Historical Fiction: Asian Pacific American Heritage (Grades 4-6)
From the story of a Korean orphan living in 12th-century Korea to the journey of Vietnamese refugees fleeing their country in the 1970s, these stories offer students in upper elementary and middle school a taste of adventure while bringing important historic events to life.
A Jar of Dreams
"I never thought one small lady from Japan could make such a big difference in my life, but she did." So begins Rinko's story about the time that Aunt Waka came to visit. From Mama's new business to Papa's new courage in standing up to Depression-era discrimination against the Japanese, Rinko can barely keep up with the way that everyone in the house (herself included) is changing. Rinko and her relatives are unforgettable characters whose stories are told with an easy familiarity, warmth, and gentle humor.
A Single Shard
Tree Ear, a homeless orphan, longs to work as a potter, a respected but competitive employment — especially for a boy who lives under a bridge. Set in 12th century Korea, this Newbery Medal winning novel is as relevant as if it were taking place today.
Chu-Mong, legendary leader of ancient Korea, suddenly appears — in the flesh! — in 12-year old Kevin's bedroom in his contemporary Dorcester, New York, home. Humor and tension build as ancient and modern come together in order to get Chu-Mong back to his own time and to take his rightful place in history.
Moon Shadow is only eight years old when he sails from China to join his father in San Francisco's Chinatown in the early 1900s. Readers travel through history, gaining insight about being Chinese in America in this thoroughly researched, riveting novel. Written for young adolescents, this Newbery Honor winner is part of the Golden Mountain Chronicles.
Good Fortune: My Journey to Gold Mountain
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."
Forced to leave the turmoil and political unrest of their native Vietnam, 13-year old Mai and her family cram into a boat and make way for Hong Kong and ultimately to America. Mai's voice provides a necessary distance as she chronicles the journey and its horrors in with even tone.
Lion Island: Cuba’s Warrior of Words
In this thought-provoking novel in verse, award-winning author Margarita Engle tells the story of Antonio Chuffat, a young man of African, Chinese, and Cuban descent who becomes a champion for civil rights in 19th century Cuba. "Like Antonio, readers will discover the power of words and the importance of documenting stories." (Horn Book)
Passage to Freedom: The Sugihara Story
As a young boy, Hiroki Sugihara lived in Lithuania, where his father was a diplomat. One morning, the family woke up to find a crowd of people outside of the house. They were Jews from Poland looking for visas and safe passage to Japan. Despite the danger that he and his family would be in, Hiroki's father began writing visas for the refugees and continued for many days, saving thousands of lives — "Sugihara's survivors." This unforgettable story as remembered by Hiroki will resonate with readers for a long time to come.
Jade longs to see the world beyond the walls of her family's household. But Jade lives in 17th century Korea, where girls and women are restricted. When she figures out a way to get to the outside world, Jade's observations and experiences reveal a different time and place, but also dreams and wishes that contemporary readers will recognize.
Starry River of the Sky
Rendi, a self-centered, unhappy boy runs away from home and winds up in a sad town. Storytelling, however, instigated by a mysterious newcomer allows Rendi to mature and help the villagers. The rich narrative incorporates tales inspired by Chinese tales in this worthy companion to Where the Mountain meets the Moon.
Step Up to the Plate, Maria Singh
Nine-year-old Maria Singh longs to play softball in the first-ever girls' team forming in Yuba City, California. It's the spring of 1945, and World War II is dragging on. Miss Newman, Maria's teacher, is inspired by Babe Ruth and the All-American Girls' League to start a girls' softball team at their school. Meanwhile, Maria's parents - Papi from India and Mama from Mexico - can no longer protect their children from prejudice and from the discriminatory laws of the land.
Sylvia & Aki
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.
"Thirteen-year-old Laotian Mai Yang and her grandmother have survived the war that killed Mai's parents and 10 years in a Thai camp for Hmong refugees, so Mai is excited when immigration to the U.S. appears imminent…With the help of a compassionate teacher and sympathetic new friends, Mai becomes comfortable with American ways even as her grandmother isolates herself and fears assimilation. As seen through Mai's eyes, the wry observations of American habits are amusing and insightful.
The Dragon's Child: A Story of Angel Island
Based on his father's immigration files from Angel Island, Laurence Yep and his niece Dr. Kathleen S. Yep bring us the story of a ten-year-old boy from China who must prepare for his interrogation at Angel Island. The young boy memorizes everything from the layout of his village to the number of doors in the house, and continues his study on the sea voyage to San Francisco with his father.
The Earth Dragon Awakes
Henry and Chin both live in San Francisco, both are about eight years old, both adore “penny dreadfuls,” and both survive the 1906 earthquake. Chapters alternate between Henry and Chin’s narrations to provide a look at what happened in very different parts of the city on that fateful day. The story of destruction and survival is told from the perspective of two young boys.
The Night Diary
It's 1947, and India, newly independent of British rule, has been separated into two countries: Pakistan and India. The divide has created much tension between Hindus and Muslims, and hundreds of thousands are killed crossing borders. Half-Muslim, half-Hindu twelve-year-old Nisha doesn't know where she belongs, or what her country is anymore. But even if her country has been ripped apart, Nisha still believes in the possibility of putting herself back together. 2019 Newbery Honor Book and Walter Honor Book, Younger Readers Category.
Year of the Tiger
During the Second-Century Han Dynasty, two young boys — one the son of a military commander, the other a child of peasants — form a friendship, despite the rigid class structures. With Barbarians spies just outside the Great Wall, the boys are thrown into political intrigue and adventure.
See more great related resources and videos in our Multicultural Literature section!