Favorite Foods: Asian Pacific American Heritage

From special holiday recipes to family favorites, these stories celebrate delicious dishes and traditions passed from one generation to the next, as well as the blending of Asian Pacific and American cultures.

Apple Pie 4th of July

Illustrated by: Margaret Chodos-Irvine
Age Level: 6-9

"No one wants to eat Chinese food on the Fourth of July," says a young girl to her parents who insist on keeping their Chinese restaurant open on Independence Day. An honest portrayal of the tug between traditions old and new, as well as what it really means to be American.

Auntie Yang's Great Soybean Picnic

By: Ginnie Lo
Illustrated by: Beth Lo
Age Level: 3-6

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.

Bee-Bim Bop!

Illustrated by: Ho Baek Lee
Age Level: 3-6

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

Chachaji's Cup

Illustrated by: Soumya Sitaraman
Age Level: 6-9

Product Description: Neel loves listening to Chachaji's stories over steaming cups of tea. Chachaji's tales of great Hindu gods and demons, and of his adventures in the Indian Army, leave Neel openmouthed. But it is the tale of his great-uncle's favorite teacup that teaches Neel the most, for Chachaji's cup holds far more than sweet, spicy masala chai. It holds the story of a family and a country split in two during the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan. When the precious cup and Chachaji's health both prove to be more fragile than they look, Neel knows what he must do.

Cora Cooks Pancit

Illustrated by: Kristi Valiant
Age Level: 6-9

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.

Dim Sum for Everyone

By: Grace Lin
Age Level: 3-6

A Chinese family goes out for dim sum ("little dishes"), choosing their favorites off the restaurant cart and sharing with each other. The illustrations evoke the textures and patterns in this traditional meal, and an endnote provides background on the cultural history and customs surrounding dim sum.

Dumpling Soup

Illustrated by: Lillian Hsu-Flander
Age Level: 6-9

Product Description: Marisa gets to help make dumplings this year to celebrate the New Year, but she worries that no one will eat her funny-looking dumplings. Set in the Hawaiian islands, this story celebrates the joyful mix of food, customs, and languages from many cultures.

Fortune Cookie Fortunes

By: Grace Lin
Age Level: 3-6

The family's meal finishes with fortune cookies, the daughters' favorite part of eating out! They share their fortunes as their engaging look at the world shines through in the simple narration and boldly colored, entertaining illustrations.

Hiromi's Hands

Age Level: 6-9

Meet Hiromi, a young girl who wants to follow in her father's footsteps as a sushi chef in New York City. Although Papa is reluctant to take Hiromi to the fish market at first, he soon realizes that she is truly interested in his craft, and he begins to train his daughter, who will eventually become one of the first female sushi chefs in New York. Based on a true story, this story offers a kid-friendly and fascinating look into the art of sushi, as well as the possibilities that America offers in bringing different cultures together.

Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji

By: F. Zia
Illustrated by: Ken Min
Age Level: 6-9

Aneel's grandparents have come to stay, all the way from India. Aneel loves the sweet smell of his grandmother's incense, and his grandfather, Dada-ji, tells the world's best stories. When he was a boy, adventurous, energetic Dada-ji had the power of a tiger. He could shake mangoes off trees and wrangle wild cobras. And what gave him his power? Fluffy-puffy hot, hot roti, with a bit of tongue-burning mango pickle. Does Dada-ji still have the power? Aneel wants to find out — but first he has to figure out how to whip up a batch of hot, hot roti!

How My Parents Learned to Eat

Illustrated by: Allen Say
Age Level: 6-9

When an American sailor meets a Japanese woman, they both try in secret to learn the other's way of eating. Their courtship and growing love culminates in marriage. This realistic family story explores cultural similarities and differences and is told with humor and honesty by the couple's daughter.

Maggie's Chopsticks

Illustrated by: Isabelle Malenfant
Age Level: 3-6

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.

Tea with Milk

By: Allen Say
Age Level: 9-12

At home, Masako speaks Japanese and sips green tea with her parents. But at her friends' houses near San Francisco, May speaks English and enjoys pancakes and tea with milk and sugar. When May's parents decide to return to Japan, she feels lost. May finally begins to find her way in the big city of Osaka, where she makes a special friend who also speaks English — and drinks his tea with milk and sugar. Allen Say brings tenderness and humor to his mother's unforgettable story in this beautiful tribute to his parents.

The Have a Good Day Cafe

Illustrated by: Giselle Potter
Age Level: 6-9

Mike's Korean grandmother is still adjusting to her move to the U.S. While Mike helps her learn English, she helps the family, which owns a food cart, beat stiff competition. The family once did a good business serving pizza, bagels, and hot dogs on a busy corner, but now two other carts serving similar fare have moved in. Mike's idea — to serve delicious Korean specialties that only Grandma knows how to make — saves the business and also helps Grandma feel at home. — Booklist

The Ugly Vegetables

By: Grace Lin
Age Level: 6-9

In a neighborhood of flower gardens, a Chinese-American girl and her mother plant what the child considers to be ugly vegetables. The ugly vegetables, however, become attractive and help build community when made into a delicious soup! A recipe is included.

We Eat Rice

Illustrated by: Grace Lin
Age Level: 3-6

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 on Earth Is My Bagel?

Illustrated by: Grace Lin
Age Level: 6-9

Where on earth did Yum Yung get the urge to have a bagel? He has no idea, but desperate for one, he sends a message from his Korean village via pigeon to New York City for someone to send him one. While he waits, he asks the farmer, the fisherman, and the honeybee keeper for help, but none of them have ever heard of a bagel. Just after Yum Yung reaches Oh's Heavenly Bakery, the bird returns without a bagel, but with the recipe…With charming gouache illustrations that evoke the intricate and colorful patterns found in Korean fabrics, this story mixes up cultures quite nicely.