Honoring Asian/Pacific American Children’s Literature

Asian/Pacific American Heritage (AAPI Heritage) Month is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the rich histories, diverse cultures, and significant contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States. One of the most delightful ways to explore and appreciate this heritage is through picture books. These books tell engaging stories. They offer children and adults a vibrant visual experience of cultural stories and themes. Our team has highlighted five outstanding picture books and their talented authors, each bringing unique perspectives and rich narratives to the literary world.


1. “A Different Pond” by Bao Phi, Illustrated by Thi Bui

This evocative picture book tells the story of a young Vietnamese American boy and his early morning fishing trips with his father. “A Different Pond” is not just a story about a familial bonding activity. It is a poignant glimpse into the life of a family making their way in a new country. The narrative beautifully captures themes of immigrant struggle, the balance of cultures, and the tender moments of family life.


2. “Eyes That Kiss in the Corners” by Joanna Ho, Illustrated by Dung Ho

“Eyes That Kiss in the Corners” follows a young Asian girl who notices that her eyes look different from her peers. It is a story about recognizing and celebrating one’s unique beauty. Through lyrical language, the book explores themes of self-acceptance and cultural heritage, as the girl discovers the beauty in her features, which reflect her family’s history and strength.


3. “Bilal Cooks Daal” by Aisha Saeed, Illustrated by Anoosha Syed

A charming tale for AAPI Heritage Month about a young Pakistani boy named Bilal who is excited to share his favorite traditional dish, daal, with his friends. The story is a gentle introduction to culinary traditions and the patience involved in cooking. All while celebrating diversity and the joy of sharing one’s culture through food.


4. “Watercress” by Andrea Wang, Illustrated by Jason Chin

Capturing the immigrant experience through a simple family outing, “Watercress” is an emotional tale encouraging young readers to appreciate their heritage. The story revolves around a Chinese American girl who feels embarrassed when her parents stop the car to pick watercress from a ditch. However, through her parents’ stories, she learns about the hardships they faced and grows to appreciate her family’s past and the nutritious food they gather, symbolizing love and survival.


5. “Where Are You From?” by Yamile Saied Méndez, Illustrated by Jaime Kim

This thoughtful book explores a question often posed to children from diverse backgrounds: “Where are you from?” The story follows a young girl who seeks an answer to this question. With the help of her abuelo, she discovers a deeper understanding of her cultural roots that spans continents and generations. Simultaneously celebrating the beauty of diversity and the complexity of personal identity.


Build Empathy and Understanding

These picture books offer a unique window into the Asian/Pacific American experience. They are crafted with love, care, and deep respect for cultural narratives. So, they are perfect for family sharing during AAPI Heritage Month. And serve as important resources for empathy, understanding, and celebrating diversity all year round. By reading, we take another step towards appreciating the tapestry of stories that enrich our communities and our own lives.

Let’s continue to honor the contributions of Asian/Pacific Americans by bringing Youth Equity Stewardship to your school. Youth Equity Stewardship (YES) is an innovative and experiential learning process. YES activates and sustains authentic partnerships between adults and students leading to compelling, sustainable, vibrant communities. Facilitators foster multi-generational collaboration. Music, movement, and visual arts address complex educational challenges with an asset-based, solution-oriented process that drives continuous improvement.
Youth Equity Stewardship