Introducing children to diverse cultures and encouraging inclusivity should be a year-round endeavor, but there are specific times of the year, such as Asian-American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month in May, when activities, community events and resources may be easier to find. Below is a round-up of picture books that either celebrate Asian heritage, communities, holidays and family life or were created by Asian or Asian American authors and illustrators. Having books such as these accessible to children all the time not only makes diverse representation more commonplace, it also helps kids identify with story characters and expands their awareness of other cultures. We hope you enjoy reading these stories with your children as much as we have.
Asian Adventures A-Z by Yobe Qiu is an exciting and unique way to practice the alphabet while learning about various foods, traditions and cultures of Asian countries highlighted on each colorful page.
Danbi’s Favorite Day by author-illustrator Anna Kim tells the story of a little girl who has big plans for Children’s Day, a South Korean holiday honoring children as the future of the world. As Danbi faces obstacles, she must use her creativity to put together an amazing party for her friends.
Everyone Loves Lunchtime but Zia written by Jenny Liao (illustrated by Dream Chen) explores a young Chinese-American girl and her struggles at school lunchtime. When her family teaches her the cultural meaning of each Cantonese dish in her lunch, she is proud to celebrate her heritage and share her wonderful food with others.
Geared towards ages 3-6, I am an Amazing Asian Girl by Yobe Qiu empowers young Asian girls through positive affirmations and diverse illustrations by Jade Le. This story helps readers build confidence, embrace their heritage and celebrate who they are. Also available: I am a Bold Asian Boy.
The Katha Chest by Radhiah Chowdhury is the story of 6-year-old Asiya, who loves to go through her grandmother’s big chest of quilts that tell stories of women in her family. Beautifully illustrated by Lavanya Naidu.
The Wheels on the Tuk Tuk by mother-son duo Surishtha and Kabir Sehgal (illustrator Jess Golden) takes readers on a wild taxi ride through India, packed with exciting encounters. This fun-filled board book is based on the authors’ own travel experiences.
Our Lunar New Year by Yobe Qiu explores traditions of Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Thai and Indian New Year celebrations. Beautiful illustrations show colorful dragons, fireworks and food enjoyed by multi-generational families during these holidays.
Ramen for Everyone, written by Patricia Tanumihardja and illustrated by Shiho Pate, tells the story of Hiro, a young boy who aspires to make the perfect ramen just like his dad. When this doesn’t go to plan, his father helps him see that creativity makes every bowl of ramen perfect and unique.
Inspired by author-illustrator Taeeun Yoo’s own family (who lives in South Korea), Love Makes a Garden Grow is a heartfelt story about a grandfather teaching his granddaughter how to nurture a beautiful garden. As life changes, their intergenerational bond stays strong through their mutual love of flowers.
A Spark in the Dark by San Diego author-illustrator Pam Fong is a powerful picture book about the ocean of feelings inside everyone. Whether you are mad, sad, scared or lost in the dark, there’s always hope. The story gives young readers and their parents a platform to talk about the variety of emotions people experience.
Designed for ages 4-8, Brave Like Mom by Monica Acker is a heartfelt and sensitive picture book about a little girl who learns the meaning of courage, empathy and compassion as she watches her mom navigate chronic illness. Illustrator Paran Kim grew up in Seoul, South Korea and studied fine art in Tokyo.
Consistent exposure to children’s books that feature characters of various ethnicities helps develop acceptance and understanding of other cultures. As you continue to diversify your family’s bookshelves, be sure to include books with Asian characters.