Please welcome my guest today, author Korey Watari, with her debut picture book I Am Able to Shine! She has a list of Japanese American Joy picture books that celebrate joy through creativity!
We are giving away 5 copies of I Am Able to Shine! To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter at the bottom.
5 Japanese American Picture Books Celebrating Joy Through Creativity
I Am Able to Shine by Korey Watari, illustrated by Mike Wu
Keiko is a young Japanese American girl who has ambitious dreams and longs to find her place in this world. She struggles, realizes she is different from others, and tries her best to fit in but can’t help who she is or what she looks like. People are not always inclusive or kind, but she is determined to celebrate others and discover what makes people unique. Keiko shares her culture through origami and knowing that she always has her family’s love, she gains confidence. This story focuses on a multigenerational Asian American experience of resilience, strength, hope, and love and then passing these strong characteristics along to younger generations. [picture book, ages 3 and up]
They Say Blue by Jillian Tamaki
This is an immersive and beautifully illustrated story of a young Asian American girl’s experience of all the vibrant colors of her world. What colors do you see and are true today? She journeys through the elements and seasons through endless color and light. Blue like the ocean, orange like egg yolks, and black like her hair being combed by her Mother, They Say Blue is one to be shared with all ages. [picture book, ages 5 and up]
Anzu The Great Kaiju by Benson Shum
Anzu is a great kaiju and is destined to strike fear in the city he is assigned to create havoc on. The only problem is…Anzu is loving, adorable, and likes flowers! He worries that he will disappoint his parents and his fellow kanji but when given the opportunity to destroy his city, he finally succeeds but ends up feeling emptiness. Anzu discovers that being true to himself and his gentle nature will make his family proud while helping his city. He can now be a happy and loving great kaiju! [picture book, ages 4 and up]
It Began With a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way by Kyo Maclear, illustrated by Julie Morstad
Gyo loved to draw, she was brave and pushed the boundaries of what a woman of Japanese American ancestry was expected to do and become during her time. This story of Gyo’s life and struggles is a true inspiration for all children to see how someone from a different background could achieve such groundbreaking work. Her children’s books were inclusive to all races at a time of segregation and much can still be learned from how she approached her life. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
A Boy Named Isamu: A Story of Isamu Noguchi by James Yang
Isamu explores nature and learns to appreciate the elements: pebbles, sticks, and bamboo in all their wonder and simplicity. As a child, he finds magic and inspiration in the natural world around him. This unique book imagines the famous Japanese American artist Isamu Noguchi, as a child and where he found his inspiration, in his quiet alone time where his imagination could wander and thrive. [picture book, ages 3 and up]
I AM ABLE TO SHINE 5 Picture Book Giveaway!
We are giving away 5 copies of I Am Able to Shine! To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter at the bottom. We can only mail to U.S. and A.F.O. addresses.
Korey Watari is a sansei, or third generation Japanese American, born and raised in Los Angeles. She played basketball for a Japanese American League, graduated from the University of California Riverside, and studied at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. Korey has worked in the animation and fashion industries for companies such as Disney and the Gap. This is her first picture book. Learn more at www.koreywatari.com or on Twitter at @tinyteru, Facebook at @tinyterum and Instagram at @wudog23.
p.s. Related posts:
Japanese American books for kids
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It’s amazing how a single piece of art can have a ripple effect, inspiring others all around the world and for many generations.
WWII Internment seems to dominate Japanese American books for kids. I agree that it is an important lesson in history — my own mother was forced to relocate but I also hunger for books that explore other facets of being Japanese American.
Kite flying is an important ritual in Asia and I’ve rounded up every great kite flying book thanks to a little help from my friends and readers.
This was my response to a reader request.
I explore my own Japanese history in this post.
These older books explore the Japanese American internment experience during WWII, a shameful chapter in America’s history.
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