7 Books for Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month

Did you know that May is Asian & Pacific American Heritage Month? We’ve rounded up some great titles for readers aged 8–12 that feature characters who share this heritage!

1. Breadcrumbs

Hazel is a modern hero who sets off to save her best friend in this contemporary fairytale, inspired by the Hans Christian Andersen story “The Snow Queen.” Rescuing Jack, however, will not come easy, and Hazel will learn what it means to grow up and how the relationship between boys and girls, even if they are best friends, changes as you get older.

2. Inside Out and Back Again

Inspired by Thanhha Lai’s own childhood experience of fleeing Vietnam and immigrating to Alabama, Inside Out and Back Again tells the story of Hà whose family escapes Vietnam during the war to live in America. In America, Hà must adapt to a new culture and a new life that is so much different than the one she left behind.

3. Frazzled

You’ll fall in love with the hilariously neurotic Abbie Wu as she tries to figure out who she is and where she belongs in middle school. Akin to Smile by Raina Telgemeier, Frazzled is heavily illustrated, embarrassingly honest, and sure to appeal to anyone in the middle of figuring out how to survive the everyday disasters of growing up.

4. Hello, Universe

Four different perspectives come together to make up the story of a boy who must be rescued from a well, including Virgil Salinas (who hears a lot about the Philippines from his grandmother) and Kaori Tanaka (a third-generation Japanese American and self-professed psychic who believes that spiritually, she was born in the high misty mountains of a samurai village). Erin Entrada Kelly, author of The Land of Forgotten Girls and Blackbird Fly, creates some interesting social and cultural dynamics around a plot that’s both captivating and full of heart.

5. A Boy Called Bat

A Boy Called Bat is the first book in a funny, heartfelt, and irresistible young middle grade series starring an unforgettable young boy on the autism spectrum. Bat is a funny, honest, and relatable character, especially in the way he sees the world, the way he interacts with family and friends, and the way he relates to animals, which are a special passion of his.

6. Spirit Hunters

Spirit Hunters isn’t out yet but this is one to get on your radar! Harper Raine is ready to take on the ghosts who are after her brother, and along the way she discovers she has a special gift. She knows she’s different, and she embraces it — you’ll definitely be rooting for Harper.

7. Dragonwings

Inspired by a true story, this Newbery Honor Book tells the story of Moon Shadow who immigrates from China to live with his father in San Francisco. His father, who built beautiful kites back in China, now makes a living doing laundry. Moon Shadow and his father must now learn to move beyond intolerance, prejudice, and poverty and create the flying machine of their dreams!

What other books would you recommend that feature Asian and Pacific American characters?

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