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Five Books for Children to Celebrate AAPI Heritage Month

List compiled by Jessica DeCicco-Carey



"Eyes that Kiss in the Corners" by Joanna Ho (Author), Dung Ho (Illustrator) - This beautifully illustrated book celebrates diversity and self-acceptance through the story of a young Asian American girl who learns to embrace and celebrate her unique features.

A New York Times Bestseller and #1 Indie Bestseller · A Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year · A School Library Journal Best Book of 2021 · Included in NPR’s 2021 Books We Love List · Featured in Forbes, Oprah Daily, The Cut, and Book Riot · Golden Poppy Book Award Winner · Featured in Chicago Public Library’s Best Books of 2021 · 2021 Nerdy Award Winner · A Kirkus Children's Best Book of 2021.


This lyrical, stunning picture book tells a story about learning to love and celebrate your Asian-shaped eyes, in the spirit of Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry, and is a celebration of diversity.



 

"A Different Pond" by Bao Phi - This poignant and lyrical book tells the story of a Vietnamese American family as they go fishing in the early morning hours and reflect on the sacrifices and struggles that immigrant families often face.


A 2018 Caldecott Honor Book that Kirkus Reviews calls "a must-read for our times," A Different Pond is an unforgettable story about a simple event - a long-ago fishing trip. Graphic novelist Thi Bui and acclaimed poet Bao Phi deliver a powerful, honest glimpse into a relationship between father and son - and between cultures, old and new. As a young boy, Bao and his father awoke early, hours before his father's long workday began, to fish on the shores of a small pond in Minneapolis. Unlike many other anglers, Bao and his father fished for food, not recreation. A successful catch meant a fed family. Between hope-filled casts, Bao's father told him about a different pond in their homeland of Vietnam. Thi Bui's striking, evocative art paired with Phi's expertly crafted prose has earned this powerful picture books six starred reviews and numerous awards.



 

"The Name Jar" by Yangsook Choi - This charming book explores the theme of identity and acceptance through the story of a young Korean American girl who struggles to fit in at her new school and ultimately learns to appreciate the beauty of her own name.


Being the new kid in school is hard enough, but what happens when nobody can pronounce your name? Having just moved from Korea, Unhei is anxious about fitting in. So instead of introducing herself on the first day of school, she decides to choose an American name from a glass jar. But while Unhei thinks of being a Suzy, Laura, or Amanda, nothing feels right. With the help of a new friend, Unhei will learn that the best name is her own. From acclaimed creator Yangsook Choi comes the bestselling classic about finding the courage to be yourself and being proud of your background.




 


"Grandfather's Journey" by Allen Say This award-winning book tells the story of a Japanese American grandfather who, after living in America for many years, returns to his homeland and reflects on the profound sense of belonging and displacement that comes with being an immigrant.


In this Caldecott Medal–winning picture book, master storyteller Allen Say chronicles his family’s history between Japan and California. A lyrical, breathtaking tale of one man’s love for two countries, Grandfather’s Journey is perfect for fans of Last Stop on Market Street and Thank You, Omu!


Through pensive portraits and delicately faded art, Allen Say pays tribute to his grandfather’s persistent longing for home that continues within Allen.


This restlessness and constant desire to be in two places speaks to a universal experience as well as the deeply personal ties of family to place, and what it means to be at home in more than one country.


Both a celebration of heritage and a poignant exploration of the struggles we inherit, Grandfather’s Journey is a modern classic perfect for every household.



 


"The Cambodian Dancer: Sophany's Gift of Hope" by Daryn Reicherter - This inspiring true story follows the journey of a young Cambodian American girl as she discovers her passion for dance and uses her art to honor her cultural heritage and inspires hope in others.


**Winner of the Moonbeam Children's Book Award Silver Medal for Non-Fiction —Picture Book**


This Cambodian children's book teaches that not even the most terrible brutality can destroy the human spirit.


The Cambodian Dancer, a Cambodian book for children, is the true story of a Cambodian refugee — a dancer and teacher — who built a life in the US after fleeing the Killing Fields of the Khmer Rouge. She then became a counselor to other Cambodian refugees and created a school of dance for children. Her gift of hope was to teach children in the Cambodian community the traditional dances of their country, so young people growing up far away from the land of their ancestors would know about their culture.


In plain but straightforward language and colorful illustrations, this multicultural children's story communicates to children a sense of the joy, sadness, injustice, and triumph that lives on in young Cambodian Americans. It shows that it is possible to overcome great hardship and that a single decision can do much to heal one's self and others.


This touching Cambodian book for kids brings a message of positivity to a true story of human hope and resilience.





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