30 AAPI Books for Kids of All Ages

Diversify your reading routine to learn a little more about – and introduce your kids to – the AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islanders) mores, traditions and cultures. From biographies to cultural traditions to eliminating stereotypes, you can stock your shelves or check with your local library for these great books for kids of all ages.

One, Two, Three Dim Sum: A Mandarin-English Counting Book, by Rich Lo

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  • Best for ages: 0-4 years

Kids who are just learning to count can count to 10 in both English and Mandarin. The objects to count are traditional in Chinese food: 1 menu, 2 chopsticks. 

The Twins’ Blanket, Hyewon Yum

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Best for ages: 3-6 years

Twins love, twins bond and twins squabble. Told from the perspective of a pair of 5-year-old twins, the two are out-growing their shared bed so how will they share their same favorite blanket? Parents of twins will understand the language of love.

Cora Cooks Pancit, by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore

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  • Best for ages: 3-7

When Cora is finally allowed to try the “grown-up” jobs in the kitchen, she is excited to find out what her family thinks of her cooking. Author Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore grew up in a Filipino-Italian family that loved to spend time in the kitchen.

No Kimchi For Me! by Aram Kim

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  • Best for ages: 3-7 years

Yoomi is not a fan of kimchi, despite how often the grownups in her house try to disguise it (in pizza, on a cookie, in ice cream). When her grandmother teaches her to make kimchi pancakes, she learns more about her Korean heritage. Author and artist Aram Kim was born in Ohio and spent her childhood in South Korea.

The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi

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  • Best for ages: 3-7 years

Unhei is the new kid and worries that no one in her American school will be able to pronounce her name, so she lets kids put suggestions into a jar for how to “rename” her. Author Yangsook Choi grew up in Korea and moved to New York as an artist. She has written and illustrated books for young readers.

What I Like Most, by Mary Murphy

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  • Best for ages: 3-7 years

Written from a child’s perspective, after reading this book, kids can make their own list of the things they like most. The moral is a great reminder to parents of their unseen influence on their own children. The pencil and watercolor drawings by Zhu Cheng-Liang are themselves works of art.

Sumo Joe, By Mia Wenjen

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  • Best for ages: 4-7 years

Joe likes to play with his little sister and then pretend to be a sumo wrestler with his friends. When his sister wants to join in the sumo fun, what’s a big brother to do? Author Mia Wenjen (@pragmaticmom on Instagram) is the co-founder of Multicultural Children’s Book Day and is passionate about representation in picture books.

Eyes That Kiss in the Corners By Joanna Ho & Dung Ho

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  • Best for ages: 4-8 years

Author Joanna Ho has been a teacher and a dean and is currently the vice principal of a school in California’s Bay area. Her book helps kids recognize the beauty in their own differences.

Grandpa Grumps, by Katrina Moore

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  • Best for ages: 4-8 years

Daisy has created a whole list of fun activities to do with her grandfather, Yeh-Yeh, when he visits America from China. But Yeh-Yeh doesn’t seem to be having any fun, and Daisy’s new mission is to make him smile. Fun for grandparents and grandkids who are bridging the intergenerational gap, with adorable illustrations by Xindi Yan.

Ba-Chan Ninja Grandma, by Sanae Ishida

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  • Best for ages: 5-9 years

Part of the Little Kunoichi series of books, meet Ba-Chan, the creative grandmother who helps Little Kunoichi find adventure while her friends are away on vacation. Sanae Ishida is both author and illustrator of the series that includes: Little Kunoichi The Ninja Girl and Chibi Samurai Wants a Pet.

The Umbrella Queen, by Shirin Bridges

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  • Best for ages: 4-8 years

Chicago author Shirin Bridges tells the tale of the umbrellas made in a small town in Thailand. Noot is finally given her chance to paint the umbrellas, but when her vivid imagination takes over and she strays from the traditional patterns, she’s told to return to the old ways of painting if she ever wants to be named “The Umbrella Queen.” Bridges is also the author of Ruby’s Wish, a winner of the Ezra Jack Keats Book Award.

Mulan: The Story of the Legendary Warrior Told in English and Chinese, by Li Jian

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  • Best for ages: 4-8 years

The Disney version of the story of Fa Mulan is a helpful introduction, but the Chinese story is an original folktale from the Northern Dynasty. Told in English with Chinese character translation, kids can read the tale of Mulan and see how Chinese children also learn the story.

Tea with Milk, by Allen Say

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  • Best for ages: 4-8 years

Mae’s home is in San Francisco, but when her family moves back to their native Japan, she is called by a different name – Masako – and is expected to wear kimonos and sit on the floor. Her homesickness for America eventually pulls her from her family home and on an adventure to Osaka. Author Allen Say has written 12 books based on the stories of his Japanese family, including Caldecott winner Grandfather’s Journey.

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

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  • Best for ages: 4-8 years

Kids will learn the background of Maya Lin whose artistry joined architecture to create the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Her parents, a poet and clay artist, fled China before Maya and her brother were born in the United States.

Shark Lady, by Jess Keating

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  • Best for ages: 4-8 years

This book is subtitled: “The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist” and is the tale of Eugenie Clark, an American-born scientist with Japanese ancestry who studied shark behavior. Clark’s work also helped make her a pioneer using scuba gear for the study of marine biology.

Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao, by Kat Zhang

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  • Best for ages: 4-8 years

There are many things that precocious Amy Wu does very well. Making bao is not one of them. Join Amy on the all-day adventure to learn to make the perfect bao. Also in this series is Amy Wu and the Patchwork Dragon.

A Big Mooncake for Little Star, by Grace Lin

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  • Best for ages: 4-8 years

Kids will love the illustrations as they learn the phases in the moon in this story about Little Star and her love of mooncakes.

It Began With a Page, by Kyo Maclear

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  • Best for ages: 4-8 years

This biography of artist and illustrator Gyo Fujikawa helps kids understand how she created a shift in the illustrations of children’s literature with her first book, Babies. In it, Fujikawa showed babies of all races and sold more than 2 million copies when book publishers were concerned that it wouldn’t be successful.

Natsumi, by Susan Lendroth

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  • Best for ages: 4-8 years

Natsumi is small but powerful, doing everything from jumping in puddles to picking flowers in a big way. But is marching to the beat of her own drum good or bad as her family prepares for its village’s Japanese arts festival?

The Most Beautiful Thing, Kao Kalia Yang

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  • Best for ages: 5-9 years

Kalia is a Hmong refugee whose family is surviving on a small income, but a lot of love. Kalia wants braces to fix her smile, and her grandmother teaches her about the most beautiful thing. Written in part from the experiences of the author and illustrated by Vietnamese artist Khoa Le.

We Are Inspiring: The Stories of 32 Inspirational Asian American Women, by Angel Trazo

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  • Best for ages: 6-8 years

Covering some amazing stories, including actresses, scientists, comedians and musicians, author Angel Trazo found 32 people who will inspire kids of all ages. The book was created with the backing of a Kickstarter campaign and published in 2019.

A Different Pond, by Bao Phi

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  • Best for ages: 6-8 years

One part story, one part graphic novel, join a father and son on their adventures on a fishing trip. The narrator, Bao, learns about the ponds his father used to fish in his native country of Vietnam.

Grandmother School, by Rina Singh

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  • Best for ages: 6-8 years

Instead of her grandmother walking our young heroine to school, the girl walks her grandmother to school, a place where grandmothers learn to write, read and perform arithmetic. Based on a true story of a grandmother school in Phangane, India, kids can learn how some villages and countries are combating an age-old problem of female illiteracy.

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things, by Lenore Look

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  • Best for ages: 6-9 years

This first of six Alvin Ho books introduces readers to the second grader with a lot of fears: elevators, bridges, thunder, tunnels, substitute teachers, the list goes on. But he also has a lot of adventures with his brother and sister.

Over the Moon: The Novelization, by Wendy Wan-Long Shang

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  • Best for ages: 8-12 years

For older kids who loved the Netflix movie, the novelization of Over the Moon lets readers see the movie in their head and in the artistic drawings on the occasional page. Read more about Fei-Fei’s feelings and her love of math than the movie could provide.

Frazzled: Everyday Disasters and Impending Doom, by Booki Vivat

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  • Best for ages: 8-12 years

Abbie Wu is in a constant state of crisis: she’s starting middle school, her family just doesn’t “get” her and she’s still searching for that thing that gives her an identity. This book is funny and great for middle grade readers. Other books in the Frazzled series include: Ordinary Mishaps and Inevitable Catastrophes and Minor Incidents and Absolute Uncertainties.

Front Desk, by Kelly Yang

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  • Best for ages: 8-12

Mia Tang and her family live in a motel and while she serves as the front desk clerk, her parents clean the rooms and hide immigrants from the mean motel owner. Mia is just trying to survive the year as a 10-year-old in this series that won the Asian/Pacific American Award for Children’s Literature. Also in the series is Three Keys.

Count Me In, by Varsha Bajaj

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  • Best for ages: 10-12 years

Karina Chopra, her grandfather and the boy next door, Chris, are the victims of hate crime. When the Indian-American girl takes to social media, her posts become viral. Tweens can discover community and the impact of social media as they read the book by Varsha Bajaj, who grew up in Mumbai, India.

American Born Chinese, by Gene Luen Yang

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  • Best for ages: 12-18 years

This graphic novel joins three seemingly unrelated characters as the story weaves them all together. It offers older readers a look at stereotypes as it then breaks them down.

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo, by F.C. Yee

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Best for ages: 13+ years

One part Buffy the Vampire Slayer, one part teenage angst, the heroine of Genie Lo is a volleyball-playing, Harvard hopeful who has to slay a few demons from Chinese folklore. This YA SciFi novel has a companion: The Iron Will of Genie Lo.


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