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Celebrating AAPI Heritage Month: Five AAPI Stories for Young Readers

May is Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, and one of the many ways we can celebrate this culturally rich community is by reading stories that reflect AAPI experiences.

Growing up South Asian, I rarely encountered fictional characters who shared my ethnicity. This led me to believe that people like me simply couldn’t be the main character, fueling my desire to blend in. That’s why representation matters. Seeing characters with their own heritage empowers children to embrace their identity, and for those outside the community, it can serve as an enlightening way to learn about another culture. 

Access Books Bay Area strives to ensure children have access to stories that celebrate diversity. Below are five curated books providing AAPI representation. 

The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi

Ages: 3 – 7

Names are a huge part of our identity—and a part that immigrants like myself often have to change. Some of us abbreviate our names, some accept Americanized pronunciations, and some adopt entirely new ones. This is the dilemma faced by Unhei (Yoon-hey) when her family moves from Korea to America. Anxious to fit in at her new school, she struggles to choose a new name that will be more familiar to her peers. Ultimately, with the encouragement of her classmates, she decides to embrace her own, demonstrating that we don’t have to change for others to accept us. 

Drawn Together by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat

Ages: 3  8

Language barriers are a common challenge for first-generation American children; we grow up speaking English, while most of our family members grew up speaking their native tongue. Drawn Together is the story of a young English-speaking boy and his Thai-speaking grandfather, who bridge this barrier through their mutual love for drawing. Their tale is a heartwarming reminder that the strongest bonds can be formed without words.  

A Garden in My Hands by Meera Sriram

Ages: 4 – 8 

A Garden In My Hands thoughtfully highlights a cherished Indian tradition: applying henna. In this picture book, a mother creates intricate henna designs on her daughter’s hands for a wedding, while exchanging generational family stories. The bonding and learning that ensues displays the value of passing down stories and traditions to young ones. Not only can it show them their roots, but it can help us reconnect with our own. 

Aloha Everything by Kaylin Melia George, illustrated by Mae Waite

Ages: 5 – 8

Aloha Everything depicts Hawaii’s natural beauty, history and culture through the eyes of a little girl named Ano as she learns about the islands she was born on. The hand-painted illustrations bring the words to life, and the rhyming scheme makes it easy to follow along for young readers. Like Ano, the author grew up listening to tales of Hawaii from her mother, and her love for her ancestral home inspired her to write this vibrant, heartfelt story. 

Magnolia Wu Unfolds It All by Chanel Miller 

Ages: 7 – 11

This middle-grade novel stars ten-year-old Chinese American Magnolia Wu, a lonely, imaginative girl whose parents operate a laundromat in NYC. When she meets Iris Lam, a Vietnamese-American new to the neighborhood, the two go on an exciting quest to return lost socks in the laundromat to their owners. Throughout their journey, Miller balances more delicate themes of xenophobia with those of friendship and community.


These books are available at Linden Tree Bookstore, a Bay Area family-run children’s bookstore with a highly curated selection of books reflecting a diverse range of voices. 


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