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20 Favorite API Reads with Maya from MaiStoryBook

May is Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage month (APIH Month). It is a month to celebrate, appreciate, and recognize the culture, traditions, and history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States.

This month, I'm excited to team up with the Madison Reading Project again to share an updated list of 20 of my current favorite API Reads : 5 Board Books, 5 Picture Books, 5 Middle Grade Books, and 5 Graphic Novels. You'll also find an updated selection of my favorite API Book-inspired crafts, and AAPI Interactive Read Aloud Videos.

Plus this May, make sure to follow along on MaiStoryBook's YouTube Channel for a NEW Asian American Read Aloud Video Every Friday this month, and follow @Maistorybooklibrary on IG, for a Full week of Asian American KidLit Giveaways the first week of May, an API Book Bundle Giveaway Every Tuesday in May, and an Asian Author/Illustrator Spotlight every Wednesday in May!

For more details on all of MaiStoryBook's AAPI Month festivities, and the full collection of AAPI Reads, Crafts, and Videos, head over to


Below I’m highlighting 20 of mai favorite AAPI Books split into 4 different categories: 5 Board Books, 5 Picture Books, 5 Middle Grade Books, and 5 Graphic Novels. Click on the Title to add the book to your own collection

For the Full API Book Collection, head over to MaiStoryBook's Blog.

5 Board Books

When Sunlight Tiptoes by Gillian Sze, Illustrated by Soyeon Kim // A mixed Asian and Black family runs errands along a city street on a sunny morning, visiting a bakery, flower shop, and fruit market. The lively atmosphere is depicted through sounds and sights, such as sugaring tarts, flowers, and cooing pigeons. The story ends with a new day full of possibilities.

Sumo Counting by Sanae Ishida // Mini sumo wrestlers and teaches children numbers from one to ten, fifty, and one hundred. The illustrations depict daily life in a sumo stable, including chores, practice, sleep, bathing, and eating together. Each page also includes a Japanese word related to sumo culture and the corresponding number in English and Japanese.

It’s Your Year, Baby Rabbit Illustrated by Ariel Hsu // This book is part of a new series introducing babies to their zodiac sign through positive personality traits and cute animals characters. This sweet board book will get your baby excited about the year of the rabbit! Baby Rabbit is kind, intelligent, humorous, and generous.

The Lei Book by April Hail and Hana Augustine // Explore the history and tradition of the Hawaiian lei, an art form that symbolizes the natural beauty and aloha spirit of the islands. LIttles learn about the various materials used to create lei, as well as the occasions for wearing them.

Tasting Chinatown by Ashely Chang & Jeffrey Chan // Discover the diverse, vibrant flavors of Chinatown–from A to Z. Packed with color, fun facts, and rollicking rhymes, this book is a must for kids hungry for a more flavorful take on the ABCs. From almond cookies to bubble tea, congee, egg tarts, and wontons, what will you learn, and eat?

5 Picture Books

One Day by Joanna Ho, Illustrated by Faith Pray // The book is a mother's ode to her baby boy where she shares her hopes and dreams for him as he grows up and explores the world. She envisions him as someone who is courageous, kind, powerful, curious, and capable of blazing his own trail. The mother also reassures her son that it is okay to express emotions such as crying, fear, and uncertainty, and that he is more than enough just the way he is.

Maribel’s Year by Michelle Sterling, Illustrated by Sarah Gonzales // Maribel and her Mama are in America, waiting for her Papa to come join them. Even though Papa is far away in the Philippines, Papa is still present in Maribel's life in various ways, such as through memories of feeding koi fish in their pond and through the letters and packages they send to each other. Their bond transcends oceans, and Maribel dreams of showing her new world to her Papa.

Sari Sari Summer by Lynorr Bontigao // Nora loves spending summers with her Lola at her sari-sari store in the Philippines, where they have a variety of items for sale. This year, Nora is old enough to help her Lola. However, when a heat wave hits and nobody comes to the store, Nora worries that she won't get to spend the rest of the summer with her Lola. But she comes up with a sweet idea to use the ripe mangos outside the storefront to make a sweet treat, and with her sweet idea, Nora and Lola find a way to bring people together and save the summer.

Aloha Everything by Kayline George, Illustrated by Mae Waite // This stunning children's book tells the story of a young girl who learns to love and care for her home with all her heart. Encounter elements of Hawaiian culture, history, and ecology, such as canoes, royal hawks, and lizard monsters. The book is written in a rhyming scheme and includes hand-printed illustrations that capture the beauty of Hawaii and will inspire curiosity and excitement in young readers.

The Yellow Ao Dai by Hanh Bui, Illustrated by Minnie Pham // Naliah is preparing to perform a Vietnamese fan dance at her school's International Day. However, her áo dài no longer fits, so she borrows her mother's and accidentally rips it while practicing. She’s horrified to discover that It turns out to be her grandmother's special áo dài worn at the Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam. Naliah learns to mend the costume with her mother's help and her grandmother's legacy, and in the process, she discovers how to believe in herself and make it her own.

5 Middle Grade Books

Finally Seen by Kelly Yang // Ten-year-old Lina Gao travels from Beijing to Los Angeles to reunite with her parents and younger sister after five years apart. However, her new life in America is not what she expected, and she struggles to adjust to the culture shock and the challenges of fitting in at school and at home. When her teacher faces challenges for her latest book selection, Lina must find the courage to stand up for herself and choose a future where she is seen.

It’s Boba time for Pearl Li by Nicole Chen // Pearl Li plans to spend her summer before seventh grade with her two best friends crocheting amigurumi dolls and visiting her favorite tea shop, Boba Time. But when Pearl learns of Boba Time’s financial troubles, she decides to sell her amigurumi dolls to raise funds for the shop. However, Pearl soon discovers that turning her passion into a business is more complicated than she thought as she faces various challenges. Can Pearl save Boba Time?

In the Beautiful Country by Jane Kuo // Anna is excited to move from Taiwan to America, but soon realizes that life in America is not as glamorous as she had expected. Her family struggles with finances and language barriers, and she faces bullying at school. Anna must find a way to adapt and make America her home despite the challenges.

Pippa Park, Crush at First Sight by Erin Yun // In this sequel to Pippa Park Raises Her Game, Korean American Pippa tries to balance basketball, school, friends, and working at her family's laundromat. On top of all that, she is interested in Eliot, her math tutor, and Marvel, her childhood friend. However, Pippa's new friends, the Royals, are making things rocky, especially Caroline, and when Pippa is asked to host the annual Christmas Eve party, she accepts the challenge. Now, she must juggle crushes, the party, finding the perfect dress, and being true to herself.

Lei and the Fire Goddess by Malia Maunakea // Twelve-year-old Anna doesn't believe in Hawaiian legends and stories. However, when she visits her grandmother in Hawaii and insults the fire goddess Pele, her best friend ends up kidnapped, and she is thrown into a world of mythical creatures and demigods. In order to save her friend and family, Anna must embrace her Hawaiian roots and battle to undo the curse.

5 Graphic Novels

A First Time for Everything by Dan Santat // A coming-of-age memoir based on author Dan Santat's awkward middle school years. Dan, despite being a good kid, feels invisible and is bullied. He goes on a class trip to Europe and has low expectations, but as he travels through different countries, he has a series of first experiences that change him, including first love. The book is heartwarming, funny, and celebrates the challenges and life-changing experiences of the middle school years.

Parachute Kids by Betty C. Tang // Feng-Li and her older siblings are left alone in California after their parents return to Taiwan. They must fend for themselves in a new world, start a new school, learn a new language, make new friends, and manage the household. As tensions escalate and they get involved in some bad choices, Feng-Li must try to keep her family together.

In Limbo by Deb JJ Lee // Deborah Lee, a South Korean immigrant to the United States, struggles with her sense of otherness. Her imperfect English, Korean name, and different appearance make her feel like she doesn't fit in. Her mental health deteriorates in high school, resulting in a suicide attempt. However, with resilience and the help of art and self-care, Deb slowly heals and gains a deeper understanding of her heritage and herself.

Hi’iaka and Pana’ewa by Gabrielle Ahuli’i // Hi'iaka is determined to protect the forests of Hawai'i from danger for travelers. To do this, she must defeat the evil lizard Pana'ewa and his army. With the help of her sister and some special abilities, she prepares for an epic battle. Discover Graphics: Global Folktales uses simple panels and engaging text, making it ideal for graphic novel fans of all ages.

Meesh the Bad Demon by Michelle Lam // Meesh is a "bad" demon who sees the good in those around her- which is not how a demon is expected to act. She is bullied by other demons and prefers to read magazines from the fairy realm and admire the fairy princesses. However, when disaster strikes and all of demon-kind is threatened, Meesh embarks on a journey to other worlds to seek help. She meets a fairy princess and makes new friends, all while learning that being a demon is more than she ever realized. Meesh must learn to love herself and uncover the secret to saving her home.


Celebrate API identities, stories, and traditions with these bookish crafts to extend the learning and play beyond the book. Check out these API bookish-inspired crafts below:

*Click on the Images for Craft Templates.*

Or Check out this Asian American Book Craft Bundle for a selection of 13 Asian American Bookish Crafts!

Interactive Read Alouds

Plus, read along with MaiStoryBook YouTube for interactive, shared-reading read aloud adventures where I ask questions throughout the story, point out main themes and ideas, and introduce vocabulary to keep little learns engaged and participating throughout the story. Check out a selection of some of my favorites below, and click Here for the Full Asian American + Pacific Islander Interactive Read Aloud Playlist.

Plus, be sure to subscribe to MaiStoryBook YouTube for a NEW Asian American Read Aloud Video Every Friday this May!

Or click on the image-link below to read along to some of my favorite individual titles


I hope you found some reading recommendations to add to your own shelves and share with your littles this Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Please share any other API Titles to add to this themed collection.

*~Also, I’d love to see and hear about your own reading adventures you are having with your little learners, so please share your story times below in the comments ~ Or Tag me on Instagram @MaiStoryBookLibrary , FaceBook , find me on TikTok, or contact me via email . I’d love to hear from you!~*


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