26 Book Recommendations for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

Did you know the first Japanese immigrants came to the United States on May 7, 1843? In celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in May, our librarians gathered a list of top book recommendations. The following books are created by and/or about Asian and Pacific Americans. All titles are available at Grand Forks Public.

Picture Books

1. Eyes that Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho, Illustrated by Dung Ho

In this powerful and poetic picture book, a young girl notices that her eyes look different from her friends’. The girl realizes that her eyes kiss in the corners and are like her mother’s, her amah’s, and her little sister’s, and they are beautiful.

2. Drawn Together by Minh Le, Illustrated by Dan Santat

This book explores how a young boy and his Thai grandfather learn to bridge barriers of language, culture, and age. Find out how they connect and explore common ground without words.

3. A Big Mooncake for Little Star by Grace Lin

This Caldecott Honor shines as bright as the stars in the sky. In this stunning picture book, author-illustrator Lin creates a heartwarming original story that explores the bond between a mother and her daughter and explains the phases of the moon.

4. The Most Beautiful Thing by Kao Kalia Yang, illustrated by Khoa Le

Drawn from author Yang’s childhood experience as a Hmong refugee, this moving picture book portrays a family with little money and a great deal of love.

5. Magic Ramen: The Story of Momofuku Ando by Andrea Wang, Illustrated by Kana Urbanowicz

Momofuku Ando worked in a little shed in his backyard, experimenting to create a new kind of noodle soup that was quick, delicious, and nutritious in order to feed the hungry in Japan and across the world. Slurp up the true story behind one of the world’s most popular foods!

Juvenile Fiction

6. Stargazing by Jen Wang

Moon is everything Christine isn’t. She’s confident, impulsive, artistic… and though they both grew up in the same Chinese-American suburb, Moon is somehow unlike anyone Christine has ever known. When catastrophe strikes, can Christine find it in herself to be the friend that Moon needs? Author-illustrator Jen Wang draws on her childhood to paint a deeply personal yet wholly relatable friendship story in this heartfelt graphic novel.

7. Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly

Virgil Salinas and three unlikely friends’ lives weave together in unexpected ways in this Newberry Award winning novel. A prank traps Virgil and his pet guinea pig at the bottom of a well and this disaster leads on an epic quest to find missing Virgil. Through luck, smarts, bravery, and a little help from the universe, a rescue is performed, a bully is put in his place, and friendship blooms.

8. Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai

Twelve-year-old Mai’s parents are making her spend her vacation in Vietnam so she can learn more about her roots. Since she barely knows the language or customs, she is desperately counting down the days until she can return home. In this sharply funny and poignant story, Mai realizes that home is not found on a map but is instead made up of the people she calls family.

9. Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan

Amina has never been comfortable in the spotlight, but now that she’s in middle school everything feels different. Witness Amina grapple with questions about changing to fit in and discover how she uses the power of her voice to bring people together.

10. The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani DasGupta

On the morning of her twelfth birthday, Kiranmala is just a regular sixth grader living in New Jersey, until her parents mysteriously vanish and a rakkhosh demon slams through her kitchen, determined to eat her alive. Kiranmala is swept into another dimension full of magic, winged horses, moving maps, and annoying, talking birds. There, she must solve riddles and slay demons in order to find her parents and basically save New Jersey, her entire world, and everything beyond it.

Teen Fiction

11. Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi

Struggling with emotional problems and an eating disorder, Jayne, a Korean American college student living in New York City, is estranged from her accomplished older sister, June, until June gets cancer.

12. Super Fake Love Song by David Yoon

When Cirrus Soh meets self-proclaimed nerd Sunny Dae, she mistakes Sunny’s older brother Gray’s bedroom, with its electric guitars and rock posters, for Sunny’s own. He sort of, kind of, accidentally winds up telling her he’s the front man of a rock band. Now Sunny is knee-deep in the lie, and begs his best friends into forming a fake band with him. When Cirrus asks to see them play, people start noticing him in the hallways. Now Sunny is going to football games and parties, feeling more confident, falling in love—and having fun. As his lies begin to catch up, was it all worth it?

13. The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling by Wai Chim

Anna Chiu has her hands full. When she’s not looking after her brother and sister or helping out at her father’s restaurant, she’s taking care of her mother, whose debilitating mental illness keeps her in bed most days. Her father’s new delivery boy, Rory, is a welcome distraction and even though she knows that things aren’t right at home, she’s starting to feel like she could be a normal teen.

14. Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo

Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu can’t remember exactly when the question took root, but the answer was in full bloom the moment she and Kathleen Miller walked under the flashing neon sign of a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club. America in 1954 is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, especially not in Chinatown. Red-Scare paranoia threatens everyone, including Chinese Americans like Lily. With deportation looming over her father–despite his hard-won citizenship–Lily and Kath risk everything to let their love see the light of day.

Graphic Novels

15. Almost American Girl: An Illustrated Memoir by Robin Ha

A teen graphic novel memoir about a Korean-born, non-English-speaking girl who is abruptly transplanted from Seoul to Huntsville, Alabama, and struggles with extreme culture shock and isolation, until she discovers her passion for comic arts.

16. The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir by Thi Bu

The author describes her experiences as a young Vietnamese immigrant, highlighting her family’s move from their war-torn home to the United States in graphic novel format.

Adult Fiction

17. Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu

From the infinitely inventive author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe comes a deeply personal novel about race, pop culture, assimilation, and escaping the roles we are forced to play.

18. Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri

A marvelous new novel, from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Lowland and Interpreter of Maladies, about a woman questioning her place in the world, wavering between stasis and movement, between the need to belong and the refusal to form lasting ties.

19. Sparks like Stars by Nadia Hashimi

An Afghan American woman returns to Kabul to learn the truth about her family and the tragedy that destroyed their lives in this brilliant and compelling novel from the bestselling author of The Pearl That Broke Its Shell, The House Without Windows, and When the Moon Is Low.

20. Gold Diggers by Sanjena Sathian

An Indian-American serio-comic and magical realist epic love story about the perils of ambition, tracing the mysterious alchemy of its characters’ transformation from high school in an Atlanta suburb through young adulthood in the Bay Area.

21. New Waves by Kevin Nguyen

Set in the New York City tech world, a wry and edgy debut novel about a heist gone wrong, a secret online life exposed, and a young man’s search for true connection.


22. Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

From the indie rockstar of Japanese Breakfast fame, and author of the viral 2018 New Yorker essay that shares the title of this book, an unflinching, powerful memoir about growing up Korean American, losing her mother, and forging her own identity.

23. Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets & Advice for Living Your Best Life by Ali Wong

Ali Wong’s heartfelt and hilarious letters to her daughters (the two she put to work while they were still in utero), covering everything they need to know in life, like the unpleasant details of dating, how to be a working mom in a male-dominated profession, and how she trapped their dad.

24. Sigh, Gone: A Misfit’s Memoir of Great Books, Punk Rock, and the Fight to Fit In by Phuc Tran

For anyone who has ever felt like they don’t belong, Sigh, Gone shares an irreverent, funny, and moving tale of displacement and assimilation woven together with poignant themes from beloved works of classic literature.

25. Know My Name: A Memoir by Chanel Miller

Brock Turner had been sentenced to just six months in county jail after he was found sexually assaulting “Emily Doe” on Stanford’s campus. Her victim impact statement was posted on BuzzFeed, where it instantly went viral, was translated globally, and read on the floor of Congress. It inspired changes in California law and the recall of the judge in the case. Now Miller reclaims her identity to tell her story of trauma, transcendence, and the power of words.

26. Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen by Jose Antonio Vargas

Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, called “the most famous undocumented immigrant in America,” tackles one of the defining issues of our time in this explosive and deeply personal call to arms.

Check out one of these titles at Grand Forks Public, browse our online catalog, or explore our OverDrive Collection for ebook and audiobook options. In addition, we have a number of related films to stream available on Kanopy. Check out these Asian Pacific American Heritage Month films.

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