Celebrating Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month 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.
Part of recognizing and appreciating a culture and history is to give it recognition and representation in the media. However, according to the The Cooperative Children's Book Center 2019 children's book survey, only 8.7% of children's books contain Asian or Asian American characters~ and the percentage is even less for children's books featuring Pacific Islander Characters.
I'm happy to share that over the past 2 years, I've seen an increase in Asian representation in KidLit. However, there is still a long way to go~ especially for *all* Asian identities, and especially Pacific Islander identities, to be represented, so we'll continue to support, amplify, and call for more #ownvoices Asian and Pacific Islander stories.
This month, I'm teaming up with the Madison Reading Project to share 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 a 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, and an API Book Bundle Giveaway Every Monday 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 MaiStoryBook.com.
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
Bitty Bao Board Books by Lacey Benard & Lulu Cheng // Adorable Bilingual board books available in simplified or Traditional Chinese characters. Cantonese books coming soon too! They cover many different topics and have the cutest cut-out illustrations.
Mini Love Tales by Conny Wong // Loving, rhyming board books mini series with Asian themes and culture. The cute plushies are the perfect pairings with these sweet board books featuring Asian dishes and Asian roots.
Baby Snack Time by Judy Li // “Baby Snack Time” is a bilingual board book written in English and Mandarin with pinyin. It's perfect for ages 1-6. Baby Snack Time celebrates Asian culture with nostalgic snacks that many Asian family households grew up with.
10 Khúc Đồng Dao: 10 Nursery Rhymes from Vietnam by Tiny Wrist // Features 10 Nursery Rhymes from Vietnam in Vietnamese and English. The illustrations are done by six up and coming Vietnamese artists.
Baby Loves Lunar Phases by Ruth Spiro & Irene Chan // Discover the science behind the lunar phases while celebrating Chinese New Year! Explore the lunar calendar, the moon's orbit, and the reason the moon seems to change shape through adorable illustrations and informative text.
5 Picture Books
A Hundred Years of Happiness by Thanhha Lai & Nguyen Quang & Kim Lien // An’s Bà, grandmother, sometimes gets trapped in *Cloudy memories.* To help bring her back to a happy memory, An and Ông, her grandfather, grow gấc fruits from seeds so they can make xôi gấc (a Vietnamese sweet sticky rice dish) ~Bà’s favorite dish from her wedding in Việt Nam many years ago.
Patience is key as they wait for the seeds to sprout, the plants to flower, and the fruit to grow. When the xôi gấc is finally ready, An is hopeful that her grandmother will remember her wedding wish with Ông: Trăm Năm Hạnh Phúc* ~ hundred years of happiness.
Eyes that Speak to the Stars by Joanna Ho & Dung Ho // A young boy questions the shape of his eyes when a friend draws a picture go him with slanted lines for eyes. Confused, he asks his Baba why his eyes are drawn like slits.
Together, Baba, Agong, and Di-Di, three generation of Asian men, show the young boy that he has eyes that *rise to the skies and speak to the stars, shine like sunlit rays, and glimpse the secrets of comets and constellations.
I am Golden by Eva Chen & Sophie Diao // In this luminous picture book, Mei’s parents embolden her to look in the mirror and see the beauty, grace, strength, and *golden rays* that flicker like an everlasting flame within her. The narrative flows with striking metaphors referencing Chinese culture and traditions, and the illustrations dazzle and glow with love, light, and sparks of gold.
Yes We Will by Kelly Yang // This book illuminates the power of Asian Americans all over the country, in all sorts of fields. 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.
Cannonball by Sacha Cotter & Josh Morgan // A young boy is determined to discover the secret to performing the perfect cannonball. As he prepares, everyone has advice~ telling him he needs more this, or bigger that. Overwhelmed, the young boy begins to doubt his cannonballing capabilities.
Once he finds his own unique style, listens to his own inner-voice, and taps into his heart, he discovers that anything is possible~ and the perfect cannonball just may be within his reach! Maori words are spread throughout the narrative, creating a dual language read, with definitions and cannonball terms provided the glossary at the back.
5 Middle Grade Books
New From Here by Kelly Yang // When the coronavirus hits Hong Kong, ten-year-old Knox Wei-Evans’s mom makes the last-minute decision to move him and his siblings back to California, where they think they will be safe. However, at his new school in California, Knox struggles classmates thinking that because he’s from Asia, he must have brought over the virus. Plus, at home, Mom just got fired, they've lost health insurance, and Dad doesn’t even know when he’ll see them again. As racism skyrockets during COVID-19, Knox tries to stand up to hate, while finding his place in his new country.
Dream, Annie, Dream by Waka T. Brown // In this empowering deconstruction of the so-called American Dream, where twelve-year-old Japanese American Annie grapples with, and ultimately rises above, the racism and trials of middle school she experiences while chasing her dreams of acting in the school play.
Danny Chung Sums it Up by Maisie Chan & Natelle Quek // Eleven-year-old Danny’s life is turned upside down when his Chinese grandmother comes to live with his family in England. Danny is frustrated with the language barrier, but soon finds a way to communicate through the universal language of math and art.
The House that Lou Built by Mae Respicio // Lou Bulosan-Nelson wants some space~ a place where she can excape from her lovable but large Filipino family. Her solution? To build a tiny house--one hundred square feet all to herself --that she'll construct on land inherited from her dad. Then Lou discovers that it's not so easy to build a house, not when her beautiful land may not be hers for much longer and her mom may want to move them out of state...
Troublemaker by John Cho // Follows the events of the LA Riots through the eyes of a Korean America 12-year-old boy as he navigates school and family. As tensions rise during the LA riots, Jordan's father leaves to check on the family store. Worried about his father, 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.
5 Graphic Novels
City of Dragons: The Awakening Storm by Jaimal Yogis & Vivian Truong // When Grace moves to Hong Kong with her mom and new stepdad, her biggest concern is making friends at her fancy new boarding school. But when a mysterious old woman gifts her a dragon egg during a field trip, Now, she and her friends must protect a newly hatched dragon from mysterious evildoers.
The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen // A Vietnamese boy uses fairy tales to help communicate with his Vietnamese immigrant parents. However, there’s one conversation that still eludes him—how to come out to her and his father. Is there even a way to explain what he’s going through in Vietnamese? And without a way to reveal his hidden self, how will his parents ever accept him?
The Green Lantern Legacy by Minh Le & Andie Tong // Featuring the first DC Comic to star a Vietnamese American superhero! Thirteen-year-old Tai Pham lives in the apartment above his grandmother's store, where his bedroom is crammed with sketchpads and comic books. When Tai inherits his grandmother's jade ring, he soon finds out it's more than just a piece of jewelry. Suddenly he's inducted into a group of space cops known as the Green Lanterns. Does he have the willpower to uphold the family legacy?
Marshmallow and Jordan by Alina Chau // Jordan is a young basketball star in Indonesia, until an accident leaves her paralyzed from the waist down. However, with the help of a mysterious elephant, who she names Marshmallow, Jordan discovers a brand new sport.
They Called Us Enemy by George Takei & Justin Eisinger & Steven Scott & Harmony Becker // This graphic novel is autho Takei's firsthand account of his years behind barbed wire in the Japanese Internment Camp, the joys and terrors of growing up under legalized racism, his mother's hard choices, his father's faith in democracy, and the way those experiences planted the seeds for his astonishing future.
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