Books to Celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

My Bindi cover image
My Bindi
by Gita Varadarajan 
Interest level: P-3

In this universal story about embracing who we are and where we come from, a young girl finds the magic, power and history of wearing a bindi for the first time. Divya is scared to put on the bindi for the first time. What if she gets made fun of? What will it feel like? But Amma assures her that her bindi will bring protection. Author Gita Varadarajan crafts a powerful story about belonging, embracing your heritage, and believing in yourself. 

This is Not My Home cover image
This Is Not My Home
by Vivienne Chang and Eugenia Yoh
Interest level: P-3

When Lily's mom announces their family must move back to Taiwan to take care of her elderly Ah Ma, Lily is devastated to leave behind her whole life for a place that is most definitely not her home. But Lily soon realizes, through the help of her family and friends, what home means to them. 

A is For Asian American cover image
A Is For Asian American
by Virginia Loh-Hagan
Interest level: K-3

The fabric of America is made up of countless threads weaving together diverse backgrounds and cultures. Using poetry and expository text, this book celebrates the cultures of and contributions from Asian Americans throughout our country's history. Letter topics include traditions in food, family, and social celebrations, as well as key moments in history and milestone achievements. A is for Asian American illuminates the amazing and ongoing role the Asian American community has played in the shaping of America. 

From the Tops of the Trees cover image
From the Tops of the Trees
by Kao Kalia Yang
Interest level: K-3

Young Kalia has never known life beyond the fences of the Ban Vinai Refugee Camp. The Thai camp holds many thousands of Hmong families who fled in the aftermath of the little-known Secret War in Laos that was waged during America's Vietnam War. Just four years old, Kalia is still figuring out her place in the world. When she asks what is beyond the fence, at first her father has no answers for her. But on the following day, he leads her to the tallest tree in the camp and, secure in her father's arms, Kalia sees the spread of a world beyond. 

Jeet & Fudge Series image
Jeet & Fudge (Series)
by Amandeep S. Kochar
Interest level: K-3

Forever Friends
Jeet is new to town and a little lonely. To combat this, he and his mom volunteer at a local animal shelter. There, Jeet makes a new friend in a happy puppy, Fudge! Jeet's world is about to get a whole lot better.

Fun at the Waterpark
Jeet, his puppy Fudge, and their Dad are at the local waterpark to volunteer for the animal shelter adoption event. When they finish helping, it's time for some rides! But before they're able to take their turn, they'll need to learn the values of patience, compassion and self-control!

The Loving Library
Jeet and his puppy Fudge love to read books and wish they could make more friends, who also like to read. Inspired by another Sikh boy practicing his seva (his selfless act of kindness) by donating books to people in need, Jeet and Fudge set out with their Mom and Dad to also give back to their community. 

Yes We Will cover image
Yes We Will: Asian Americans Who Shaped This Country
by Kelly Yang
Interest level: K-3

From creating beautiful music like Yo-Yo Ma to flying to outer space like Franklin Chang-Diaz; from standing up to injustice like Fred Korematsu to becoming the first Asian American, Black and female vice president of the United States like Kamala Harris, this book illuminates the power of Asian Americans all over the country, in all sorts of fields. Yes We Will answers the question, can we accomplish whatever we dream? With love, courage, determination and lots of imagination, we can, and we will! 

The Nguyen Kids collection image
The Nguyen Kids (Series)
by Linda Trinh
Interest level: 1-4

The Power of the Pearl Earrings
Spontaneous and energetic Liz, the middle Nguyen sibling, grew up hearing stories from her Grandma Noi about the fantastically fierce Trung Sisters, freedom fighters in ancient Vietnam. Liz is determined that her taekwondo classes will prove she is just as important and brave as the famous warriors. Struggling with both her friendships and her place in her family, Liz finds help where she least expects it, in the pearl earrings her Grandma Noi left her as a gift.

The Secret of the Jade Bangle
Organized and introspective nine-year-old Anne Nguyen misses her Grandma Noi. But even though Grandma Noi passed away, it doesn’t mean she’s disappeared. When Anne and her younger siblings Jacob and Liz are given gifts passed on to them by Grandma, Anne soon realizes that hers, a beautiful jade bangle, has a secret power. One that might just give her the strength to stand up to her ballet teacher, who treats her differently than her white classmates.

The Mystery of the Painted Fan
Thoughtful and creative, Jacob is tired of being the baby of the family. He is ready to fully express himself in all of the ways that feel right to him, but not everyone seems as eager to accept change, even his own parents. He still loves hockey, yet he also wants to try something new, even if others may not understand. With his Grandma’s mysterious fan and memories of her guiding him, Jacob finds the power to remain true to himself.

American As Paneer Pie cover image
American As Paneer Pie
by Supriya Kelkar
Interest level: 3-7

As the only Indian American kid in her small town, Lekha Divekar feels like she has two versions of herself: Home Lekha, who loves watching Bollywood movies and eating Indian food, and School Lekha, who pins her hair over her bindi birthmark and avoids confrontation at all costs, especially when someone teases her for being Indian. When a racist incident rocks Lekha's community, Lekha realizes she must make a choice: continue to remain silent or find her voice before it's too late.

Maizy Chen's Last Chance
by Lisa Yee
Interest level: 3-7

Maizy has never been to Last Chance, Minnesota until now. Her mom's plan is just to stay for a couple of weeks, until her grandfather gets better. But plans change, and as Maizy spends more time in Last Chance – where she and her family are the only Asian Americans – and at the Golden Palace, the restaurant that's been in her family for generations, she makes some discoveries. For instance: You can tell a LOT about someone by the way they order food. And people can surprise you. Sometimes in good ways, sometimes in disappointing ways. 

by John Cho
Interest level: 3-7

Troublemaker follows the events of the LA Riots through the eyes of 12-year-old Jordan as he navigates school and family through his unique Korean American perspective. When he returns home from school one day hoping to hide his suspension, the country is at the precipice of confronting its racist past and present. As tensions escalate, Jordan's father leaves to check on the family store, spurring Jordan and his friends to embark on a dangerous journey to come to his aide and come to terms with the racism within and affecting their community.

We Are Here cover image
We Are Here: 30 Inspiring Asian Americans And Pacific Islanders Who Shaped The United States
by Naomi Hirahara and The Smithsonian Institute
Interest level: 3-7

A stunning anthology licensed in partnership with the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, We Are Here celebrates 30 of the most inspiring Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and their impact on the cultural, social and political fabric of the United States. There are more than 23 million people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent living in the United States. Their stories span across generations, as well as across the world. 

You Are Here cover Image
You Are Here: Connecting Flights
by Ellen Oh, Ed.
Interest level: 3-7

An incident at a TSA security checkpoint sows rumors and chaos, creating a chain of events that impacts twelve young Asian Americans in a crowded and restless airport. As their disrupted journeys crisscross and collide, they encounter fellow travelers - some helpful, some hostile - and discover the challenges of friendship, the power of courage, the importance of the right word at the right time and the unexpected significance of a blue Stratocaster electric guitar.

A Thousand Steps Into Night cover image
A Thousand Steps Into Night
by Traci Chee
Interest level: 6-12

When Muko is cursed and begins to transform into a demon with a deadly touch, she embarks on a quest to reverse the curse and must decide if saving her soul is worth returning to her ordinary existence.

Anne of Greenville cover image
Anne Of Greenville
by Mariko Tamaki
Interest level: 9-12

In this modern reimagining of Anne of Green Gables, Anne is an ABBA-loving singer/actor/writer of disco-operas who is also queer and Japanese American. She longs to be understood for her artistic genius. Recently relocated to middle-of-nowhere Greenville and starting at a new school, Anne tends to fall in love quickly, deeply and effervescently and fly off the handle in the face of jerks. She meets her new BFF, Berry, and soon after meets the girl of her dreams, Gilly. Falling quickly into that age-old trap of ignoring the best friend for the new crush, Anne soon becomes embroiled in a series of dramatic and unfortunate events, and quickly finds herself wrapped up in a love triangle she never expected.

Himawari House cover image
Himawari House
by Harmony Becker
Interest level: 9-12

This young adult graphic novel is about three foreign exchange students and the pleasures and difficulties of adjusting to living in Japan. Living in a new country is no walk in the park. Nao, Hyejung, and Tina can all attest to that. The three of them became fast friends through living together in the Himawari House in Tokyo and attending the same Japanese cram school. Nao came to Japan to reconnect with her Japanese heritage, while Hyejung and Tina came to find freedom and their own paths. Though each of them has her own motivations and challenges, they all deal with language barriers, being a fish out of water, self-discovery, love and family.


What other books about Asian American and Pacific Islander characters do your students love? Tell us in the comments below!


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