May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Kidlit is one of many things that shed light on the rich and diverse heritage and cultures of Asian Pacific Americans. Being Asian American, I grew up thirsty for books about Asian Americans that I could relate to. But not all books featuring Asian American characters resonate with me. But there are many that do. The following is an abbreviated list of just some of the many children's and young adult books about Asian Americans that touched me in some way:
GIRLS FOR BREAKFAST by David Yoo (Young Adult- Delacorte) A girl-crazy Korean American boy struggles with his identity as an Asian male in his predominantly-white high school. Check out my author interview.
THE YEAR OF THE DOG by Grace Lin (Middle Grade- Little Brown) A Chinese American girl tries out different things, from entering in a science fair to performing in a school play, to decide what she wants to be when she grows up.
A STEP FROM HEAVEN by An Na (Young Adult- Puffin) A Korean American girl and her family immigrate from Korea to America. In addition to struggling with a new language and culture, the girl is a constant witness to her alcoholic father's abusive nature towards the family.
SHADOW OF THE DRAGON by Sherry Garland (Young Adult- Harcourt) A Vietnamese American boy wants to date a white girl whose brother is in a skinhead gang, and at the same time, he tries to keep his refugee cousin from joining a Vietnamese gang.
WILLIE WINS by Almira Astudillo Gilles, Illust. by Carl Angel (Picture Book-Lee & Low) A Filipino American boy is embarrassed to bring to school his father's alkansiya, a bank made from a coconut shell, and then he discovers a valuable item inside.
HOME OF THE BRAVE by Allen Say (Picture Book- Houghton Mifflin) In a story told through dark and dreamlike images, a man confronts haunting memories of his Japanese family's internment during World War II.
SHINING STAR: THE ANNA MAY WONG STORY by Paula Yoo, Illust. by Lin Wang (Picture Book- Lee & Low) This is a true story about Anna May Wong, a Chinese American actress who toughed it out in Hollywood during the 1930s in spite of the limited film roles offered to her.
Feel free to share any favorite children's or young adult books depicting the Asian Pacific American experience that aren't on this list.