Board Books and More: Asian Pacific American Heritage
These books for babies and toddlers featuring Asian American characters or themes celebrate the fun of early learning, from recognizing different shapes, colors, and letters to exploring the neighborhood with a friend.
See more books for young children on our themed booklists!
At the Beach
Xiao Ming and his mother are spending a summer day at the beach, and the sand is the perfect place to draw characters for words such as "sand" and "water." Xiao Ming's mother helps him see the picture within each character — a trick sure to appeal to readers new to the Chinese written language. The colorful, intricate illustrations, created by cut-paper collages, will fascinate young children. This book is one of a four-part series by the author about Chinese characters related to the different seasons.
Auntie Yang's Great Soybean Picnic
While on a visit to her aunt and uncle in Illinois, the narrator and her family unexpectedly find a field of growing soybeans which begins a 40 year tradition. Based on the author's experiences, text and child-like illustrations reveal a caring, surprisingly modern family story from times past.
What's better than just eating a favorite dish? Anticipating it while preparing it, of course! Rhythmic, rhyming language and playful illustrations capture the joy of making this special Korean dish — and the joy of sharing it.
Country of origin: Korea
Join two best friends, an Asian Indian boy and girl, as they spend an active day outdoors running, climbing, sliding, and more. Spanish version available.
Cora Cooks Pancit
Cora wants to learn how to cook, but she's too young to do the jobs her older siblings do. One day, however, after the older kids have all gone out together, Cora asks her mother what they can cook together. To her surprise, Cora's mother asks her what she would like to make, and Cora chooses her favorite Filipino noodle dish, pancit. This family story about the importance of sharing tradition is brought to life by Kristi Valiant's charming illustrations and includes a bilingual glossary of Tagalog words.
Fortune Cookie Fortunes
Grandma Calls Me Beautiful
Beautiful asks Grandma to tell her their story, a story of bright eyes, swaying seaweed, and soft kapa cloth. No matter what, Grandma tells her granddaughter, she will be "Forever and for always, Beautiful." The lyrical text celebrates Hawaiian traditions and language, and watercolor illustrations evoke the lush hues of the Hawaiian islands.
Henry's First-Moon Birthday
Product Description: Jenny's baby brother Henry is having his one-month birthday — his first-moon, as it's called in Chinese. And even though Jenny's sure he doesn't deserve it (all Henry does is sleep, eat, and cry) there's a big celebration planned for him. Together, Jenny and her grandma get everything ready, from dyeing eggs a lucky red to preparing pigs' feet and ginger soup. And someday, when Henry's old enough to appreciate all her hard work, Jenny will tell him how lucky he was to have her in charge.
Hush! A Thai Lullaby
A loving mother asks animals from a water buffalo to a lizard to "hush" so her baby can sleep. Once the noises stop, the mother herself sleeps — and the baby is now awake! Textured illustrations evoke the Thai setting and convey the understated humor of this unique bedtime book.
In the Leaves
Xiao Ming and his friends are spending an autumn day on a farm, and it is the perfect place for him to show his friends how draw different Chinese characters for words such as "grain" and "fire." The colorful, gentle illustrations, created by cut-paper collages, will appeal to young children. This book is one of a four-part series by the author about Chinese characters related to the different seasons.
In the Park
Spring has arrived and Xiao Ming can't wait to spend the day in the park with his mother. All around them are signs of the season: insects flying, leaves on the trees, and flowers in bloom. Xiao Ming's mother teaches Xiao Ming how to write the words for these things in Chinese by first drawing pictures of them. Following the highly acclaimed At the Beach and In the Snow, this is Huy Voun Lee's third book on Chinese character writing.
In the Snow
Xiao Ming and his mother are spending a winter day in the forest, and the snow is the perfect place to draw characters for words such as "tree" and "sparkling." Xiao Ming's mother helps him see the picture within each character — a trick sure to appeal to readers new to the Chinese written language. The colorful, intricate illustrations, created by cut-paper collages, will fascinate young children. This book is one of a four-part series by the author about Chinese characters related to the different seasons.
The young narrator describes how she and her family each contribute to a handsome kite which they then enjoy flying. Signature illustrations show traditional Chinese kite designs combined with an author's note about kite history. The result is the celebration of an ebullient family tradition that readers may want to take up themselves!
Product Description: Poor Maggie struggles to master her chopsticks — it seems nearly everyone around the dinner table has something to say about the "right" way to hold them! But when Father reminds her not to worry about everyone else, Maggie finally gets a grip on an important lesson.
One Is a Drummer: A Book of Numbers
The Chinese-American girl introduced in Round Is a Mooncake (2000) and Red Is a Dragon (2001, both Chronicle) counts her favorite things. In bouncy verse, she engages in activities with her multicultural friends and family…A glossary gives two-sentence explanations for the Asian elements, from Eight Immortals to mahjong tiles, adding versatility and ethnic interest to the book without intruding on its simplicity. — School Library Journal
Peek!: A Thai Hide-and-Seek
The playful rhyming verses in this story from Thailand follow a game of hide-and-seek between a father and daughter as it moves from the house to the yard to the nearby streams and lush jungle. Vivid illustrations are done in watercolor and cut-paper collage.
Red Is a Dragon: A Book of Colors
Product Description: In this lively concept book a little girl discovers a rainbow of colors in the world around her. Red is a dragon in the Chinese New Year parade, yellow are the taxis she sees on her street, green are jade bracelets and the crunchy kale growing in her garden. Many of the featured objects are Asian in origin, and all are universal in appeal. With rich, boisterous illustrations, a fun-to-read rhyming text and an informative glossary, this colorful book will brighten every child's day!
Round Is a Mooncake: A Book of Shapes
A girl discovers things that are round, square, and rectangular in her urban neighborhood. A gently rhyming text and crisply lined illustrations reveal many things that are universally recognizable as well as others that come from the child's Chinese background.
Ten Days and Nine Nights: An Adoption Story
Product Description: Follow a little girl as she and her family prepare for the new baby that will soon be joining them. And simultaneously, watch the girl's mother fly off to Korea, meet the new baby, and bring her home. Here is a child-centric look at the adoption process through the eyes of a soon-to-be older sibling.
The Paper Crane
"A restaurant owner and his son lose their clientele when a new superhighway bypasses their street. When a poor man comes to them one evening, they gladly serve him a fine meal for pay. Before leaving, he gives his hosts a paper crane which will be a living, dancing bird when they clap their hands. The dancing crane brings crowds to the restaurant and prosperity to the kind owners as well as a joyful surprise to readers at the story's end.
The Seven Chinese Sisters
Sisters each use their special talent while working together to save the sister who was snatched by a not-too-scary dragon. Uncluttered illustrations add detail to the crisply told original tale likely inspired by a Chinese folktale.
Country of origin: China
The Trip Back Home
Based on the author's experience, a child visits the village in Korea where her mother lived before immigrating to America. The simplicity of the text provides rich details of everyday life in the small Korean village, enhanced by realistic illustrations.
Product Description: This entertaining book for young children features two adventurous toddlers on an afternoon romp through their backyard. As they blow bubbles, pull their wagon, dig in the sandbox, play hide-and-seek, ride on swings, and play with toys, young readers discover what comes in twos: hands, feet, eyes, ears, legs, and arms.
We Eat Rice
In this short book for beginning readers, a young Korean boy and girl share all of the different ways they like to eat rice, which are presented in colorful illustrations done by Grace Lin. A teacher's guide with early reading activities is available from the Lee and Low website. Also available in Spanish.
Where is my puppy?
A Vietnamese American boy searches all over the house for his puppy, who is always hiding just out of sight. Spanish version available.
See more great related resources and videos in our Multicultural Literature section!