Picture Book Highlights | Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

By Monica C. RSS Tue, May 3, 2022

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month!

As part of the celebration, let’s again dive into recent picture books created by Asian authors and/or illustrators. This is just a small sample – for many more titles, be sure to check out our booklist.

Titles are available both in print and as ebooks whenever possible.

I am Golden by Eva Chen; illustrated by Sophie Diao

This lyrical, uplifting picture book is an ode to the immigrant experience and a declaration of Chinese American joy. What do you see when you look in the mirror, Mei? Do you see beauty? We see eyes that point toward the sun, that give us the warmth and joy of a thousand rays when you smile. We see hair as inky black and smooth as a peaceful night sky. We see skin brushed with gold.

Ebook available from Overdrive

The Big Bath House by Kyo Maclear; illustrated by Gracey Zhang

In this celebration of Japanese culture and family and naked bodies of all shapes and sizes, join a little girl--along with her aunties and grandmother--at a traditional bath house. Once there, the rituals leading up to the baths begin: hair washing, back scrubbing, and, finally, the wood barrel drumroll. Until, at last, it's time, and they ease their bodies--their creased bodies, newly sprouting bodies, saggy, jiggly bodies--into the bath. Ahhhhhh!

Ebook available from Overdrive

Beautifully Me by Nabela Noor; illustrated by Nabi H. Ali

Meet Zubi: a joyful Bangladeshi girl excited about her first day of school. But when Zubi sees her mother frowning in the mirror and talking about being “too big,” she starts to worry about her own body and how she looks. As her day goes on, she hears more and more people being critical of each other’s and their own bodies, until her outburst over dinner leads her family to see what they’ve been doing wrong—and to help Zubi see that we can all make the world a more beautiful place by being beautifully ourselves.

Ebook available from Overdrive

A Sari for Ammi by Mamta Nainy; illustrated by Sandhya Prabhat 

Ammi weaves the most beautiful saris but never gets to wear any of them. Her two little daughters decide to do something about it—break their piggy bank! But when there isn’t enough money to buy Ammi a sari, the two girls must work together to find a solution. Will they be able to buy Ammi the gift she so deserves? With a text full of heart, and bright, cheerful artwork, this story brings readers into the home of a weaver’s family in Kaithoon, India, where the creation of saris is an art form. 

Eyes that Speak to the Stars by Joanna Ho; illustrated by Dung Ho

A young boy comes to recognize his own power and ability to change the future. When a friend at school creates a hurtful drawing, the boy turns to his family for comfort. He realizes that his eyes rise to the skies and speak to the stars, shine like sunlit rays, and glimpse trails of light from those who came before—in fact, his eyes are like his father’s, his grandfather’s, and his little brother’s, and they are visionary.  A follow-up to the New York Times bestseller Eyes that kiss in the corners.

Hundred Years of Happiness by Thanhhà Lai; illustrated by Nguyen Quan and Kim Liem

An’s grandmother Bà sometimes gets trapped in her cloudy memories. An and her grandfather, Ông, come up with a plan to bring her back to a happy moment: They grow gấc fruits so they can make xôi gấc, Bà’s favorite dish from her wedding in Vietnam many years ago. An and Ông work together in the garden, nurturing the gấc seeds. They must be patient and wait for the seeds to grow, flower, and turn into fruit. When the xôi gấc is finally ready, An is hopeful that her grandmother will remember her wedding wish with Ông: hundred years of happiness.

Luli and the Language of Tea by Andrea Wang; illustrated by Hyewon Yum

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. When all the tea is gone and it’s time for dessert, Luli gets to use her favorite English word, cookie! After that, the playroom isn’t so quiet.

Yes, we will: Asian American who shaped this country by Kelly Yang; with multiple Asian American or Asian illustrators

Each spread is illustrated by a different renowned Asian American or Asian artist. Alongside the poetic main text, Yes We Will includes one-line biographies of the person or historical moment featured on the page, with extended biographies at the end. Readers of different ages and needs can use the book in different ways, from classroom discussions to bedtime readalouds and more.

Be sure to check our catalog and Overdrive Kids eReading Room for these titles and many more being added.


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