All posts in Book Reviews

best Chinese American books for kids

Top 10: Chinese American Children’s Books (ages 2-14)

The Chinese immigrant experience is one with a long history in America resulting in becoming the largest Asian population in America today.  There is a great one-page overview on Chinese immigration that details this history.  Interestingly, this article says that the earliest Chinese immigrants during the 1700’s were well received and became wealthy but attitudes changes negatively during the mid-1800’s when less skilled Chinese “Coolies” came during the gold rush.

As I think about the Chinese immigrant experience — my father immigrated from China to pursue a Ph.D program at U.C.L.A. a few years before the Communist Revolution — my own experience is probably similar to most second generation immigrants in the quest to balance American culture while honoring an Asian past.  Of course, my background is dissimilar to most Chinese immigrant stories as my mother is of Japanese descent and 2nd generation at that.  And did I mention that I married a Korean?

And so each of us carries an immigrant story that is unique.  I chose these books because there was something special about each of them that helps me to connect to my Chinese roots and I hope that you enjoy them to, even if your ancestry isn’t Asian.

For my own children, a “mixed-plate” to quote a Hawaiian term,  they are 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation Asian.  And at 1/4 Chinese, 1/4 Japanese and 1/2 Korean, they are an unusual mix in that these three countries have traditionally hated each other for centuries.  And so in reading these stories, they may or may not relate to any of these stories, but I hope that it will help them to honor and take pride in their ancestry even if it’s as varied as a patchwork quilt.

Chinese American Books for Kids Honorable Mention

Making Friends with Billy Wong by Augusta Scattergood

Augusta Scattergood tackles a little known subject: that Asian Americans were also subject to Jim Crow laws in the South. In this chapter book, she gently weaves together a story of Azalea, a rising fifth grader sent to live her grandmother in Arkansas that she’s never met before. Grandma Clark is a woman with a towering presence; she encourages Azalea to make friends with Billy Wong who is also new to their small town. He’s living with his Great Uncle and Aunt so that he can attend a previously all white school and works in their small grocery store. There’s also the bully, Willis, and Scattergood shows us that things are not black and white; behind his prejudice are family responsibilities heavy for a young boy to bear. Grandma Clark’s plan for a more tolerant community is simple; she utilizes Garden Helpers to help out while she’s recuperating, thus forcing everyone to work together. Azalea discovers that she’s more similar to her grandmother than she realized, and their relationship, like hers with Billy Wong, strengthens from the adversity of facing racism around them. [chapter book, ages 8 and up]

Mama and Papa Have a Store by Amelia Lau Carling

I love this story about a Chinese family that immigrated to Guatemala City and owns a store. Depicting a typical day in the life of family as described by the youngest, it’s an fun way to learn about the people and culture of Guatemala and the gentle rhythm of their lives. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

Read more…

fenway park icons of boston sharon schindler fine photography best photography of boston interior designer pragmatic mom pragmaticmom http://PragmaticMom.com best father's day gifts presents for dad

Father’s Day Gift Ideas

Best Gifts for Dads on Father’s Day

I completely missed the boat to post on gift ideas for Mother’s Day this year. I’m not sure exactly what happened but I did manage to send off cards and some books to my mother, mother-in-law, and a dear relative that we call G-G-M (Great Grandma Mary) but only barely made it via First Class U.S. Postal Service. Still, when Mother’s Day rolls around every year, I always think that it’s all about me so I do a sorry job at procuring gifts! One year we failed to plan ahead such that my husband had to fed ex cards to our moms for an overnight Saturday delivery. Oops! And year after year, it’s the same story. Read more…

Top 6: Best Golf Books for Dads

Best Golf Books for Dads from a Scratch Golfer

To coincide with the holy grail of the Master’s Tournament, my husband suggested these books for the golf nut in your life.  Could make a nice Father’s Day gift for later as well.  He qualifies.   He thinks it’s a crime against humanity if he’s not playing golf on a decent day;  he plays to a zero handicap; and he has amassed a huge collection of golf books and claims to have read every single one.  These are his favorites.  If you become a golf widow every spring like I do, your only recourse is to take up the game of golf.  And be sure to send your kids out to the course with your golf nut.  The kids love it.  They get to drive the cart, eat a hotdog outside, hit balls, play with the reseeding mixture, play with golf tees, and hang with their golf nut who would otherwise be absentee.  They learn great etiquette on the course and improve their eye/hand coordination as a bonus gift. Read more…

Top 10: Best Chapter Books for Summer Reading (Incoming Grades 3-5)

Best Chapter Books for Kids

If your elementary school is like my elementary school, kids entering grades 3-5 need to read 5 or so books during the summer (and do a book project on one of the books).  It’s not normally a struggle to get my kids to read 5 books during the summer except for the selection of the books because the summertime reading has to be especially engaging to compete for their time!  These 10 chapter books should do the trick!! Read more…

Top 10: Best Magic School Bus Books (Grades 1-4)

Best Magic School Bus Non-Fiction Science Books for Kids

The Magic School Bus series both books and DVDs are really wonderful and accurate introductions to science.  I loaded up on them when my oldest was young, and we watched the DVDs all the time … if we are going to watch TV, at least it’s educational!  But, with my third, I seriously think that he has not watched a single show of this excellent series.  My kids say that at school when they have more indoor time than scheduled (absent music, art of PE teacher so the sub can’t really fill in), they watch a DVD and very often, it’s The Magic School Bus series. Read more…

Top 10: Best Klutz Activity Books for Boys

Best Klutz Books for Boys

The folks at Klutz were kind enough to send me a box of books when I mentioned that I wanted to do a post on Klutz books for boys. My girls LOVE Klutz and I never noticed as many Klutz titles for boys. A box arrived about two weeks ago, and my living room looked like a bomb went off. We kept this room in “experiment” mode while the kids went crazy testing all the books. It turns out that DADS also like some of these books! Read more…

best korean american books for kids, Korean American books for kids, books for adopted Korean children, books for korean american children

Top 10: Korean American Children’s Books (ages 2-16)

Best Korean American Books for Kids

My husband is Korean and I joke that the Koreans are nicknamed “The Irish of Asia.”   Like the Irish, they have a strong culture despite a long history of invasion and occupation.  Like the Irish, they have a penchant for drinking and fighting.  And like the Irish, there is a vein of melancholy than runs through their DNA.   Or at least, this is my take on it. Read more…

Japanese American books for kids, multicultural books for kids, WWII books for kids, Japanese books for children, Japan books, books for kids Japan

Top 10: Japanese American Children’s Books (ages 2-16)

Best Japanese American Books for Kids

The story of Japanese immigration is also true for my own family history.  Changes in Japan during the Meiji Restoration from 1868 to 1912 wrought great changes in Japan as the country tried to modernize.  The old feudal system of titled landowners was abruptly stripped away, and the daimyo domains of titled landowners were turned into prefectures.   For those families including my own, they were forced to buy back their own lands as some of their lost lands included sacred family burial grounds.  To earn the money, large numbers of Japanese men found work in Hawaii in the pineapple and sugar cane plantations and from there, migrated to the mainland. Read more…

best baseball chapter books for kids

Top 10: Best Baseball Chapter Books (ages 7-16)

Best Baseball Books for Kids

These books are from a Mom Blogger friend at CoffeeShopBloggers whose daughter is a sports fanatic and these were her favorite baseball books.  These books are appropriate for grades 3-5th.   The “…and Me” novels, also known as, the Baseball Card Adventures are fun because the child in the story travels back in time to meet a baseball legend.

I suspect that any little leaguer who might not love to read will enjoy these books! It might even inspire them to look at baseball equipment from Homerun Monkey and start playing baseball immediately. But I actually hope to get them reading! Read more…