, the author relates her family's often harrowing journey from China to Laos to Thailand, ultimately settling in the United States. An afterward provides additional history and ethnology.
Moon Shadow joins his father, traveling from China to San Francisco in the early 20th century. Together father and son confront harsh prejudice as well as kindness, and ultimately follow a dream to build a flying machine in this Newbery Honor novel.
Good-Bye, 382 Shin Dang Dong
"My heart beats in two places." So begins the tale of Jangmi, a young girl who is preparing to leave her home in Korea (382 Shin Dang Dong) for a new home in Massachusetts (112 Foster Terrace). Jangmi can't bear the thought of leaving her house, her favorite willow trea, the monsoon rains, and most of all, her best friend Kisuni. Jangmi's story and its hopeful conclusion will resonate with children who have left a beloved home or friend behind.
Forced to leave the turmoil and political unrest of their native Vietnam, 13-year old Mai and her family cram into a boat and make way for Hong Kong and ultimately to America. Mai's voice provides a necessary distance as she chronicles the journey and its horrors in with even tone.
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
Inside Out and Back Again
Inspired by the author's childhood experience as a refugee — fleeing Vietnam after the Fall of Saigon and immigrating to Alabama — this coming-of-age novel told in verse offers a child's-eye view of family and immigration.
Twelve-year old Mai is reluctant to travel with her grandmother from California to Vietnam to learn more about her roots and to help Ba, who is going back to find out what really happened to her husband during the Vietnam War. Mai struggles to understand the language and culture of her family's heritage in this poignant, often funny novel of being part of two cultures.
When North Vietnamese soldiers destroy the village of 12-year-old Kia, they almost destroy her family too, because her father disappears and the rest of them flee to a refugee camp. Eventually, Kia, her brother, and her grandfather immigrate to America, where she is overwhelmed by her new life, isolated by culture and language. [ALA Booklist review]
Luli and the Language of Tea
When five-year-old Luli joins her new English as a Second Language class, the playroom is quiet. Luli can’t speak English, neither can anyone else. That’s when she has a brilliant idea to host a tea party and bring them all together. Luli removes her teapot, thermos, and teacups from her bag and calls out “Chá!” in her native Chinese. One by one, her classmates pipe up in recognition: in Russian, Hindi, Turkish, Persian, Arabic, and Spanish, Portuguese, and Swahili. Tea is a tasty language they all know well, and it gives them a chance to share and enjoy each other’s company.
My Name Is Yoon
Yoon narrates the difficulty she experiences when her family moves to the United States from Korea. Her struggle with the transition focuses on the moment when she must learn to write her name in English rather than in Korean, and she remains resistant to learning a new language. Her imaginative voice is child-like and plausible, augmented by inventive illustrations.
Pie in the Sky
Jingwen feels more like he’s on Mars than in Australia when he, his younger brother Yanghao, and their mother relocate from China. English is a breeze for Yanghao but a struggle for Jingwen who hears it as just gibberish. Line and wash illustrations cleverly depict the language confusion as well as the brothers’ plausible relationship. Even with serious issues present (the boys’ father has died; their mother works long hours) this remarkable book is witty, engaging, and entirely credible.
A young immigrant from South Korea finds community and friendship in an apartment house filled with other newly arrived kids. When Jae looks out the window of his new home, he wishes he could still see his old village, his old house, and his old friends. Jae just arrived from South Korea and doesn't even speak the new language. Yet, he soon meets a girl with a colorful bird perched on her shoulder. Rosa knows just how Jae feels and the two become fast friends. Not only does Rosa show Jae his new neighborhood but she shows him how his imagination can bring back memories of his old home.
The Favorite Daughter
When a new teacher mispronounced Yuriko's name and kids laugh at the picture Yuriko shared in her kimono, Yuriko wants to change her name. Her father handles her unhappiness calmly and wisely. The story is autobiographical, incorporating a photograph of the real Yuriko as a young child and as a lovely young adult in a kimono.
The Name Jar
The new kid in school needs a new name! Or does she? 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.
Two Lands, One Heart: An American Boy’s Journey to His Mother’s Vietnam
In 1975 TJ's mother was only a chid when she escaped war-torn Vietnam and came to America. Almost 20 years later, she took her eldest son back to meet the family he had never known and to experence firsthand the country and the culture she left behind. A true-life story told in full-color photographs.
A child is embarrassed when parents stop the car to harvest wild watercress. Illustrations in sepia, however, show why this is such an emotional moment for the Chinese American family as it recalls an earlier time. Inspired text and stunningly detailed watercolors provide insight into one family’s history and a glimpse of their life before coming to the United States.
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