May is Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Read alouds are a great way to celebrate! Also, sharing books and stories that highlight Asian and Pacific Islander communities and voices is an impactful way to start conversations with students about current events. I’ve collected a few books that highlight diverse authors, illustrators and characters. Check out these Asian American and Pacific Islander books to read aloud!
I’m sharing all these books on video too! Check out the AAPI Heritage Month Books on my YouTube channel:
This post contains affiliate links. Read my full disclosure here.
Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month Books
Drawn Together by Minh Le
Drawn Together is powerful in both its‘ story and illustrations. It is about family, communication, bravery and love. A lack of a common language between a boy and his grandfather leads to confusion, frustration and silence. But, as they draw together, something magical happens. Their shared love of art and storytelling forms a bond beyond words.
Eyes That Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho
Eyes that Kiss in the Corners is an affirming story for Asian American children. A young, Asian girl notices that her eyes are different than her peers. She does realize, however, that they are similar to her mom’s, grandmother’s and sister’s eyes. They all have “eyes that kiss in the corners…and glow like warm tea.” This picture book is filled with stories of the past and hope for the future. The young girl draws strength from the powerful women around her and recognizes her own beauty as she discovers a path to self-love.
Danbi Leads the School Parade by Anna Kim
Danbi Leads the School Parade is a sweet story of a girl’s first day of school in the United States, after immigrating from South Korea. She wants to join in the games and activities with the other children, but she doesn’t understand the rules. But…with a little imagination, Danbi makes up a new game and leads a parade around the school. We watch as this young girl learns to navigate between two cultures and opens her world to others.
Cora Cooks Pancit by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore
Cora Cooks Pancit is a wonderful story of a young Filipino girl. Cora loves cooking, but always gets the “little kid” jobs in the kitchen. One day, when her older siblings are out, she gets to be her Mama’s assistant. Cora decides to cook her favorite Filipino dish – pancit. She can’t wait to hear what her siblings think!
The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
Being a new kids is hard enough, but it is is even worse when the other kids can’t pronounce your name. In The Name Jar, Unhei has just moved from Korea and she wants the kids in her American school to like her. Instead of introducing herself, she tells her class that she will pick a name next week. Fascinated, her classmates help by putting American names in a jar on her desk. However, encouraged by her new friends, Unhei decides to keep her Korean name that she is proud of.
Ohana Means Family by Ilima Loomis
Ohana Means Family is written in poetic text, in the style of The House that Jack Built. It shares all the work that goes into preparing food for a luau. The beautiful words and illustrations in this book truly celebrate the Hawaiian culture. It also includes a glossary of Hawaiian terms at the end of the book.
I shared this one in my Favorite Books of 2020 blog post as well!
Mindy Kim & the Yummy Seaweed Business by Lyla Lee
Mindy Kim and the Yummy Seaweed Business is part of a new early chapter book series about a young Asian American girl. In this first story, she is desperate to fit in after being made fun of for her Korean snack. Mindy meets a new friend, however, who encourages her to start a snack business. This series approaches important topics (racism, grief) in a way for students to understand and also sprinkles moments of kindness throughout.
Front Desk by Kelly Yang
Front Desk is a story about immigrants, poverty and family. There are messages of acceptance, perseverance and community woven throughout. Mia has many secrets – she lives in a motel, her parents are hiding immigrants from the mean motel owner and she wants to be a writer. Can she balance it all?
These Front Desk discussion questions will help you start powerful conversations with your students about the book!
Each of these books highlights Asian American and Pacific Islander voices and experiences. I hope that they will help you create a classroom library that truly represents and appreciates different cultures and histories. These books are not only great for celebrating Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May, but for sharing all year long!
Pin the image below to save these book ideas for later!