Celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with these books for children and families.
Reading diverse and authentically representative picture books to children can help young readers cultivate empathy, understanding, and belonging in early life. These 14 picture books featuring Asian culture and families are perfect for sharing authentic experiences and voices from Asian American authors, especially during the Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May.
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Written by Helen H. Wu
Tofu Takes Time by Helen H. Wu, illustrated by Julie Jarema
Lin and her grandma, NaiNai, are making tofu from scratch! A charming tale about how patience brings a whole universe together in a simple dish made by a Chinese American family. As an ode to patience and delayed gratification, this heartwarming picture book supports the mindset that good things take time.
Eyes that Speak to the Stars by Joanna Ho, illustrated by Dung Ho
Inspired by the men in his family, a young boy realizes that his eyes rise to the skies and speak to the stars, shine like sunlit rays from those who came before—like his father’s, his agong’s, and his little brother’s, and they are visionary. This extraordinary picture book redefines what it means to be truly you.
Watercress by Andrea Wang, illustrated by Jason Chin
A moving autobiographical story of a child of immigrants discovering and connecting with her heritage. A young girl is embarrassed when her family gathers watercress by the side of the road. When her mother shares a story of her family’s time in China, the girl learns to appreciate the fresh food they foraged. Together, they make a new memory of watercress.
I Dream of Popo by Livia Blackburne, illustrated by Julia Kuo
When a young girl and her family emigrate from Taiwan to America, she leaves behind her beloved popo, her grandmother. A delicate, emotionally rich picture book celebrates a special connection that crosses time zones and oceans as Popo and her granddaughter hold each other in their hearts forever.
When Lola Visits by Michele Sterling, illustrated by Aaron Asis
For one young girl, summer doesn’t start until her lola—her grandmother from the Philippines—comes for her annual visit. An evocative picture book brimming with the scents, tastes, and traditions that define a young girl’s summer with her grandmother celebrates the gentle bonds of familial love that span oceans and generations.
I’ll Go and Come Back by Rajani LaRocca, illustrated by Sara Palacios
When Jyoti visits her grandmother halfway around the world, she is overwhelmed by the differences between India and home. A tender, beautifully illustrated story about a girl in America and her grandmother in India, whose love stretches between languages and cultures—and across the world.
Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao by Kat Zhang, illustrated by Charlene Chua
Amy loves to make bao with her family. But it takes skill to make the bao taste and look delicious. And her bao keep coming out all wrong. Meet the funny, fierce, and fearless Amy Wu, who is determined to make a perfect bao bun today. Can she rise to the occasion?
Drawn Together by Minh Le, illustrated by Dan Santat
When a young boy visits his grandfather, their lack of a common language leads to confusion, frustration, and silence. But as they sit down to draw together, something magical happens—with a shared love of art and storytelling, the two form a bond that goes beyond words. The Thai language is seamlessly integrated throughout the book.
A Different Pond by Bao Phi, illustrated by Thi Bui
An unforgettable story about a simple event—a long-ago fishing trip, with a powerful, honest glimpse into a relationship between father and son—and between cultures, old and new. Bao and his father fished for food, not recreation. Between hope-filled casts, Bao’s father told him about a different pond in their homeland of Vietnam.
Grandpa Grumps by Katrina Moore, illustrated by Xindi Yan
Daisy’s Yeh-Yeh is visiting from China, and try as she might, Daisy can’t get her grumpy grandpa to smile! A funny and heartwarming story about overcoming cultural differences and connecting across generations.
Amah Faraway by Margaret Chiu Greanias, illustrated by Tracy Subisak
A delightful story of a child’s visit to a grandmother and home far away, and of how families connect and love across distance, language, and cultures. Backmatter includes a guide to some of the places and foods explored in Taiwan.
A Big Mooncake for Little Star by Grace Lin
Little Star loves the delicious Mooncake that she bakes with her mama. But she’s not supposed to eat any yet! What happens when she can’t resist a nibble? A gorgeous picture book that tells a whimsical origin story of the phases of the moon.
The Most Beautiful Thing by Kao Kalia Yang, illustrated by Khoa Le
A warmhearted and tender true story about a young girl from a Hmong refugee family with a great deal of love and little money, finding beauty where she never thought to look. The book moves from the jungles of Laos to the family’s early years in the United States.
The Ocean Calls: A Haenyeo Mermaid Story by Tina Cho, illustrated by Jess X. Snow
Dayeon wants to be a haenyeo just like Grandma. To Dayeon, the haenyeo are as strong and graceful as mermaids. A breathtaking picture book featuring a Korean girl and her haenyeo (free diving) grandmother about intergenerational bonds, finding courage in the face of fear, and connecting with our natural world.
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Helen H. Wu is a children’s book author and illustrator of over 20 picture books, as well as a translator and publisher. Her upcoming picture book, Long Goes To Dragon School, illustrated by Mae Besom (Yeehoo Press), releases in 2023. Helen is the Associate Publisher of Yeehoo Press, a San Diego based children’s book publisher. Being fascinated by the differences and similarities between cultures, Helen loves to share stories that can empower children to understand the world and our connections. Born and raised in Hefei, China, Helen moved to the U.S. in her 20s. Currently, she resides in sunny Southern California, with her family and two kids.
To find out more about Helen H. Wu, or to contact her: