Celebrating Women's History: Asian Pacific American Trailblazers

Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story

These books tell the stories of girls and women who refused to take no for an answer. During their lives, they made difficult and courageous decisions and journeys, perservering despite long odds and paving the way for those who followed.

For more great titles and activities, see the Trailblazers project from Reading Rockets' Start with a Book project!

Aani and the Tree Huggers

Age Level: 6-9

Based on true events in northern India, this is the story of a little girl's bravery. Distinctive color illustrations, inspired by Indian miniature painting, accompany the moving story.

Asian-Americans Who Inspire Us

Asian-Americans Who Inspire Us
Age Level: 6-9

This beautifully illustrated book shares engaging stories of 16 trailblazing Asian Americans. Among these biographies, readers will find heroes, discover role models, and meet ordinary people who did extraordinary things. Whether they were breaking Olympic records, bringing education to millions of people around the world, or speaking up for the rights of others, these Asian Americans broke stereotypes and took a stand to make the world a better place.

Good Fortune: My Journey to Gold Mountain

Age Level: Middle Grade (9-14)

Product Description: "In 1933, seven-year-old Li Keng's father decided to bring his family from a small village in southern China to California. Getting to America was not easy…life in America during the Great Depression brought many exciting surprises as well as a few disappointments. Hunger, poverty, police raids, frequent moves, and the occasional sting of racism were a part of everyday life, but slowly Li Keng and her family found stability and a true home in Gold Mountain."

Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom

A woman in a lab coat sits in front of books and physics symbols float around her.
Illustrated by: Rebecca Huang
Age Level: 3-6
Language: English

When Wu Chien Shiung was born in China 100 years ago, most girls did not attend school; no one considered them as smart as boys. But her parents felt differently. Giving her a name meaning “Courageous Hero,” they encouraged her love of learning and science. This engaging biography follows Wu Chien Shiung as she battles sexism and racism to become what Newsweek magazine called the “Queen of Physics” for her work on beta decay.

Sadako

Sadako
Illustrated by: Ed Young
Age Level: 6-9

This is a picture book edition of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, meant for younger readers. It tells the story of a girl dying of leukemia as a result of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story

By: Paula Woo
Illustrated by: Lin Wang
Age Level: 6-9
Language: English

Anna May Wong grew up in San Francisco in the 1920s, working diligently in her family's laundromat but secretly daydreaming of becoming a movie star. When she set out to realize her dream, she soon discovered the lack of opportunity in Hollywood for Asian American actors. After traveling in Europe and China, Anna May ultimately decided to portray only roles she felt presented a positive image of Asians, leading the way for the many actors who followed in her footsteps.

Sylvia & Aki

Sylvia & Aki
Age Level: Middle Grade (9-14)

Product Description: Sylvia Mendez never expected to be at the center of a landmark legal battle; all she wanted was to enroll in school. Aki Munemitsu never expected to be relocated to a Japanese internment camp in the Arizona desert; all she wanted was to stay on her family farm and finish the school year. The two girls certainly never expected to know each other, until their lives intersected in Southern California during a time when their country changed forever. Based on a true story.

The Fearless Flights of Hazel Ying Lee

The Fearless Flights of Hazel Ying Lee
Illustrated by: Julie Kwon
Age Level: 6-9

Hazel Ying Lee was born fearless—she was not afraid of anything, and the moment she took her first airplane ride, she knew where she belonged. When people scoffed at her dreams of becoming a pilot, Hazel wouldn't take no for an answer. She joined the Women Airforce Service Pilots during World War II. It was a dangerous job, but Hazel flew with joy and boldness.

The Last Princess: The Story of Princess Ka'iulani

Age Level: 6-9

Hawai'i was once an independent country ruled by a royal family. But, while Princess Ka'iulani was at school in England in the 1800s, the small island nation became part of the United States — and she never got a chance to become queen. This intriguing, quiet, bittersweet story presents a little known period and a real-life princess. It is a well-told and handsome book was created by a mother-daughter team.

The Song of Mu Lan

Age Level: 6-9

Jeanne M. Lee presents the ancient Chinese folk poem that tells the legend of Mu Lan. Dressed as a young man, Mu Lan goes to battle in her father's place and becomes a revered warrior even as those around her don't know her true identity. Beautifully detailed illustrations accompany the poem, as does a brief author's note. Bilingual English-Chinese.