May is AAPI Heritage Month. AAPI stands for Asian American and Pacific Islander. The term describes a diverse and fast-growing population of 23 million Americans that includes roughly 50 ethnic groups with roots in more than 40 countries. Today, we celebrate AAPI heritage month with a few of my favorite book recommendations.
Growing up across the world, I resonate with immigrant stories. Authors in between worlds, invite us into a priceless American experience enriched with their unique cultural perspectives. For young readers books offer a wonderful opportunity for curious minds to explore. A cross-cultural story can also offer a safe space to introduce new topics from the comfort of your home. The best part, a compelling story can inspire real-life conversations with respect and dignity.
Home is In Between by Mitali Perkins Explores Shanti’s colorful Indian world of her parent’s apartment and the new New England school as she learns to value both sides of her identity.
This is Not My Home by Vivienne Chang is a heartfelt, humorous, reverse immigration story that will resonate with anyone who’s felt out of step returning to their country of origin.
Ramen for Everyone by Patricia Tanumihardja is an adorable story that celebrates the comfort and craftsmanship of the delicious Japanese staple.
Sari-Sari Summers by Lynnor Bontigao is an ode to vivid Philipino color, culture, and creativity. Try your hand at mixing a batch of Sari-Sari treats this summer.
I Can Be All Three by Salima Alikhan Celebrates multicultural families and the way we express our heritage, identity, and joy with the world. This book reflects my children in a very special way.
Front Desk by Kelly Yang Winner of the Asian / Pacific American Award for Children’s Literature Yang grew up in a hotel as a kid and wrote the endearing voice of the Front Desk series to help kids like hers feel seen and inspired.
Pie in the Sky by Remy Lai is a delightful illustrated middle-grade novel. I’m not sure why food serves such a pivotal role in so many of my favorite global books but often it’s the connection and comfort needed during the in-between season of an international move.
How to Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller is a Newberry Medal winnings story of a young first-generation Korean American moving in with her sick grandmother and a magical tiger!
Frankly in Love by David Yoon is the perfect interracial summer love story. My daughter and I devoured this book. I loved the way he uses Korean words in his story to express the main character’s confusion with his parent’s language. It represents the distance families can experience despite living under the same roof and sharing a similar culture.
Silence of Bones by June Hur is a fascinating murder mystery set in historic Korea.
You Bring the Distant Near a National Book Award Nominee for Young Adults. “Five girls, three generations, one All-American love story.” Ms. Perkins understands the weight of growing up with a complex Bengali American identity and poured her heart into this story of friendship, sisterhood and first loves.
Cook Korean! My daughter and I love this graphic novel cookbook. Perfect for our family who loves Bibimbap but needs extra help crafting an authentic Korean dish.
Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner is a compelling and touching memoir about grief, food, and family. First-generation Americans struggle with complicated layers of identity but the loss of a parent often severs the primary connection with their heritage and deeply compounds their loss.
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