Asian American books for kids, kite flying books, kite fighting books for kids, 3rd grade books, 4th grade books, 5th grade books

Let’s Go Fly a Kite! Books and Activities for Kids

Kite Flying in Kids’ Books

The Blossom Kite Festival is an annual event that is traditionally a part of the festivities at the National Cherry Blossom Festival on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

The Cherry Blossom Kite Festival in Washington, DC, includes the rokkaku kite battle mentioned in Flying the Dragon, modern kite-making, and the children’s best handmade kite contest.

For anyone lucky to be in Washington D.C. at the end of March, here are the details:

Date and Time
March 30, 2013
10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

On the grounds of the Washington Monument, Constitution Avenue & 17th Streets, NW Washington, DC.

For those of us who can’t be there, we can recreate this experience!

Kite flying dates back to Ancient China, but in Japan, there is a special day called Children’s Day (a.k.a. Boy’s Day) dedicated to flying kites including these Koi windsacks.

Japanese Koi Kites

Children’s Day (Kodomo no hi) is celebrated on 5th May in Japan. It is a national holiday honoring moms and kids, historically boys. Until recently, 5th May used to be known as Boy’s Day (Tango no Sekku, or the Feast of Banners). In Japanese culture, the carp (or koi) represents courage and perseverance, as the fish is known for its strength and determination as it swims against the current upstream.

The epicenter for kite flying in Japan is the Hamamatsu festival which dates back to the 16th Century.  Large kites were flown in celebration of the birth of a baby son to the Lord of Hamamatsu Castle. Even today, kites are flown at Hamamatsu when a baby boy is born, a custom known as hatsudako. On the weekend of May 5th, if you are lucky to be at Nakatajima Dunes, you can witness kite fighting at its best!

Asian American books for kids, kite flying books, kite fighting books for kids, 3rd grade books, 4th grade books, 5th grade books

Kite Flying (and Fighting) Themed Chapter Books for Kids

I have Chinese, Japanese and Korean themed kite picture book and chapter books for kids.

Kite Flying by Grace Lin

Kite Flying celebrates the Chinese tradition of kite making and kite flying, Ma-Ma, Ba-Ba, Jie-Jie and Mei-Mei all work together to make a beautiful dragon kite.[picture book, ages 3 and up]

Nu Dang and His Kite by Jacqueline Ayer

First published in 1949 when Thailand was Siam, this picture book was recently reprinted by Enchanted Lion Books. The gorgeous illustrations and timeless story make this relevant today. Nu Dang is a little boy who loves to fly his kite, but one day the wind makes off with it so he sets off down the long brown river to find it. The river is busy with the floating market merchants and buyers, priests, and boatmen. His journey to find his kite takes him back home, where his kite has floated down to meet him. This is a great picture book to experience the bustle of life Thailand. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

Flying the Dragon by Natalie Dias Lorenzi

Finally, a Japanese-American chapter book that does NOT focus on WWII Internment camps! Instead, Lorenzi wraps her story around kite flying, connecting two cousins — Hiroshi, a boy from Japan and Skye a hapa girl (half Japanese/half Caucasian) in D.C.

It’s their Japanese grandfather that unites them around his passion for building and flying kites. He’s relocating to the States, staying near Skye’s family for a special cancer treatment. Skye is pushed to learn Japanese which puts her soccer All Star camp at risk. Hiroshi misses Japan and feels like a fish out of water in America. Will kite flying and the upcoming kite battle at the National Cherry Blossom Festival bring them closer together or tear them apart? [chapter book, ages 9 and up]

The Kite Fighters by Linda Sue Park

Set during the Chosum period during the fifteenth century, Korea’s Golden Age, this is a coming of age story wrapped around kite fighting for two brothers and a young king. [chapter book, ages 9 and up]

Randomly Reading has a great post on a historical fiction picture book:

Red Kite, Blue Kite is a picture book that begins just before takes the Cultural Revolution in China that occurred during the 1960s.  Tai Shan and his Baba (father) like to fly their kites from the rooftop of their home.  Tai Shan’s kite is red, his father’s is blue.  Kite flying is a special time for Tai Shan, because on the roof they feel free and Baba tells lots of stories. from Randomly Reading

What Do We Do All Day had another great suggestion for a picture book set in New England.

Hamlet and the Enormous Chinese Dragon Kite by Brian Lies

When Hamlet, a small pig, decides to buy a huge kite, his friend Quince, a porcupine, is worried. Undeterred, Hamlet gets the “…beautiful Chinese dragon…with the fierce claws and a long, winding tail” that he has admired at the village store. Quince’s worst fears are confirmed when the kite, flying high on a strong wind, sweeps the porker up and away. At first he enjoys being airborne, but in the end, he is happy to land in one piece. This simple adventure story, with its animal cast and a setting that suggests rural New England, celebrates the thrill of risk-taking and the warmth of friendship. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

Margaret A. Chang, North Adams State College, MA from School Library Journal

What Do We Do All Day has another great book addition: Henry and the Kite Dragon.

Henry and the Kite Dragon by Bruce Edward Hall

In Bruce Edward Hall’s Henry and the Kite Dragon, the city is once again the backdrop for rival groups. Not the Sharks and Jets, but the the kids from Little Italy and the kids in Chinatown. Henry and his Grandfather Chin make beautiful kites, but when they fly near some pigeons, rocks bring the kites down. When Henry and his friends discover the culprits are boys from Little Italy, their first instinct is to “go down there and fight, them.” Grandfather Chin, being the wise man that he is, instead suggests they try a different tactic. When they fly their new, splendid dragon kite in the park where the rivals also congregate everyone discovers the source of the trouble and together they find a solution. review from Storied Cities Books

Story Snug has a great post on The Kite Princess by Juliet Clare Bell. She describes this picture book as:

To the despair of her stuffy parents Cinnamon Stitch is a princess who wants to climb trees and get dirty, she doesn’t want to wear nice clothes and look grand. After being told off for bad behaviour Cinnamon starts sewing and the queen is delighted. However, Cinnamon isn’t sewing a dress as her mother thinks, she’s sewing a kite and dreaming of freedom. The king and queen are shocked when they see their daughter flying but then the sound of Cinnamon’s singing has a profound and unexpected effect on them. review from Story Snug

Dev and Ollie Kite Crazy by Shweta Aggarwal, illustrated by Somnath Chatterjee

Gujaret’s Kite Festival also has kite fighting, and in this story of Dev and his magical stuffed owl Ollie, the pair help an elderly man with his kite shop. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

Making a Kite

I’ve made kites as a kid but not recently. Here are two links with detailed instructions and easy-to-find materials if you want t attempt making your own kite.

How to Make a Kite from Simple Green Living with just dowels and newspaper.

My Best Kite has detailed instructions on how to build a Diamond Kite using a trash bag and dowels.


Kite Song from Mary Poppins

Kite flying isn’t just an Asian thing. Do you remember when Mr. Banks breaks out in Mary Poppins, throwing his stoodgy ways to the wind, delighting his kids?!  It’s in the movie but I don’t remember this in the book.

Let’s Go Fly A Kite by Mr. Banks

With tuppence for paper and strings
You can have your own set of wings
With your feet on the ground
You’re a bird in a flight
With your fist holding tight
To the string of your kite

Oh, oh, oh!
Let’s go fly a kite
Up to the highest height!
Let’s go fly a kite and send it soaring
Up through the atmosphere
Up where the air is clear
Oh, let’s go fly a kite!

When you send it flyin’ up there
All at once you’re lighter than air
You can dance on the breeze
Over ‘ouses and trees
With your first ‘olding tight
To the string of your kite

Oh, oh, oh!
Let’s go fly a kite
Up to the highest height!
Let’s go fly a kite and send it soaring
Up through the atmosphere
Up where the air is clear
Let’s go fly a kite!

The Blossom Kite Festival in D.C.

We can experience the D.C. kite festival vicariously through this video too!

p.s. I am honored to be featured in Paper Tigers. This great blog on Asian American children’s books has more books:

The Emperor and The Kite bh Jane Yolen, illustrated by Ed Young

“The Emperor Shin was saved from a tower where he was imprisoned by means of a kite…”
Ignored by her own family, a Chinese princess spends her days playing with a kite made from paper and sticks. But when the Emperor is imprisoned in a high tower, she saves the day, flying her kite high up into the sky to rescue him.

1968 Caldecott Honor Book

The Kite Rider by Geraldine McCaughrean
In the dramatic world of thirteenth-century China, a man is chosen to ride the ship’s hatch into the sky, like a giant kite. The flight of the hatch will determine the destiny of the ship. He is survived by his son, twelve-year-old Haoyou, who is offered a chance to escape his family’s poverty and the pain of his father’s death by becoming a kite rider at Great Miao’s circus. He accepts the challenge and skillfully performs for local villagers, who believe he can bring back messages from lost loved ones whose spirits haunt the sky. But Great Miao is not all that he seems and Haoyou must learn how to survive the very thing that killed his father.2001 Smarties Book Bronze Award
Short listed for the 2001 Carnegie Medal.

Kites: Magic Wishes That Fly Up to the Sky by Demi
This beautiful book tells the story of how kites came to be and the significance of the symbols traditionally painted on them. It also provides information about kite festivals around the world, and kid-friendly directions for making and painting kites. It is a book that celebrates kite-making and kite-flying in a fascinating way.

Dragon Kite of the Autumn Moon by Valerie Reddix, Jean Tseng, Mou-Sien Tseng
Every year Tin and his grandfather fly a kite to celebrate Kite’s day, and as Taiwanese custom dictates, they cut it free at nightfall, so it can carry any misfortunes away, and burn it if it happens to fall back to earth. When grandfather gets ill and is unable to make a new kite for the festival, Tin decides to fly his special dragon kite, the one grandfather made when he was born, in the hopes that the freed kite would rise and carry away his grandfather’s misfortunes. As it turns out the kite does soar away over the mountains, leaving a healthy grandfather and a happy and thankful boy behind.

The Story of Kites by Ying Chang Compestine, illustrated by Yongsheng Xuan.
Holiday House, 2003.Demi’s Kites and Jane Yolen’s The Emperor and the Kite both speculate about the origins of kites in China, but the playfulness and creativity of this book makes this version specially appealing. There are no precise records of how or why the kite was invented, yet theories concerning these beautiful objects make for very engaging tales, such as this one.

To try to keep the birds out of the rice fields, the Kang brothers experiment with paper and chopsticks and come up with an object that floats into the sky. Their “math homework attached to a chopsticks-frame and flown from a string” makes all the villagers excited and do succeed in frightening the birds away. Everybody is so taken by the object that the Kang family decides to open China’s first kite factory.

King of the Skies by Rukhsana Khan, illustrated by Laura Fernandez and Rick Jacobsen
Award-winning writer and storyteller Rukhsana Khan, tells a contemporary story set in Lahore, Pakistan about a boy known as the “King of the Skies” because of his kite-flying skills. Every year he anxiously awaits Basunt, the kite festival that celebrates the arrival of spring. Unable to walk or run, he relies on his brother and sister to get the kites he has cut free with the sharp twine of his yellow Guddi Chore, or “Kite Thief”, as he has named it.The movement of the kites flying up in the sky and the children running down below is a powerful contrast with the boy’s disability, and a beautiful reminder that freedom comes in many colors and shapes.

The Kite That Bridged Two Nations: Homan Walsh and the First Niagara Suspension Bridge by Alexis O’Neill, illustrated by Terry Widener

Review from Good Reads with Ronna

“Homan Walsh is a 16-year-old who gets the “itch to fly a kite” when he feels the wind blowing just right. In fact, his love of kite flying as well as his uncanny ability to read the wind, has made him one of the best kite fliers around. Widener draws us into the locale of the story with illustrations of Walsh so close to the edge of cliffs along the Niagara that we just have to read on first and foremost to make sure he doesn’t fall.”

I hope we all get to fly kites this spring!!

To view the books or items at Amazon, please click on image. 

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Thanks so much for this list. I have fond memories of kite flying with my kids, I was never able to attend an event dedicated to kite flying, but it sounds like a fun experience,

  2. I can’t believe I also forgot to tell you about the amazing Henry and the Kite Dragon. I wrote a review of it at Storied Cities:
    Mom and Kiddo recently posted…Book and Activity Ideas {The Children’s Bookshelf}My Profile

  3. What a great round-up of books!

    We watched Mary Poppins on our last snow day. Love that song!
    maryanne recently posted…Happy St. Patrick’s Day! (+ Our Week)My Profile

  4. Alexandra

    I loved flying kite when I was little..shame I don’t do it anymore with the kids. I guess when we are in the city there is just no way and when we are in the country there is so many things to do one does not even think of the kites!
    Alexandra recently posted…Wreck-it Ralph reviewMy Profile

    • Hi Alexandra,
      We are the same and it’s a shame because I have fond memories of flying kites. We also have electrical wires above ground and not that many big wide fields so we’d have to drive somewhere to fly kites. We have flown kites by the beach though. Good reminder to get or make a simple kite and take a short drive!
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Parenting ADHD Boys and GirlsMy Profile

  5. This is a great list Mia. WE love kites at our home .. looking forward to reading a few suggested here.
    Reshama recently posted…The Spider and the FlyMy Profile

  6. AWESOME theme for a book list!
    Thanks for sharing this with the Kid Lit Blog Hop!
    Katie recently posted…Kid Lit Blog Hop #12My Profile

  7. Sounds like a great festival in DC. DD7 will love these books as she really loved learning about Japan and the childrens’ festivals last year. Thanks for sharing this great list at Kids Lit Blog hop!
    piwimama recently posted…Co hosting the 12th Kid Lit Blog Hop!My Profile

    • Hi Piwi Mama,
      I’m so glad your daughter is into Japan and children’s festivals. Would she ever be interested in making a kite? My kids have never done it but I used to as a kit just assemble a kite from a kit. It would be fun to make one though. Kite flying is a joy of childhood!

  8. Thankyou for this great list 🙂 Do you know The Kite Princess by Juliet Clare Bell? I have it on Story Snug (your site won’t let me post the link!).
    Catherine recently posted…King Jack and the Dragon by Peter BentleyMy Profile

  9. I loved this post. My niece and nephew are kite obsessed at the moment so we got them kites, but I didn’t think of getting them books to go with them, lol. Thanks for the great recommendations. I love Japanese themed books and I hope one day to make it to Japan during the cherry blossom time of year. And the Mary Poppins song made me want to go put on the movie, awww, Thanks for linking it in to the Kid Lit Blog Hop, cheers Julie Grasso
    Julie Grasso recently posted…Kid Lit Blog Hop #12 Review: Kurt Chambers: Truth TellerMy Profile

  10. Natalie Dias Lorenzi

    Thanks so much for including Flying the Dragon in your post, Mia! As a school librarian, I’ll check out the other titles on your list as we move into Cherry Blossom Festival Week! 🙂

  11. Ann

    I think that first one is illustrated by Grace Lin. We like that one. I would also like to read the one by Linda Sue Park and the Kite Princess. Thanks for these picks!
    Ann recently posted…Inspiration for the BunnyMy Profile

  12. Hello Mia! Thanks for this list -and thanks for putting up my book, The Kite Princess! I hope Ann (above) enjoys it too… I was sent the Korean version of it today, which is very exciting -my first Korean book. I think lots of authors like kites (there was one in my first picture book, too) and it’s the symbol of SCBWI, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Hans Christian Andersen (apparently) used to fly one to let people know he had a story ready to tell people and they’d gather round… Thanks again and happy kite flying and reading! All the best, Clare (Juliet Clare Bell).

    • Hi Juliet,
      Thanks so much for stopping by! We are always so excited to meet authors virtually! How wonderful that your book is being translated into other languages including Korean!!!

      That tidbit about kites relating to literature was so wonderful!! It makes kites even more special! But what did Hans Christian Anderson do if his story was ready but there was no wind?? … just wondering.
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Top 10: Best Poetry Books for Kids to Read GIVEAWAYMy Profile

  13. That’s a seriously awesome post! We are going through China now, and kite making is on our list of things to do. I have to look for some of these books in our library,
    Natalie recently posted…Honoring Multiple Heritages in Our ChildrenMy Profile

  14. What a great resource! I can’t wait to check out these books with my son! And I love the song from Mary Poppins 🙂 Thanks for sharing at the Culture Swapper!
    Leanna recently posted…World Citizen Wednesdays #34: Global Kids Beat the HeatMy Profile

  15. Very nice article. I appreciate the work that you have put in this page. Really good, Thanks for sharing this.

  16. I just love to play the i love kite fight game This game was amazing to play in online.

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