Each May, we observe Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage (AAPI) Month. This month-long event celebrates the contributions and influence of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States. We’d like to take this opportunity to share five books that shine a spotlight on the experiences of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans. Check them out!
The Year of the Dog by Grace Lin
Join Pacy as she ventures on a year of discovery – to find the real meaning of the Year of the Dog, and (most importantly) to find herself. At home, Pacy is very much Taiwanese-American, but at school? She’s seen as mostly Taiwanese. However, Pacy gains confidence from her forever friend, Melody, who is also Taiwanese and understands what it’s like to be split between two cultures all while feeling she doesn’t belong in either. Journey through the ups and downs of elementary school all while taking the opportunity to appreciate Chinese culture and traditions.
Project Mulberry by Linda Sue Park
Like most seventh-grade girls, Julia Song just wants to be seen as normal. That’s hard to do when her family is the only Korean one in town, and her best friend, Patrick, is incredibly enthusiastic about Korean culture. It’s bad enough he has a love affair with kimchi, but when Patrick embraces her mother’s suggestion that they raise silkworms for a state fair project, Julia’s had enough. She’ll do whatever it takes to sabotage the project– only to find herself standing as the silkworm’s biggest champion and (finally) embracing her Korean heritage.
Planet Omar: Accidental Trouble Magnet by Zanib Mian
Omar and his family have just moved to London, and he is NOT excited about being the new kid at school. What if the kids are mean? Or worse! What if his teacher is some kind of zombie alien?! But then Omar makes a new friend, and things start looking up – that is, until a bully sets his sights on Omar, determined to make Omar’s life a nightmare. However, Omar has a special imaginary friend that’ll give him plenty of courage: a dragon named H2O. From Omar dreaming of getting a Ferrari as his prize for fasting during Ramadan to cringing when his little brother blows a whistle during prayers at the mosque, to having a neighbor have a change of heart, Planet Omar is the perfect opportunity to learn about Muslim culture through a nine year old’s eyes.
Malala: My Story of Standing Up for Girl’s Rights by Malala Yousafzai, adapted by Sarah J. Robbins
Before she was an internationally known activist, Malala was a young girl who stood up for what she believed in. When the Taliban took control of her village, forcing girls out of their schools, Malala bravely continued to advocate for the freedom of education for all – including girls. Even when Malala is attacked by the Taliban, she continues to tell her story and, once she’s recovered from her injury, goes on to share her experience on a global stage. Told in her own words, Malala provides a warm, compelling look into her world where readers will discover that it takes just one unwavering voice to make a huge difference.
Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan
Ravi’s family has just immigrated from India. He speaks perfect English, yet no one in the 4th grade can understand his thick accent. Even his teacher mispronounces his name, making his transition to Albert Einstein Elementary School rough. The person Ravi used to be was confident, borderline cocky, and secure in his place in the social order. The new Ravi? He’s none of those. But Joe is struggling, too, and when he and Ravi find each other, these two misfits manage to become allies and friends in touching, unexpected ways.
Have you read any of these titles? Let us know which one is your favorite down in the comments!