All posts in Asian American Children’s Books

Diverse Children's Books

#DiverseKidLit: Books in a Series

Our theme for this #DiverseKidLit is books in a series. Series books are great for hooking readers, because there’s another book after you finish the first one! Share your favorite book series featuring diverse characters. (As always, the theme is only a suggestion. Diverse posts on alternate topics are always welcome.)

I have a few recommendations!

Grace Lin has three series: Ling & Ting (easy reader), Pacy Lin (chapter book), Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (four book chapter books series).

Ling & Ting are charming short stories that tie up in each book. This series has won many awards including a Geisel.

The Pacy Lin series most reflects Grace Lin’s own childhood.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon 4 book series

These are companion books but the most recent one is starting to tie back to her previous books. Lin weaves Chinese folk tales and mythology into her award winning series.

Rita Williams-Garcia’s trilogy is a multigenerational family story that includes Civil Rights Movement Black Panther movement as well as living in Oakland, Alabama and Brooklyn.

Joseph Bruchac’s series is a departure but it’s clear that he’s having fun writing dyspotian young adult adventures with a Native American female protagonist.

Claudia Davila’s graphic novel series covers environmental topics for young readers.

 

What Is #DiverseKidLit?

Diverse Children’s Books is a book-sharing meme designed to promote the reading and writing of children’s books that feature diverse characters. This community embraces all kinds of diversity including (and certainly not limited to) diverse, inclusive, multicultural, and global books for children of all backgrounds.

We encourage everyone who shares to support this blogging community by visiting and leaving comments for at least three others. Please also consider following the hosts on at least one of their social media outlets. Spread the word using #diversekidlit and/or adding our button to your site and your diverse posts.

DiverseKidLit

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Recognizing Children's Books for #AAPIHeritageMonth

Recognizing Children’s Books for #AAPIHeritageMonth

For #AAPIHeritageMonth, I wanted to recognize Asian Americans in children’s books. I’ve tried to include all the Asian American authors and illustrators I can think of, including Asian Canadians for all books except young adult. This list grew out of trying to recognize this group on my Instagram (@PragmaticMom) and on the new Multicultural Children’s Book Day Instagram (@ReadYourWorld MCBD).

I’ve included a few YA authors that my kids personally recommend but for the most part, this is list is picture books, early chapter books, middle grade chapter books, graphic novels, and novels in verse. I’ve also tried to limit this list to books published within the last 12 months.

Who am I missing? Thanks for your help!

Asian American Picture Book Biographies

It turns out that very few picture book biographies were published this year featuring an Asian American.

Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines by Jeanne Walker Harvey, illustrated by Dow Phumiruk

I’m excited to read this picture book biography. I have long admired Maya Lin’s public art monuments and it’s wonderful to see her in a children’s book. I’ll also happy that Dow Phumiruk is the illustrator; I loved her #KidLitSafetyPin artwork.

As a child, Maya Lin loved to study the spaces around her. She explored the forest in her backyard, observing woodland creatures, and used her house as a model to build tiny towns out of paper and scraps. The daughter of a clay artist and a poet, Maya grew up with art and learned to think with her hands as well as her mind. From her first experiments with light and lines to the height of her success nationwide, this is the story of an inspiring American artist: the visionary artist-architect who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. [picture book biography, ages 4 and up]

Surfer of the Century: The Life of Duke Kahanamoku by Ellie Crowe, illustrated by Richard Waldrep

Growing up in Honolulu with the Pacific Ocean as his backyard, Duke Kahanamoku learned to swim and surf at a young age. By his early twenties, Duke’s lightning-fast swimming won him a place on the 1912 United States Olympic team and a gold medal in the 100-meter freestyle race. Over the years Duke struggled with racism and financial troubles, but by the end of his twenty-year Olympic career, he was a six-time medal winner. Although a swimming champion, Duke’s passion was surfing. He traveled the world, introducing surfboarding to Australia and the east and west coasts of the United States. Considered the father of modern surfing, Duke spread his love of the ocean and Hawai’i wherever he went. Throughout his life Duke Kahanamoku was beloved for his modesty, sportsmanship, and amazing skill in the water. [picture book, ages 7 and up]

Fred Korematsu Speaks Up by Laura Atkins and Stan Yogi, illustrated by Yutaka Houlette

Fred Korematsu liked listening to music on the radio, playing tennis, and hanging around with his friends—just like lots of other Americans. But everything changed when the United States went to war with Japan in 1941 and the government forced all people of Japanese ancestry to leave their homes on the West Coast and move to distant prison camps. This included Fred, whose parents had immigrated to the United States from Japan many years before. But Fred refused to go. He knew that what the government was doing was unfair. And when he got put in jail for resisting, he knew he couldn’t give up. [picture book biography, ages 8 and up]

Step Up to the Plate Maria Singh by Uma Krishnaswami

Nine-year-old Maria Singh longs to play softball in the first-ever girls’ team forming in Yuba City, California. It’s the spring of 1945, and World War II is dragging on. Miss Newman, Maria’s teacher, is inspired by Babe Ruth and the All-American Girls’ League to start a girls’ softball team at their school. Meanwhile, Maria’s parents–Papi from India and Mama from Mexico–can no longer protect their children from prejudice and from the discriminatory laws of the land. When the family is on the brink of losing their farm, Maria must decide if she has what it takes to step up and find her voice in an unfair world. In this fascinating middle grade novel, award-winning author Uma Krishnaswami sheds light on a little-known chapter of American history set in a community whose families made multicultural choices before the word had been invented. [chapter book biography, ages 8 and up]

Chef Roy Choi  and the Street Food Remix by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and  June Jo Lee, illustrated by Man One

Yukari Reads on Instagram gaves me the heads up on this one.

Chef Roy Choi calls himself a “street cook.”
He wants outsiders, low-riders,
kids, teens, shufflers and skateboarders,
to have food cooked with care, with love,
with sohn maash.

“Sohn maash” is the flavors in our fingertips. It is the love and cooking talent that Korean mothers and grandmothers mix into their handmade foods. For Chef Roy Choi, food means love. It also means culture, not only of Korea where he was born, but the many cultures that make up the streets of Los Angeles, where he was raised. So remixing food from the streets, just like good music—and serving it up from a truck—is true to L.A. food culture. People smiled and talked as they waited in line. Won’t you join him as he makes good food smiles? [picture book biography, ages 4 and up]

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Chinese New Year Books Instead of Tiki Tiki Tembo

Chinese New Year Books Instead of Tiki Tiki Tembo

I have to say that I’ve read Tiki Tiki Tembo to my kids so many times that we all can say his long version name. I just wanted to suggest other books for Chinese New Year because it’s kind of a fake Chinese Folk Tale about why Chinese names are so short today. For kids who might not have a lot of exposure to China, Chinese Americans and/or Chinese Culture, it sets the wrong tone, implying that the Chinese are foolish and stupid.

Grace Lin’s blog has more:

  • The book purports to be an “old Chinese folktale,” but it is not. It is actually thought to be based on a Japanese folktale called Jugemu. Presumably, that tale was picked up and retold by Westerners, who mistakenly attributed it to China and added to the story. The result is a story that is neither Japanese nor Chinese, and it exemplifies the racist attitude of, “Chinese, Japanese, what’s the difference, they’re all the same.” from Wikipedia
  • Though the book’s illustrations are beautifully drawn by Caldecott Medal-winning artist Blair Lent, they do not authentically depict Chinese people, as noted by The Multiculturalist above. Tikki Tikki Tembo’s shoes are actually strikingly similar to traditional Japanese geta footwear, again reinforcing the inaccurate perception that all Asian cultures are the same.

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Japanese Internment Books for Kids & My Family's Story

Japanese Internment Books for Kids & My Family’s Story

During WWII, more than 110,000 Japanese Americans were forced from their homes after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 in February 1942 in response to prejudiced fears that Japanese Americans were spies.

I’m probably one of a few children’s book blogger whose family was forced into internment camps during WWII for being Japanese American. Let me tell you my family’s story:

Japanese Internment Books for Kids & My Family's Story

My mother was born in San Francisco’s Japantown. After school every day, she would go, on roller skates, from her high school to Japanese school to study the language and arts like ikebana, Japanese flower arrangement, stopping on the way in a Japanese convenience store for a snack like senbei, Japanese rice crackers.

She, like all Japanese Americans (and the Chinese who immigrated before them in large numbers), were subject to racism which included special laws meant to limit their economic success. For example, Japanese Americans like herself, were not allowed to work for the government as civil servants. Even if she aced the government civil service exam, she would never be hired. Japanese immigrants were, by law, not allowed to own property in the United States, even if they could afford to buy a home for themselves and their family. The Asian Exclusion Act, part of the Immigration Act of 1924, completely excluded immigrants from Asia.

The Immigration Act of 1924 limited the number of immigrants allowed entry into the United States through a national origins quota. The quota provided immigration visas to two percent of the total number of people of each nationality in the United States as of the 1890 national census. It completely excluded immigrants from Asia. from Historian

When soldiers showed up on her doorstep, giving her family just two days to pack up one suitcase each, leaving all their belongings behind; this didn’t happen overnight. A whole series of events happened leading up to this first.

Slap That Jap and Dr. Seuss racist cartoons

Dr. Seuss was a racist. Read more…

Books For Kids About Cambodia (ages 4 to 16)

Books For Kids About Cambodia (ages 4 to 16)

I was working on book lists for Hmong, Lao, Vietnam, and Cambodia, but it turns out that there are few fiction books on their countries but quite a few on Cambodia. Like Japanese American books that mostly focus on WWII internment, many fiction books revolve on Khmer Rouge Cambodia, a heartbreaking event in history.

Still, there are other sides of the Cambodian story that emerge from this book list: folk tales that turn on the clever rabbit (the peasant who outwits those in power), the refugee immigrant, and the lives of Cambodians post war.

This list can also be used as part of a discussion on racism, and who is an “American.” I hope you enjoy these books as much as I did. You can also use this list as a companion to Holocaust books for kids.

If you have other books to add on Cambodia, Laos, the Hmong or Vietnam, I’d welcome them! Thanks for sharing!

 

Books for Kids About Cambodia

Who Belongs Here?: An American Story by Margy Burns Knight, illustrated by Anne Sibley O’Brien

A refugee’s story of who belongs here in America? After facing the most brutal of regimes, Nary, his grandfather and uncle are able to leave a refugee camp to relocate in America. Far from being the land of opportunity, they face racism. Similarly, Nary is bullied at school. Use this book to help students understand the refugee experience and to build bridges of understanding and compassion. Italicized notes on each page give a deeper view of the immigration experience. This book is also great paired with immigration picture books from other countries. [picture book, ages 8 and up]

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Art Activity Books for Kids Huge GIVEAWAY

Art Activity Books for Kids Huge GIVEAWAY

Nature is often a theme of Japanese art. Today, I am giving away two Japanese art coloring books and sharing some Japanese art by Hokusai from the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. I hope this helps to entertain your kids this summer.

p.s. More art posts for kids:

45 Art Gifts for Seriously Arty Kids by my daughter

10 Inspirational Art Books for Arty Kids

Gifts for Kids Who Hate Art and Reading

Our Art Gift Kits for Arty Kids

Let’s learn about Ukiyo-e!

The ukiyo-e genre of art flourished in Japan from the 17th through 19th centuries The term ukiyo-e translates as ‘pictures of the floating world’.

Some ukiyo-e artists specialized in making paintings, but most works were prints. Artists rarely carved their own woodblocks for printing; rather, production was divided between the artist, who designed the prints; the carver, who cut the woodblocks; the printer, who inked and pressed the woodblocks onto hand-made paper; and the publisher, who financed, promoted, and distributed the works.

Hokusai The Great Wave

Great Wave off Kanagawa by Hokusai
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My Chinese Silk Road Heritage

My Chinese Silk Road Heritage

I covered my Japanese Daimyo family history and my husband’s Chosun Dynasty family history on his father’s side, so I thought I’d cover my Chinese family history today. My father immigrated from China before the Communist Revolution to attend UCLA for a PhD in mathematics. He was asked to return to China right as the war began, but he decided to stay in Los Angles instead. A wise move in hindsight, given the Cultural Revolution that lay ahead. As an educated professional with family roots in the silk trade, he would have not fared well. Indeed, when we visited relatives in the 1980s, I met our Chinese relatives and heard the sad stories of what happened to his favorite nephew.

The Old Silk road

But I never knew much about the family silk business which I assumed was vertically integrated — from silk worm to silk thread to silk fabric to the Silk Road. I find that when I go to my public library, I always grab a few picture books that catch my eye that are on display. Read more…

A Survey of Lunar New Year Traditions by Janet Wong

Janet Wong on Lunar Year Traditions with Book List!

Did you know that Tibetan Losar, the Mongolian Tsagaan Sar, and the Vietnamese Tết occur at the same time as the Chinese and Korean lunar new year holidays? Janet Wong shares a book list and lunar new year traditions over at Multicultural Children’s Book Day Blog here:

I grew up celebrating the lunar new year mainly with the Chinese traditions of my father and his parents—firecrackers at midnight, the Chinatown parade, red envelopes, eating fish for wealth and lo hon jai, the monk’s noodle dish made with 18 different vegetables, for health. What I remember most, though, was our whole family frantically cleaning the house the evening before, to get rid of all the dirt and bad luck of the past year and make room for good luck in the new year. This illustration by Yangsook Choi from our book This Next New Year perfectly captures the frenzy:

A Survey of Lunar New Year Traditions by Janet Wong

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Top 20 Classic Books for Kids

Top 20 Classic Books for Kids #LoveThriftBooks

Thank you ThriftBooks.com for sponsoring this post. Click here to check out the 7 million quality, used books on their shelves!

For summer reading with your kids, why not stock up on Must Read classics especially when they are at bargain prices through Thrift Books? What’s the deal, you ask? Thank you for asking!

Any title marked with a DEAL tag on the detail page is priced:

  • 2 books for $7.00
  • 3 books for $10.00
  • 4 books for $12.00
  • each additional is $3.00

At these great prices, it’s easy to find fifteen twenty classic books for kids. These are the books I would buy even if it’s a few years before my kids can read them. Because at these prices, who can resist?! I can’t!!  Here are my picks! Read more…