AAPI Heritage Month – Honoring the Asian-American Experience

Maizy Chen’s Last Chance – Lisa Yee
This middle-grade novel introduces readers to Maizy, a young girl whose family just moved to Last Chance, Minnesota to take care of her grandfather and to help run The Golden Palace, the Chinese restaurant that has been in her family for generations. Maizy soon discovers that there is more to unravel about this town and her family’s restaurant than meets the eye!

Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao – Kat Zhang
Amy Wu is so inspired by her family’s ability to make perfectly round, perfectly filled, and perfectly soft and fluffy bao. When she is frustrated with her soggy, too small, or too big, or holey bao, she finds a perfectly Amy Wu solution.

It Began With a Page – Kyo Maclear
This is a picture book biography of Gyo Fujikawa, a Japanese-American illustrator who fought for inclusivity and opportunity for people of color in art and life. Bright and lively illustrations by Julie Morstad tell the story of the contrast in the world Fujikawa helped create.
Finding Junie Kim – Ellen Oh
This story is told in two perspectives, the contemporary with Junie Kim’s experience with bullying and racism in middle school, and her grandmother’s during the Korean War and the courage that reunited her family.

Other Words for Home – Jasmine Warga
This middle-grade book written in verse introduces readers to Jude, an immigrant from her beloved home in Syria as she adjusts to life in the US- missing her brother and father, being new and different, and finding her way.

Front Desk – Kelly Yang
Kelly Yang’s Front Desk is loosely based on her own experiences as a first-generation American whose ambitious parents manage and live in a motel in southern California. Young Mia, our protagonist, uses her wit, heart, and hard work to help her parents succeed in an unfriendly environment.

Sugar in Milk – Thrity Umrigar 
This beautifully illustrated picture book connects a young girl adjusting to life in the U.S. to the story of how Persian refugees came to India promising to bring sweetness to their new country like sugar in milk.

Playing at the Border – Joanna Ho
Playing at the Border is a picture book biography about Yo-Yo Ma highlighting his Bach Project, during which he performed at the border of the U.S. and Mexico to prove “Through music, we can build bridges rather than walls between different cultures”. 

I am Golden – Eva Chen
I am Golden is a picture book that celebrates Asian-American joy and honors the immigrant experience in the U.S. Both the author and illustrator conclude the book with their own stories of cherishing their heritage in a new country. 

Love in the Library – Maggie Tokuda Hall
Love in the Library introduces readers to Tama, who works in the library at a Japanese incarceration camp in Idaho, and the love she found over books with George. Beautiful illustrations highlight the joy books and love brought to a dreadful situation. Love in the Library is based on a true story, the young life of the author’s grandparents!
Darius the Great is Not Okay and Darius the Great Deserves Better – Adib Khorram
Darius is a loveable, nerdy, tea-obsessed, Persian-American teenager who is battling depression, bullying, and feeling disconnected from all the worlds he belongs to. When his grandfather in Iran becomes ill, Darius and his family’s visit has a life-changing impact. Though his sexuality isn’t explicitly discussed in the first book, many readers picked up on subtle messages that Darius was questioning, which was confirmed in the sequel- Darius the Great Deserves Better, as we meet Darius’ first boyfriend, Landon. Darius is as absolutely lovely and complicated as any person in your life, and every character feels just as real.

All My Rage – Sabaa Tahir
All My Rage is set in two places and times, Lahore, Pakistan with Misbah whose new life is shaken by tragedy, and the present, with Salahudin and Noor, best friends and outcasts navigating islamophobia and other personal issues in their home of Juniper, California. 
Last Night at the Telegraph Club – Malinda Lo
Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu can’t remember exactly when the feeling took root—that desire to look, to move closer, to touch. Whenever it started growing, it definitely bloomed the moment she and Kathleen Miller walked under the flashing neon sign of a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club. Suddenly everything seemed possible. But 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.

From Little Tokyo, with Love – Sarah Kuhn
This is a sweet story of young love that also tackles topics of identity, race and class, and leaving room to dream of a bright future all in a modern fairy tale setting in LA’s Little Tokyo. 

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
American Born Chinese tells the story of three apparently unrelated characters: Jin Wang, who moves to a new neighborhood with his family only to discover that he’s the only Chinese-American student at his new school; the powerful Monkey King, subject of one of the oldest and greatest Chinese fables; and Chin-Kee, a personification of the ultimate negative Chinese stereotype, who is ruining his cousin Danny’s life with his yearly visits. Their lives and stories come together with an unexpected twist in this action-packed modern fable.

Parachutes – Kelly Yang
Parachutes follows Dani and Claire, unlikely roommates and seniors at an elite high school in California. Coming from very different backgrounds, they both face issues in school and in their personal lives that show them they are better facing adversity together than creating it for one another.

This Time Will Be Different – Misa Sugiura
CJ Katsuyama is finally comfortable with her life and optimistic about her future after finding her calling in her family’s flower shop, when an old family rivalry takes a new form and threatens everything she and her family have worked for since WWII.

Displacement – Kiku Hughes
Displacement is a graphic novel that brings our protagonist, Kiku, from her San Francisco vacation in present day, to the Japanese internment camp her grandmother lived in during WWII. This novel tackles the Japanese American experience and intergenerational trauma, in a beautiful art style that feels bittersweet.

Patron Saints of Nothing – Randy Ribay
Patron Saints of Nothing is a coming-of-age story about grief, guilt, and the risks Jay Reguero, a Filipino-American teenager takes to uncover the truth about his cousin’s murder.

A Very Large Expanse of Sea – Tahereh Mafi
A Very Large Expanse of Sea is set in 2002 at the height of post-9/11 islamophobia. Its protagonist Shirin is doing her best to be invisible and survive high school unscathed, until she meets Ocean, whose kindness and interest in her terrifies her in a new way and she begins to dare to let him into her life.
The Best We Could Do – Thi Bui
The Best We Could Do is Thi Bui’s graphic memoir in which she shares her family’s journey from Vietnam after the war to a new life in the U.S. This retrospective is deepened after the birth of her son, in whom she hopes for a more peaceful future. 

Interior Chinatown – Charles Yu
Interior Chinatown is a National Book Award-winning work of literary fiction that compels readers through loveable characters to question stereotypes and consider identity in their daily lives. 

They Called us Enemy by George Takei
Long before George Takei braved new frontiers in Star Trek, he woke up as a four-year-old boy to find his own birth country at war with his father’s — and their entire family forced from their home into an uncertain future. They Called Us Enemy is Takei’s firsthand account of those years behind barbed wire, the joys and terrors of growing up under legalized racism, his mother’s hard choices, his father’s faith in democracy, and the way those experiences planted the seeds for his astonishing future.
Good Talk – Mira Jacob
Like many six-year-olds, Mira Jacob’s half-Jewish, half-Indian son, Z, has questions about everything. At first they are innocuous enough, but as tensions from the 2016 election spread from the media into his own family, they become much, much more complicated. Trying to answer him honestly, Mira has to think back to where she’s gotten her own answers: her most formative conversations about race, color, sexuality, and, of course, love

Minor Feelings – Cathy Park Hong
Minor Feelings delivers unflinching observations of modern anti-Asian sentiments in American culture through essays of both history and memoir. Minor Feelings is essential reading for deconstructing the stereotypes and institutionalized racism experienced by Asian Americans in the United States. 

The Making of Asian America – Erika Lee
The Making of Asian America is a comprehensive history of Asian immigrants and their experience in the Americas since the 1500’s. This text acknowledges the centuries of Asian American history seldom discussed in classrooms.  

Crying in H Mart – Michelle Zauner
This memoir of the artist best known as the singer in Japanese Breakfast encompasses the grief of losing her mother, feeling disconnected from her heritage, and finding her own identity. 

DMZ Colony – Don Mee Choi
Woven from poems, prose, photographs, and drawings, Don Mee Choi’s DMZ Colony is a tour de force of personal and political reckoning set over eight acts. Evincing the power of translation as a poetic device to navigate historical and linguistic borders, it explores Edward Said’s notion of “the intertwined and overlapping histories” in regards to South Korea and the United States through innovative deployments of voice, story, and poetics. Like its sister book, Hardly War, it holds history accountable, its very presence a resistance to empire and a hope in humankind.*

Sigh, Gone – Phuc Tran
A memoir about a young Vietnamese boy growing up in rural America at the dawn of punk, navigating racism, and the difference a great group of friends can make on a person. Each section in this memoir is titled by a different literary work which fantastically suits the period described in Tran’s life!

Beautiful Country – Qian Julie Wang
This memoir shares the experience of a family adjusting to life immigrating from China to New York in the 1990’s. Best described by the publisher: “Qian Julie Wang has penned an essential American story about a family fracturing under the weight of invisibility, and a girl coming of age in the shadows, who never stops seeking the light.”
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