A Mighty Girl's top picks of girl-empowering books for children and teens starring Asian American Mighty Girls.
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is here! Every May, we celebrate the diverse cultures and communities represented by Asians and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) in the United States — and recognize the contributions that AAPI people make to our country every day.
If you'd like to celebrate and uplift girl-empowering AAPI stories during May, in this blog post, you can find dozens of books for children and teens starring Asian American and Pacific Islander Mighty Girls! From charming picture books to inspiring middle grade novels to thoughtful YA historical fiction, these stories showcase the diverse experiences of AAPI people in America. They also highlight universal experiences shared by all children and youth, that of discovering your passions and finding your path in the world. They're perfect for sharing with the kids in your life during AAPI Heritage Month and all year round!
Mighty Girl Books for AAPI Heritage month
"Me/ You/ We, two/ Hand in hand/ Through and through." This charming board book celebrates the special feeling of closeness that grows between parent and child! On a busy day, this pair play at the park, tell stories together, and so much more. And even when they spin apart for a little while — like when the play structure is full of possible friends! — they know they will always come back together. This sweet book from the New Books for Newborns series is cozy and just long enough to engage little readers.
"Just outside my window, / There are tracks in the snow. / Who made the tracks? Where do they go?" When this little girl wakes up to fresh snow, she gets curious about a set of tracks outside. Bundled up in a warm red coat and a striped scarf, she sets out to follow them. She discovers a woodchuck snuggled up safe in a burrow, and does snow angels as she looks at the empty branches of the trees. But her feet are getting colder, and she's getting tired... will she ever find out who made the tracks? Just as she's about to give up, she realizes that these tracks are hers from the day before — and they're leading her home to a warm, cozy kitchen with tea and cookies! This sweet book is a celebration of snow, winter, and home sweet home.
This little girl and her mother are making bee-bim bop: a traditional Korean dish of rice mixed with meat and vegetables. In rhyming text, the hungry girl talks about all the steps: shopping for the best ingredients, preparing them all at home, and setting the table patiently (even though she is "Hungry hungry hungry / for some BEE-BIM BOP!") Finally, the whole family gets to sit down together for a delicious meal. Steeped in the details of a modern Korean American family's life, and full of exuberant illustrations that capture the narrator's excitement, this book even includes the author's recipe so you can try your own bee-bim bop at home.
Saturday is for swimming lessons... and this little girl hates them. It's too loud, the floor is too wet, her swim cap is too tight, and she has a stomachache! Fortunately, her kind swimming instructor, Mary, knows just how to gently urge her to take one step each week... and before long, she discovers that swimming day is fun. This story will be relatable to any child who's found something a little too new and scary to dive in — but urges them to find the combination of courage and patience they need to face their fears.
On a hot summer day, this little girl finds all sorts of ways to entertain herself: butterfly catching, swimming, picnics, and lemonade are just the beginning! Nighttime brings its own special things to explore: owls, frogs, and more. But even this bundle of energy can’t stay awake forever, and soon she’s dreaming of more adventures to come! This cute story celebrates the small but special details of summer. Fans of this story will want to check out two other books starring this irrepressible girl, Tracks In The Snow and Who Likes Rain?.
Danbi is excited for her first day of kindergarten — at a new school in America! But when she arrives, she gets a case of nerves: everyone stares when she arrives, and while she tries to join in, she doesn't know the routines of the dances or the rules of all the games. How will she ever find a way to fit in? The answer, it turns out, is food — her classmates are fascinated and delighted by her traditional Korean lunch! Soon, she's teaching them to use chopsticks (with hilarious results) and leading everyone on a fun-filled parade. This exuberant character conveys a powerful message about navigating two cultures, including the reminder that when we share the things that make us unique, we can find friendship wherever we go.
When this little girl sets out to help her mother plant their garden in the spring, she can't help but compare their plants to the beautiful flowers their neighbors are growing. Why do her friends all get to grow colorful blossoms while she has to help tend a boring vegetable patch? But her mother assures her that "these are better than flowers," and when harvest time comes — and her mother starts cooking up a huge pot of vegetable soup — those ugly Chinese vegetables draw the whole neighborhood together, eager for a taste. Lin's story is now available in a new anniversary edition, and comes with a guide for the pronunciation of Chinese vegetable names and a recipe for Ugly Vegetable Soup.
Yoon's name is beautiful in Korean: it means Shining Wisdom, and the characters look like dancers. But now she's living in America — and in English, where all the letters are just lines and circles, YOON doesn't seem like such a lovely name. At school, she experiments with different names. She tries CAT for a while, then BIRD (who would be able to fly back home to Korea.) And after a classmate offers her a treat as a gift, she even considers calling herself CUPCAKE. As time goes on, though, Yoon realizes that, no matter what, she is still Yoon: "I write my name in English now. It still means Shining Wisdom." Spare but compassionate text and luminous illustrations that capture Yoon's hesitation in her new home make this a powerful immigration story that's sure to build empathy.
Binny wakes up nervous but excited: it's finally her day to share at school! She's going to tell her classmates all about Diwali, the Festival of Lights. But how can she explain how beautiful Diwali is? When her shyness rises, Binny remembers how light wins over darkness, and draws strength from that to describe her favorite holiday: the delicious pedas and jalebis, the colorful fireworks, and more. And she even brings diyas, clay lamps, for her friends to admire! With vivid illustrations and a story that celebrates all the joy and light of this celebration, this picture book is a lovely introduction to this special holiday.
When Sakura's dad gets a new job in America, Sakura struggles with culture clash and learning a new language, but most of all she misses her beloved grandmother, Obaachan, who used to picnic with her under the cherry trees. Slowly, though, she makes a new friend and starts to settle in... until Obaachan gets sick, and the family has to fly back to Japan to say goodbye. When she gets home, her friend Luke tells her she'll get a surprise in the spring — and Sakura is delighted to see the cherry trees that bloom in her own neighborhood, bringing warm memories and special time with new friends. This warmhearted, thoughtful story celebrates the healing power of friendship and the beauty of spring.
Amy Wu is good at lots of things, including eating bao (which she admits she sometimes does all day.) But she's not good at making bao; no matter how hard she tries, her bao are too full, too empty, or they leak their filling all over the place. This time, Amy is determined to make the perfect bao. Readers follow along as her father makes the dough, her mother makes the filling, and Amy tries and fails yet again... until she comes up with an "Amy-size" solution that lets her finally achieve her goal! This charming story will speak to anyone who has struggled with learning a skill. A bao recipe at the end will encourage kids to try making their own — as will a note that "not-so-perfect bao" are just as delicious to eat!
After being inspired by her grandfather's beautiful playing on a recent trip to Japan — both classical music and fascinating imitations of natural sounds — Hana decides to take violin lessons. Now, she's signed up for the talent show even though she's only had three lessons! Her brothers insist that the performance will be a disaster, but Hana takes a page from Ojiichan's book and practices every day. And when last-minute jitters rear their heads, she draws on him for inspiration one last time — before bringing the house down! This sweet, quiet story is a lesson in the value of practice and dedication, as well as a reminder that grandparents don't have to live next door to influence their grandchildren's lives.
Big sister Hazel is excited for her little sister Twig's first birthday, where she will have her doljabi: she'll choose an object that will tell her fortune. Everyone is making guesses about what Twig will pick: a book, and be a scholar? A lute, for a musician? Maybe a hammer, for a builder? Hazel teaches Twig about all the other party preparations — from dandelion kimchi to the details of the doljabi — and when Twig makes an unexpected selection, Hazel is the one who knows exactly what it means. This sweet story based on Korean culture and traditions includes a glossary of Korean words at the back.
Neela and her amma love cooking together — and Neela especially loves when they cook family recipes, which help her feel closer to her paati who lives far, far away in India. Today, they're at the green market buying tomatoes to make Paati's famous sauce! Neela learns about all the different kinds of tomatoes they could choose from, and helps Amma choose just the right ones... and when they're done making the delicious sauce, Neela savors both the flavor and the knowledge that, someday soon, she'll get to share it with Paati! Bestselling author and TV host Padma Lakshmi and Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator Juana Martinez-Neal have created a stunning tribute to food, family, and the joy of connecting with other cultures.
Unhei has just moved to America from Korea with little but clothes and a name stamp from her grandmother. She's already figured out that people in America struggle to pronounce her name, so rather than introducing herself on her first day at school, she announces that she wants suggestions for a new name. Her classmates are fascinated, and start filling a big glass jar with "proper" American names like Suzy and Amanda. But when one of her classmates overhears her Korean name, the Name Jar mysteriously goes missing, allowing Unhei to embrace introducing herself by her real name (complete with a pronunciation lesson, Yoon-hey) — and helps her classmate choose a Korean nickname: Chinku,which means friend. This touching story is also an empowering reminder that no one should have to give up their name or identity to fit in.
"Some people eyes like sapphire lagoons / with lashes like lace trim on ballgowns," observes the Mighty Girl in this story. Her own eyes are different: they "kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea." Her eyes, in fact, look like those of other women in her life: her Mama, who sees her as "a miracle"; her Amah, who has so many stories to tell; her little sister Mei-Mei, who adores her. Her eyes also remind her of her family's traditions, from the folklore Amah shares to the upside-down Fú character by her family's door that brings good fortune. Empowering, poetic, and full of love for both self and family, this is a gorgeous picture book that celebrates the deeper meaning behind our diverse backgrounds and stories.
Suki's grandmother visited her over the summer, and she brought a special gift: a blue cotton kimono. On the first day of school, Suki wears her precious kimono to school, and when her teacher asks what she did over the summer, she decides to tell the story of joining a circle dance with her obachan at a local street festival. In fact, she gets so caught up in the story that, soon, she's humming the music and dancing away! This story of an exuberant little girl who literally dances to her own drummer is also a great way to celebrate how our differences make our world richer.
When she is a newborn, Nanda's world is tiny, but as she grows, so does her world. It starts to include extended family and friends, and more places, from the city to the countryside. Soon, she is exploring all the wonders it has to offer, from the tiny — patterns in snowflakes — to the big — cogs, wheels, and engines. She learns to fly her own plane and, finally, blasts off to outer space as an astronaut — where she looks back at Earth, "a circle called home." This lyrical book celebrates curiosity, wonder, the joys of discovering your passions, and the beauty of our world.
Miyuki's grandfather wants to get her ready for bed — but she can't go yet! There are too many things she has to do, from watering the vegetables to building a canopy for the Dragonfly Queen's grand arrival. Miyuki's patient grandfather goes along with her imaginative plans, but gently reminds her over and over, "Miyuki, it's time for bed." When her creative ideas finally guide her to curl up someplace cozy, she realizes there's one more thing she needs: a story.... This charming story, which captures Japanese culture, nature, and the love of family, is perfect for any child who's tried to delay bedtime — and any caretaker who's tried to hurry it along. For two more book starring this imaginative girl, check out Patience, Miyuki and Thank You, Miyuki.
6-year-old Chong is very excited: today is his little sister's first birthday! Sara Mee is all dressed up in her silk hanbok, and the whole family is gathering to enjoy traditional Korean celebrations — including the toljabee, a prophecy game that predicts what Sara Mee will be when she grows up. Throughout the party, Chong wonders what she will choose, so he's delighted when he's told he can present the game pieces to his sister. And when she chooses the paintbrush, indicating a future as an artist, he's quick to give her paper and crayons to start drawing pictures... while he writes the story that goes along with them. This colorful and loving tale is a celebration of siblings and the blending of traditions.
Ling and Ting are identical twins, and they stick together, whether they are making dumplings, getting their hair cut, or practicing magic tricks. But looks are deceiving — people can be very different, even if they look exactly the same. In six short chapters, Ling and Ting go on five different escapades — each of which ends with a punchline that will get readers giggling — and then the final chapter ties all the stories together. But what really shines through in this book is the relationship between these two sisters, full of fun and love. Fans of this book can read more about Ling and Ting's further adventures in the second book, Ling & Ting Share A Birthday.
World-record-holding rock climber Ashima Shiraishi provides a lesson in perseverance and resilience, straight from the rock face! In rock climbing, a boulder is called a "problem," and just like any other problem, it can seem "tremendously endless" when you're looking up at it. As the illustrations depict 13-year-old Ashima tackling a challenging rock face — complete with a boldly depicted, breathless fall — she talks about how you can overcome these obstacles, especially with help from your family. And when she makes it to the top of her problem, Ashima reminds young readers that achieving your goal is the best feeling in the world. This inspiring picture book includes back matter about Ashima's groundbreaking climbing career.
Mei Mai is curious when she sees Gong Gong practicing tai chi in the garden — so she decides to join in! Although Gong Gong patiently teaches her the slow, gentle movements, Mei Mei has a little too much energy, and bounces and bobs rather than swaying. Then Mei Mei offers to teach Gong Gong a few of the yoga poses she learned at school... but Gong Gong's body doesn't bend or stretch nearly as well as hers does! In the end though, each agrees that the other's moves are "perfect," and both have enjoyed their time exploring new things together. This sweet story about valuing the process as much as the result — and about the relationship between grandfather and granddaughter — includes guides to the tai chi and yoga moves in the story.
As a child, Ruth Asawa loved working with her hands on her parents' farm — and she loved observing all the tiny details around her. When she grew up, she went to Black Mountain College, following an experimental program where she studied with artists and thinkers of all sorts. And when she traveled to Mexico and saw people crafting wire into baskets, she knew she had found the perfect way to express herself. This elegant picture book biography provides a beautiful introduction to Asawa's life and exquisite sculpture, and even includes directions so kids can try folding their own paper dragonflies. For another picture book about Asawa, check out Ruth Asawa: A Sculpting Life for ages 5 to 9.
Laura Iwasaki's family is visiting her grandfather's grave at the Manzanar internment camp one last time: the family is moving from California to Boston and want to pay their respects before they go. Laura's grandfather, a tuna fisherman, died at the camp, never again seeing his beloved ocean. As a token for the grandfather she never met, Laura has brought a heartbreaking piece of family history: her father's Boy Scout neckerchief, which her grandfather urged him to wear on the day they were transported to the camp: "That way they will know you are a true American and they will not take you." This powerful and thought-provoking picture book serves as a reminder that while the past cannot be changed, the most important thing we can do is ensure that such wrongs are not repeated.
Hazel Ying Lee was one of eight siblings — but everyone agreed that she was the fearless one! And when she took her first ride in an airplane at the age of 19, she knew she wanted to be a pilot. But in a time when women didn't fly — and when Chinese Americans were required to carry identification at all times — being a pilot seemed out of reach; plus, her mother thought it wouldn't be ladylike. Lee disagreed, and when the Women Airforce Service Pilots were established during World War II, she finally got the chance to achieve her dream. This picture book biography of the first Chinese American woman to fly for the US military is a celebration of passion and a tribute to a groundbreaking woman who refused to take no for an answer.
Juna loves collecting treasures in empty kimchee jars with her best friend Hector — until the day he moves away without even getting to say goodbye. Juna’s older brother, Minho, sees her sadness and gives her small gifts hoping to cheer her up, including a cricket. But it’s not until Juna’s vivid imagination takes her on a cricket ride to Hector’s new bedroom — complete with a kimchi jar still on the windowsill — that she’s reassured enough to be ready to make new friends. This sweet and dreamy story explores how kids can overcome sadness and find new friends through the power of imagination.
Wu Chien Shiung's name meant "Courageous Hero," and her parents supported her in achieving her dreams: at a time when most girls in China didn't attend school, they encouraged her love of science. When she faced prejudice, they urged her to "Just put your head down and/ keep walking forward." Wu would end up traveling to the US, where her work on parity and beta decay helped drive physics forward — but because of prejudice against both her race and her sex, she was overlooked for both promotions and the Nobel Prize. This bittersweet but inspiring biography from the People Who Shaped Our World series introduces young readers to a little-known trailblazing women in physics.
Anna's family has just adopted a baby girl from China, and she is determined to be the best big sister. But despite the family's best efforts, Kaylee isn't thriving, and the doctor is worried. When Anna's friend Camille manages to feed Kaylee a few bites by singing, Anna, Camille, and their other friend Laura set on a plan: a science project that explores whether music will help Kaylee get enough to eat — and whether American songs or Chinese songs are best! This warm-hearted sequel to The Year of the Book celebrates a devoted big sister's love for the family's new arrival.
Under the warm sun, Mari is taking an art class... but how can she think about drawing pretty pictures when she's living in Topaz, a Japanese-American internment camp, which is a forlorn place where nothing seem to grow? Slowly, though, Mari begins to see glimmers of hope: kind words from her art teacher, love from her parents, and a slowly growing friendship. Perhaps, even though everything around her seems wrong, she can still find a way to build a happy life. This sensitive book is a testament to the power of hope and to the resiliency of children to overcome prejudice, discrimination, and hate.
Gyo Fujikawa always felt like an outsider, even when she was growing up in California, and she dreamed of an America where people would see themselves represented on every page. Then, in World War II, while she worked in New York as an illustrator, her family was forced into an internment camp in Arkansas. It made her even more determined to create an inclusive world. Her book Babies was rejected by her publisher at first — a spread with black and white babies together was too controversial, they thought, in an America where segregation still ruled. But she persisted, and Babies would sell almost two million copies, paving the way for a vibrant, diverse world. Kyo Maclear and Julie Morstad have created an elegant book — part picture book biography, part celebration of racial diversity — that will inspire both kids and adults.
13-year-old Alice knows there is a war across the sea, but it hasn't changed her life in Hawaii — she swims, she goes to school, and she watches her younger siblings, just like so many girls her age. But in 1941, that suddenly changes. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor shocks the nation. Alice survives the attack, but when President Roosevelt declares war on Japan, Japanese-American families like hers find their lives turned upside down. Her father is sent to an interment camp, and Alice and the rest of her family have to figure out how to get by without him, while also facing rising discrimination against people with Japanese heritage. This powerful book from the Girls Survive series puts a personal face on this piece of American history, highlighting the great tragedy of the internment of Japanese-American citizens during the war.
When Tara's mother announces they're traveling to Thailand to explore their Thai heritage, Tara is annoyed: she'd rather be home with her friends over Christmas. Plus, it's a long way to travel for a country she doesn't feel any connection to! But Tara gets overruled, and soon she's staying with her mother in Phuket. Then, on the day after Christmas, disaster strikes: a massive tsunami sweeps through the resort, destroying everything in its path. Tara will have to fight to survive as she struggles to find her mother — and hopes that she's alive. This nail-biting story from the Girls Survive series brings the 2004 earthquake and tsunami to vivid life, and includes backmatter with an overview on the disaster, photos, maps, and more.
12-year-old Lily and her family live in Chinatown in San Francisco, where the Chinese-American community is like a city within the city. But when an enormous earthquake strikes, Lily's home collapses, and her neighborhood catches fire. Without her parents, Lily has to help her younger brother and her neighbor, and it soon becomes clear they need to leave San Francisco. But how can they make their way safely through a city on fire and across the bay to Oakland — especially when Chinese-Americans face racism on the best of days? This nail-biting entry in the Girls Survive series puts a personal face on the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, and includes backmatter to help young readers further explore this historic disaster.
Everyone in her new school thinks Avani is weird, especially the girls in her Flower Scouts troop. Is it so strange to think scouting should be about fun and adventure, not about makeovers and boys, boys, boys? Then Avani is accidentally abducted by Mabel, an alien from across the galaxy. It turns out that Mabel is a Star Scout, and collecting alien specimens is just one of the activities on her troop’s list. If Avani can make it through Camp Andromeda — and prevent her dad from realizing she’s left the planet — she’ll prove that humans can hold their own in the Star Scouts and finally find a place to belong. Kids will devour this fun sci-fi romp full of teamwork, inventiveness, and laughs. Avani's adventures continue in the sequel, Star Scouts: The League of Lasers.
It's the start of the Year of the Dog, and 4th grader Pacy's Chinese horoscope says that this is the year she will “find herself.” But it’s hard struggling to meld her Taiwanese background with American culture! In the end, after wrestling with friends, crushes, and schoolwork, it’s having the courage to enter a contest that will give Pacy a clue about her future path. Grace Lin, beloved author of both picture books and middle grade novels, shines in this semi-autobiographical debut novel full of universal themes of friendship, family, and finding your passion. This charming coming-of-age novel is sure to speak to any reader who feels like it takes courage just to be herself.
Soledad and Ming inherited a lively imagination from their mother, Mei-Mei, a consummate storyteller. After her death, the girls move with their father from the Philippines to the United States where he marries their "evil stepmother" Vea — and promptly abandons the family. Now Sol is trying to use her mother's storytelling tricks to keep Ming's spirits up (along with her own) by elaborating Mei-Mei's stories of a made-up Aunt Jove, who will surely swing through and rescue them both any day. But when Ming starts to believe Aunt Jove is real, Sol wonders if she's made the right decision. Perhaps what Sol really needs to do for her sister — and herself — is find a way to embrace their new country and new reality, stepmother and all. This is a heartfelt tale about imagination, sisterhood, and finding hope.
Everything seems to be going against Karma: her best friend has found a blonder best friend; her beloved dadima has passed away; her father has become the new stay-at-home parent while her mother spends most of her time at work; and perhaps worst of all, she's spotted seventeen hairs sprouting on her upper lip. As her classmate's taunts about her mustache grow, Karma wonders if someone like her — half White and half Indian, half Methodist and half Sikh — belongs anywhere. In the tradition of Judy Blume, this charming novel tackles topics such as body hair, self-image, and bullying as one girl learns how to define her own destiny.
Lucy Wu has big plans for sixth grade: she's going to perfect her basketball skills, plan her future business as a designer, and enjoy every second of having a bedroom all to herself! And then, just as quickly, it all falls apart. Lucy's grandmother's sister, Yi Po, is coming to visit for months — and staying in Lucy's room. A bully tries to get Lucy off the basketball team. And now she has to go to Chinese school where she has to deal with a very know-it-all classmate. But as Lucy learns more about her Chinese heritage — and about herself — she might just find the good news in all this disruption. This funny and authentic story will encourage kids to see the bright side, even when all their plans go awry.
When Shirley Temple Wong arrives in American in 1947, she doesn't know any English, and it seems like she'll never find a friend — or fit in. Then Jackie Robinson, the trailblazing baseball star from her new hometown team, the Brooklyn Dodgers, starts making news around the country. Shirley quickly finds herself drawn into stickball games with classmates, and joining them as they cheer him on through victory after victory! For the first time, Shirley feels like America really could be the promised land of opportunity... and like it could start to feel like home. This charming story about a Chinese immigrant girl finding connection with her peers through the all-American sport is perfect for fans of Jennifer Holm and Thanhhà Lại.
12-year-old Cici is trying to get comfortable in her new Seattle home, but she misses so many things about Taiwan — especially her grandmother, A-má, who's about to celebrate her 70th birthday. When she learns that there's a cooking contest with a $1000 prize, it seems like the perfect opportunity: that much money would let her buy A-má a ticket to Seattle. But Cici only knows how to cook Taiwanese food, and her classmates' reaction to her lunchbox tells her THAT won't do. As she draws inspiration from Julia Child and wrestles with fitting in with friends while also staying true to herself, Cici may discover that differences can be something to savor! This delightful graphic novel celebrates food, family, and finding your place in a new home.
12-year-old Kaia loves doing special effects for movies — and she loves listening to her 90-year-old great-grandfather Tatang's Filipino folk tales. She's even planning to use them as inspiration for a short movie she and her friends are making for a contest! But then she learns another story from Tatang, this one historical: how he fought with the U.S. military in World War II, only to be denied his promised citizenship and the medal he should have won. He's even considering moving back to the Philippines, and Kaia can't bear to imagine him leaving — but maybe if she wins the contest she can convince him to stay. This warm, tender story celebrates the joy of intergenerational relationships while also exploring the overlooked history of Filipino Americans.
Kiki has alwasy struggled with worry, but now her anxiety is running away with her — and the only way she can ease it is drawing in her sketchbook, where she's created a magical world called Mysore inspired by her mother's Indian myths and legends. But when the characters on its pages spring to life, Kiki ends up falling into Mysore, where she gets to meet the band of characters she created that protect the kingdom... and learns that their fearsome enemy, the demon king Mahishasura, is hoping to take over both the imaginary world and the real one. Kiki created this world, so she has a responsibility to protect it — but that means learning to face her fears and discover her own power. This thrilling fantasy adventure, perfect for fans of Aru Shah and the End of Time, is both an action-packed romp and an empathetic look at living with anxiety.
Christine Hong is a dutiful Chinese-American daughter who accepts her parents' strict expectations without complaint... until Moon moves in next door. Moon doesn't attend Chinese language lessons; she's vegetarian; and she carries herself with a confidence that Christine both scorns and envies. Despite their differences the two become close friends, close enough that Moon tells Christine about her visions of celestial animals. But when those visions turn out to be from an earthy — and dangerous — cause, Christine needs to figure out how to be a good daughter and a good friend. Author/illustrator Jen Wang draws on her own childhood for this poignant and funny friendship story that will speak to anyone who's felt out of place.
Aru Shah tells fibs to fit in with her jet-setting classmates, but it backfires when several of them show up at the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture and demand she prove her claim that the museum's Lamp of Bharata is cursed. Lighting the lamp releases the Sleeper, an ancient demon who wants to wake the God of Destruction. With her classmates and mother frozen in time, Aru will need to seek legendary heroes from the Mahabharata — and discover unexpected gifts of her own — but will it be enough to save the day? This exciting adventure rooted in Indian mythology is perfect for fans of Rick Riordan. Aru's adventures continue in the rest of the Pandava series.
Pakistani American Amina prefers to stay in the background, hanging out with her friend, Soojin. But with the start of middle school, things are changing fast: Soojin is hanging out with one of the "cool" girls, and is even talking about picking an "American" name, while Amina's uncle believes that her love of music is un-Islamic. Then, Amina's mosque is vandalized, leaving her heartbroken. She's never spoken out before, but when she finds the courage and support she needs to make her voice heard, maybe she can bring her whole community together. This book celebrates the complexity and joys to be found in multicultural communities, as well as the power of one person's voice to change those around her. Amina's story continues in the sequel, Amina's Song.
12-year-old Faryn Liu wants to be a warrior in the Jade Society — but since her father disappeared, she and her brother Alex have been outcasts. On a trip into Chinatown to get her Ye Ye's medicine, though, Faryn helps a stranger in a battle with a nián monster. The stranger turns out to be Erlang Shen, the god of war, who urges Faryn to attempt a challenge from the Jade Emperor that could win her the fabled title of Heaven Breaker. With her brother — and a few unlikely allies — Faryn will have to see if she has what it takes... and if she's willing to make the sacrifices necessary. This magical adventure full of humor and heart, and starring a multiracial protagonist determined to prove herself, will delight middle grade readers and leave them eager for the sequel.
11-year-old Sonali has been holding her emotions in — even though that's tough when she thinks her parents are going to separate. But when she can't contain her feelings on a school field trip, she's shocked when she bursts out into a Bollywood-style song and dance number! By the next day, her family has had a movie-perfect makeover, everyone around her is also breaking into song, and nobody seems to think it's weird. Maybe her mismanaged emotions have triggered this whole thing — but if so, how can she get everything back to normal? This magical novel, full of bright color and Bollywood cultural flair, uses whimsy and humor to convey and important message about handling tough feelings.
11-year-old Yumi would be a terrific stand-up comedian... if she had a stage to perform on, and the courage to do it. Instead, she stands out at school, where kids tease her for smelling like her parents' Korean restaurant, and she's a disappointment compared to her over-achieving, med-school-student sister. Her parents enroll her in hagwon — Korean summer school — in hopes that she'll win a scholarship to private school. Instead, she stumbles across a comedy camp... and accidentally takes the place of a girl who was registered for it. But keeping the deception going is a lot of work, and Yumi realizes she may have to admit what happened... even if it means disappointing literally everyone. This laugh-out-loud story about a girl struggling to find her place in both her culture and her family will delight middle grade readers.
11-year-old Kazu Jones is a would-be detective who's gotten herself in hot water a few times — with both her parents and the police — over false alarms. But there's a crew of dognappers in her neighborhood, and Kazu can't let justice go undone, so when she finds a lead, she recruits her own team, including her hacker best friend, her socially anxious dog Genki. Digging into the mystery draws the attention of the dognappers, though, and soon her beloved Genki could be the next dog to disappear! With its clever story full of fun twists and furry friends, this series opener is sure to please dog lovers and detective fans alike.
11-year-old Mimi feels like the least talented member of her big Indian-American family – but she's planning to change that by winning a local bakery's competition and becoming a celebrity chef, just like her idol. When Mimi meets a mysterious boy named Vik in the woods nearby – who helps her find ingredients you wouldn't expect in a forest in Massachusetts – she thinks it's the key to her success. But as her father and siblings start acting oddly, Mimi starts to wonder if the ingredients might be the cause... Fantasy and wonder draw readers in to this novel, but at its core is a timeless story of family, friendship, and finding your place in the world.
Manami's Japanese American family finds their lives turned upside down: it's 1942, and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour means they're being sent to an internment camp. Worst of all, Yujiin, her and her grandfather's beloved dog, isn't allowed to come. When Manami decides to try to smuggle Yujiin with them, she gets caught — and she has to abandon him halfway between their old home and the camp. Grief- and guilt-stricken, she becomes mute. She tries to cling to the hope that Yujiin will find a way to them, but if Manami is going to find peace — and her voice — she'll have to find a way to say goodbye to everything her family had to leave behind. This heartrending novel about a dark period of American history will help young readers put a human face to the stories from their textbooks.
Bea is a Taiwanese-American budding poet whose writing is providing her small solace in a turbulent time: she's starting seventh grade with no friends thanks to an embarrassing moment at a party, and she's about to go from only child to big sister. She writes haikus in invisible ink and hides them in a secret spot... and then someone writes back. The identity of her secret friend takes a while to untangle, and in the meantime she starts connecting with other classmates, including Will, who's obsessed with the idea of walking a nearby labyrinth. Bea's past experience has taught her that being true to herself leads to loss, but this year, she might just learn how to claim an identity she's proud of.
Kiranmala's parents have always told her that she's a real Indian princess, and she's always rolled her eyes... until the morning of her twelfth birthday, when her parents disappear and a rakkhosh demon smashes into the kitchen of her New Jersey home! Then, two handsome princes show up at her door, insisting they are here to rescue her. As Kiran gets whisked away to a dimension of magic, wonder, and creatures she thought were Indian fairy tales, she'll have to learn fast to avoid the Serpent King and the Rakkhoshi Queen, find her parents, and save the world. Full of action, mythology, and magic, this book is a thrilling and fast-paced introduction to Kiran's world; she returns in the rest of the four-part Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond series.
No matter what's going on in Abbie Wu's life, she's sure it's going to be awful — and now she's starting middle school, which surely will mean even more potential pitfalls. Worst of all, everyone around her seems to be finding their Thing, and Abbie most definitely isn't, which leaves her feeling left out and left behind. But when Abbie learns 6th graders aren't allowed to eat the pizza and fries at the school cafeteria, she might just find her voice — and her Thing. This hybrid novel blends heavy illustration with casual, conversational text. Fans of this book will enjoy the sequels, Ordinary Mishaps and Inevitable Catastrophes and Minor Incidents and Absolute Uncertainties.
Julia and her best friend Patrick would love to win a blue ribbon at the state fair, so they need a top-notch project. Julia's mom suggests raising silkworms like she did as a child in Korea, and Patrick loves the idea. Julia, however, is tired of standing out for her background, and secretly hopes the "not American enough" project will fail — especially once she and Patrick start having trouble finding mulberry leaves, the only thing the silkworms will eat. As they get to know Mr. Dixon, an elderly African-American man who is willing to give them the leaves they need, and the silkworms start growing, the pair will wrestle with racism, life and death, and self-acceptance... together. This funny and poignant story also provides interesting details about silkworm life cycles and sustainable farming.
Natalie's botanist mother is suffering from depression, so Natalie has to figure out how to fix it. Her solution? Enter an egg drop competition, win the prize money, and use it to take her mother to see the cobalt blue orchids that survive in nearly impossible conditions — the ones her mother wrote about in her book How To Grow A Miracle. She's sure the sight of them will breathe some hope back into her mother's life. With the help of her friends, Twig and Dari, Natalie gets to work... but in the end, she'll learn that sometimes talking is the best way to grow the miracle you need. This book sensitively explores the impact of depression on both an individual and on the people who love them.
10-year-old Mia Tang has a lot of secrets. She lives in a motel, not a house, and while her immigrant parents clean the rooms, Mia manages the front desk. Her parents hide immigrants — and if the mean motel owner, Mr. Yao, finds out, the Tangs will be doomed. And she wants to be a writer, even though her mom thinks English being her second language means Mia should stick to math. With enough courage, determination, and kindness, however, Mia might be able to help out her family and the other immigrants and pursue her dreams. Based on author Kelly Yang's own experiences in the 1980s and 1990s, this engaging story offers young readers an eye-opening look at the immigrant experience and the power of one girl to make a difference. The story of Mia, her family, and the Calivista Motel continues in Three Keys.
Lou feels squashed and smothered in her grandmother's house, where she shares a room with her mom, so the woodshop-loving girl comes up with a solution: this summer, she's going to build a "tiny house,", which she can put on land she inherited from her dad when he died before she was born. But building a house is tricky (even when it's tiny) and worse, the land might have to be sold to pay off back taxes and fund a move. Fortunately, both Lou's devoted friends and her loving Filipino family are there to help her achieve her dream... even if it doesn't look quite like she imagined. Full of details about Filipino life and culture, this warm story celebrates the true meaning of home and family.
10-year-old Hà has lived her whole life in Saigon, and she loves everything about the city — the bustling markets, its unique traditions, and her very own papaya tree. But when the Vietnam War reaches the capital, Hà and her family are forced to flee. They make their way by boat to a tent city in Guam, then to Florida, and finally, to a new home in Alabama. To Hà, this new land is all wrong: her neighbors are cold, the food is dull, and even the landscape feels alien. Even still, thanks to the strength of her family and help from a teacher with a very unexpected connection to the country where she was born, Hà begins to find her own place in this new world. This National Book Award-winning novel is written in free verse. Fans of this story will enjoy the companion novel, Listen, Slowly.
14-year-old Hanna stands out in Dakota Territory in 1880: the half-Asian girl draws stares and prejudice wherever she goes. When she and her widowed father settle in LaForge, Hanna hopes to attend school before becoming a full-time dressmaker working in her father's dry goods shop. As she sets about to realize her dreams of getting an education and making at least one friend, Hanna draws on memories of her half-Chinese, half-Korean mother's quiet strength to persevere through the challenges she encounters. Narrated by Hanna, Prairie Lotus has poignant moments yet sparkles with humor, introducing a captivating heroine whose wry, observant voice will resonate with readers, especially Laura Ingalls Wilder fans.
11-year-old Lekha has carefully crafted two identities. At home, she's proud of her Indian heritage, but at school, she covers her bindi with her hair to avoid teasing, and makes sure to bring "normal" lunch food. When another Desi girl moves in across the street, Lekha figures there will finally be someone else who understands — but Avantika doesn't feel any need to hide her Indian heritage, and directly confronts bullies who mock her for it. Lekha's not sure she can be as brave, especially with a far-right candidate in her Detroit suburb proudly using the xenophobic slogan "Don’t like it? Leave." But when her family is targeted by racist vandalism, Lekha realizes that it's time for her to make her voice heard. This powerful novel, with its sympathetic narrator caught between fitting in and standing out, is perfect for readers who loved Front Desk and Amina’s Voice.
7th grader Lily's Korean grandmother always warned her: never make a deal with a tiger. But when Lily's family moves in to help Halmoni after she falls sick, a magical tiger straight out of her folk tales appears! The tiger tells Lily that Halmoni has been hiding stories that made her sad, and promises her that, if Lily releases the stories, her health will be restored. But just as Halmoni said, deals with tigers are not what they seem, and soon Lily realizes that, with the help of her sister and her friend Ricky, she needs to find her voice, face the things she's most afraid of, and recognize the power that stories have to remember the ones we love... even when they're gone. This stunning magical realism novel, based on Korean mythology, is a powerful look at the importance of letting go.
12-year-old Riley Oh is thrilled for her sister, Hattie, who's about to be initiated into the Gom clan, a lineage of Korean healing witches. She just wishes that she could join her — but Riley, who is adopted, is a saram, a person without magic. Then Hattie and Riley find a spell that could allow them to share Hattie's magic... but casting it violates the laws of the Godrealm. Now Hattie's life is at stake and Riley's only chance is to find the last fallen star to save her — and repair her fractured community. With the help of her best friend Emmett, Riley will overcome supposedly mythical creatures like an inmyeonjo, a dokkaebi, and gwisin — and discover the truth about her parentage. Graci Kim's first book in the Gifted Clans series is a powerful story of magic, sisterhood, and self-acceptance.
Priyanka Das is full of questions that her mother won't answer — about India, the homeland her mother abandoned, and about Pri's father, who she's never known. But when Pri stumbles across a pashmina in a forgotten suitcase, she discovers that it can transport her to a colorful, vivid world. Is this the real India, though, or just a product of her imagination — and what is that shadow lurking in the background? When her mother surprises her with a trip to the actual India, Pri might just find the answers to some of her questions. This heartfelt graphic novel explores sensitive issues like generational and culture clash and the search for identity.
The year has been anything but lucky for Summer: an emergency has taken her parents back to Japan, leaving Summer and her brother Jaz — and the family farm's harvest — in the hands of her demanding grandparents, Obaachan and Jiichan. Summer tries not to disappoint, but just when she thinks she's used up her train of bad luck, things get even worse, and Summer finds herself torn: please Obaachan, or rescue the family fortunes. Or maybe there's a way to do both... This National Book Award winner is sure to be a favorite for Mighty Girls who find it hard to see eye to eye with their grandparents' expectations.
Sumiko was used to being teased as the only Japanese girl in her class, but after Pearl Harbor, things go from taunts to outright suspicion. Suddenly, she and her family have to leave her beloved home and flower farm for an internment camp in the middle of a hot, barren desert. But Sumiko and her family aren't the only ones facing discrimination: the camp is on a Mohave reservation. At first, the Mohave residents and the Japanese detainees are at odds, but as the get to know one another, they realize that they have much in common — including being viewed as second-class citizens. Through a friendship with Frank, a Mohave boy, and her own garden, Sumiko starts to see hope for a better future. Complex and emotional, this novel will get young adult readers thinking about the divisions we don't always see.
Katie Takeshima’s sister Lynn is the one who makes everything seem brighter, whether she's pointing out the simple things like the light on the ocean, or helping Katie with the challenges of being the only Japanese family in a 1950s Deep South town. But when Lynn becomes seriously ill, the job of making everything kira-kira — glittering and shining — falls to Katie. And when Lynn dies, Katie is determined to honor her sisters memory by making kira-kira a part of her life forever. This powerful story of optimism and sisterhood also captures the many challenges faced by immigrants in recent times.
12-year-old Hanako and her family were imprisoned by her own country in World War II, just because of their Japanese heritage, and then coerced into relinquishing their citizenship, forcing them to move to Japan. But their new country is in desperate straights post-war, including the small village outside of Hiroshima where her grandparents live. Compassionate Hanako wants to help, but her family doesn't even enough for themselves. Still, her grandfather's explanation about kintsukuroi — fixing broken items with gold lacquer to make them stronger and more beautiful — gives her hope for a future where her family is the gold that mends the wounds. Hanako shines in this emotional story about the aftermath of World War II and the Japanese internment.
When Young Ju's family moved to the US from Korea, she envisioned a heavenly future: a life of ease and wealth. Instead, her family struggles to fit in as they learn a new language and face cultural differences — and inside their home, her father's drinking and abusive behavior batters Young Ju's hopes. As she gets older, the respect and privilege granted her younger brother simply for being male frustrates her, and an American friend helps her start to see a future beyond her father's restrictions. And when Young Ju finds the courage to stand up for herself and her mother, one act may be the key to freedom. This gripping novel celebrates the power of claiming strength and seeking the future you deserve.
Jeanne Wakatsuki was seven years old when her family was moved to the Manzanar internment camp. There, she lived with with 10,000 other Japanese Americans, both recent immigrants and natural born citizens like her. She remembers the bizarre juxtaposition of barbed wire, spotlights, and armed guards with sock hops, baton twirling lessons, and a dance band that played hit songs — except for the current #1 on the charts, 'Don't Fence Me In.' This touching first-hand look at the internment experience raises questions about cultural pride versus assimilation; what cost a country is willing to pay for security; and how people can maintain their identities and their dignity under the force of prejudice and oppression.
Six years ago, Hằng tried to escape the Vietnam War with her brother, Linh; instead, American soldiers took him on board their plane and left her behind. After a brutal journey and time in a refugee camp, Hằng has finally made it to Texas and she's determined to find Linh. On the way, she meets LeeRoy, a would-be cowboy who drives her to Linh's adopted home — only for Hằng to discover that Linh doesn't remember her or Vietnam. Hằng refuses to give up on her brother, though, and LeeRoy won't leave her. As Hằng struggles with her trauma and her guilt about her brother, she and LeeRoy find their relationship evolving in ways neither expected. This powerful YA novel by the author of Inside Out & Back Again explores loyalty, family, and the deep impressions war leaves on its innocent victims.
Genie Lo is a top athlete and overachiever who spends her days planning how she'll get into Harvard — until her hometown is suddenly under attack by creatures straight out of Chinese folklore. That's when she learns that Quentin Sun, the handsome transfer student who just arrived at her school, is actually Sun Wukong, the Monkey King. Now, Genie will have to figure out how to save her Bay Area life from its parallel supernatural world — without missing out on a chance to ace her SATs. This thrilling fantasy adventure debut is an absolute delight, and readers will love continuing Genie's story in the sequel, The Iron Will of Genie Lo.
In 1849, Samantha's dreams of moving to New York to be a professional musician seem out of reach: how can a girl, let alone a Chinese-American girl, achieve such a thing? But after a family tragedy and an incident that leaves her on the run from the law and fearing for her life, those dreams are the last thing on her mind. With the help of Annamae, a runaway slave, Samantha head for the Oregon Trail, where the newfound friends disguise themselves as boys for protection. With the law closing in on them, but some unexpected allies in their corner, the girls will have to fight for their safety and their freedom.
Mei is seventeen and a freshman at MIT: skipping fourth grade was part of her parents' plan for her to become a doctor, marry a bright Taiwanese man, and have plenty of children. And she knows her parents have sacrificed to get her there, so she feels tremendously guilty that she hates medicine and that her current crush is definitely not Taiwanese. But when she reconnects with her estranged brother, who dated the wrong woman and ended up disowned, she realizes that an authentic life is worth pursuing. Both funny and touching, many kids will recognize themselves in Mei's desire to find her own way.
17-year-old Jo Kuan just wants to keep herself and her adoptive father, two of the few Chinese Americans in 1890s Atlanta, safe — even if it means a job as an abused lady's maid. When she learns that the local newspaper needs someone to write an advice column, she applies anonymously and becomes "Miss Sweetie." Her column gives her an opportunity to challenge stereotypes, but that inevitably brings backlash. And when a letter to Miss Sweetie hints at the identities of the parents who abandoned Jo as a baby, she has to decide if the search — which includes seeking help from a notorious criminal — is worth exposing herself. Stacey Lee, the critically-acclaimed author of Under a Painted Sky, explores identity and the effects of discrimination on marginalized people.
Lara Jean Song has had five crushes, but she's never dated; instead, she's written love letters to each boy that she keeps in a hatbox her mother gave her before she died. They seem like a safe way for her to pour out her feelings while dealing with life as the middle sister in a Korean-American family. But this year, things are changing: her big sister Margot is leaving for college (and breaking up with Josh, the boy next door that Lara Jean liked first), and Lara Jean suddenly finds herself in charge of her younger sister, Kitty. And when her secret letters get mailed by accident, Lara Jean suddenly gets a chance at love — if she's willing to take it. Full of compelling twists, charming characters, and sweet romance, this series opener will delight teen readers. All three books in Lara Jean's story are also available in the To All The Boys I've Loved Before Collection.
Claire Wang is a high school junior living in privilege in Shanghai — until one bad grade too many results in her parents turning her into a "parachute," a teenager who gets dropped off with a host family in the US to study. Her new host sister, Dani De La Cruz, is Filipina American and lives a totally different life from Claire, excelling academically but forced to clean houses to make ends meet. The two seem unlikely to be friends — especially once Claire starts dating Jay, a fellow parachute and Dani's crush — but when both girls experience sexual harassment and assault, they learn about how money, power, and male privilege work... and how they can support one another as they raise their voices against it. This powerful modern immigrant story is sure to prompt discussion about race, identity, and justice.
In the midst of World War II, German-American Margot and Japanese-American Haruko have been ripped from their homes and forced into a "family internment camp" based solely on where their parents used to live. The girls don't have much in common, but they are drawn to one another because of their family troubles: Haruko is afraid for her soldier brother and wonders what her father is hiding, while Margot is afraid her mother will lose her pregnancy and has to watch her rational father get courted by Nazis. But can they rely on their friendship, or is the camp truly full of spies? Author Monica Hesse drew on extensive research to create this nuanced and complex look at the impact of America's internment of its own citizens.
Korean-American Desi Lee is an overachiever in everything — except for romance. But when she meets Luka, a transfer student she decides is too good to miss, she decides it's time to devote the same focus to flirting that she has to servicing a carburetor or becoming valedictorian. Her guide will be the Korean dramas that her widowed father watches obsessively; Desi even creates 24 "K Drama Steps to True Love." Real life isn't quite like a K drama, but even Desi's missteps have a lot to teach her about love, identity, and acceptance. Funny and thoughtful, teens will love Desi and her determined approach to romance.
When Leigh Chen Sanders' mother died, Leigh is convinced that she turned into a bird — and she's determined to find it, and not to think about how she kissed her best friend (and longtime crush) Axel on the same day her mother took her own life. As she tries to process her grief, Leigh travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. In her search for the bird, she seeks out places that were important to her mother, and uncovers family secrets, while also expressing herself through art. Part reality, part magic, this novel about recovery from grief and finding yourself is luminous and evocative.
Mercy Wong has "bossy cheeks" according to her Chinese fortuneteller mother, which make her ambitious and bold. It's 1906 in San Francisco, and she dreams of escaping the poverty of Chinatown, which the white residents of the city sneeringly call "Pigtail Alley." She manages to gain entrance to the prestigious St. Clare's School for Girls under pretense of being a Chinese heiress, and she thinks the hardest part will be avoiding the scrutiny of the headmistress. But when the city is struck down by an earthquake, Mercy's talent at leadership will help her schoolmates survive in the aftermath. This evocative novel by the author of Under A Painted Sky will leave readers questioning what they would do in the face of such a disaster.
Maya is trying to figure out the right time to tell her parents she's been accepted into a prestigious film school — and that she's more interested in dating a longtime (white) classmate than the Muslim boys her parents deem suitable. Then a young man — one who reportedly shares Maya's last name — commits an act of terror, and suddenly the anti-Muslim backlash seems to change everything. Maya must grapple with her Indian Muslim identity and the dreams she feels slipping away. This book explores fear, bigotry, and the experiences of second-generation immigrants with gentleness and heart.
Chuna and her mother have always been as close as could be, even if it's difficult living as the only child of a single mother in Seoul, Korea. But her life is turned upside down when the pair visit Huntsville, Alabama, and her mother suddenly announces that the relocation is permanent — and she's getting married. Chuna struggles with learning a new language, bullying both at school and by her stepfamily, and perhaps worst, feeling isolated from the mother who used to be the one person she could count on. Then one day, her mother enrolls the comics-loving girl in a drawing class — and Chuna, now going by Robin, discovers a future she never expected. This moving graphic memoir explores the challenges of immigration, the power of art, and the resilience of a strong mother-daughter bond.