Celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with these Pacific Islander & Asian history read-alouds.
This month, we want to take the opportunity to honor the culture, history and contributions of AAPI communities around the world. And what better way to honor and broaden your kids’ knowledge and understanding of this diverse group than by sharing some of the best books written by authors of Asian and Pacific Islander descent?
From picture books for little ones to chapter books for older readers, check out these great Pacific Islander and Asian history read-alouds then enjoy the whole collection with your kid!
Pacific Islander & Asian History Read-Alouds on Epic
Cora Makes Pancit
By Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore
Cora loves being in the kitchen, but she always gets stuck doing the kid jobs. One day, she finally gets the chance to help Mama make her favorite traditional Filipino dish. She’s thrilled as she does grownup jobs like shredding the chicken, soaking and stirring the noodles until it’s time to share her dishes with the rest of the family. With vibrant illustrations and heartfelt text, this charming read-aloud is a sweet way to share a piece of Filipino heritage with your kid.
Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas (Animated Video)
By: Natasha Yim
In this Chinese-American retelling of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” it’s Chinese New Year, and a careless Goldy Luck is tasked with delivering turnip cakes to her neighbors. But when the Chans, a family of pandas, aren’t home, she wreaks havoc through the house–helping herself to their rice porridge, chairs and their beds—with disastrous results. Your kid will love this hilarious take of the classic tale, while learning about friendship and taking responsibility for their actions. Bonus: It includes a recipe for turnip cakes!
No Kimchi For Me!
By Aram Kim
Here’s another charming gem from Korean American author Aram Kim. Determined to prove she’s not a baby anymore, Yoomi tries to make kimchi taste better. But not even ice cream can help. Luckily, Grandma has a good idea for improving this traditional Korean treat. This is a cute and quirky children’s book that illustrates the value of keeping an open mind when it comes to what you eat.
ʻOhana Means Family
Written by: Ilima Loomis
Illustrated by: Kenard Pak
Told in the style of the British nursery rhyme, “The House That Jack Built,” this light-hearted rhyming book is a celebration of Hawaii, the land and its culture.
It follows the family (ohana), as they get ready for a traditional luau, from reaching “through the water, clear and cold” to picking the taro to make the poi. This acclaimed children book is so beautifully written and illustrated, it’ll give both you and your child goosebumps. It also includes a glossary of Hawaiian terms used throughout the book.
By: Mia Wenjen
In this celebration of Japanese culture, Sumo Joe and his friends tie on makeshift mawashi belts, practice drills like teppo, and compete in their homemade dohyo ring. But when Sumo Joe’s little sister wants to join in the fun, he’s torn between the two things he’s best at—sumo, and being a big brother.
The Story of Chopsticks
Written by: Ying Chang Compestine
Illustrated by: YongSheng Xuan
Your kid will love this playful history of one of China’s most famous inventions.
It all starts with fun-loving Káuai who can’t eat with his hands because the food is too hot. And while he waits for it to cool, his brothers eat it all up! So he gets an ingenious idea. He’ll use sticks to grab the food while it’s too hot for his brothers to touch it. He brings his new chopsticks to a banquet and impresses the entire family, and soon the whole village finds out, and then the emperor!
Illustrated in the traditional Chinese style of hand-cut, colored paper, this story will teach your kid a bit of history, and a lesson in ingenuity and inventiveness, to boot. It even includes an author’s note on the history of chopsticks and a dessert recipe.
This book is part of a series that blends facts and fantasy to bring Asian culture to life for young readers. One of them, “The story of Noodles,” is also available on Epic.
My Day with Gong Gong
Written by: Sennah Yee
Illustrated by: Elaine Chen
Young Chinese-American girl May is on a trip with her grandfather, Gong Gong through Chinatown, but she’s not enjoying herself. He doesn’t speak much English and she doesn’t understand Chinese! She’s hungry and bored, and he seems focused on his errands. But then, Gong Gong surprises her with a gift (a bao zi pork bun, her favorite!) and the two share a special moment.
This charming, light-hearted picture book shows kids how simple things can help bridge generational gaps and language barriers to help people connect. It also includes a glossary of translations for Chinese words featured in the story.
The Paper Boat: A Refugee Story
By: Thao Lam
This heartfelt and personal immigration story is inspired by award-winning Vietnamese-Canadian author Thao Lam’s own refugee experience. “The Paper Boat” offers a unique read-aloud experience, as the story is told entirely in illustrations―letting you and your young reader talk through it together.
The story begins with a young girl rescuing some ants. When her family is forced to escape war-torn Vietnam, she brings them with her. And before boarding the boat to safety, she folds a tiny paper boat and helps the ants climb aboard. What unfolds is a perilous voyage full of dangers and despair on their journey to find refuge.
This is an extraordinary own-voices book about the power of courage, resilience and hope during the Vietnam War. It includes an author’s note at the end sharing her real-life story.
A Bowl Full of Peace: A True Story
Written by: Caren Stelson
Illustrated by: Akira Kusaka
This moving picture book depicts the true story of Nagasaki atomic bomb survivor, Sachiko Yasui. A young girl at the time, Sachiko and her family was just half a mile from where the bomb fell on August 9, 1945.
Despite surviving the blast, over time her family experiences devastating loss. But after fleeing and returning to Nagasaki two years later, they make a remarkable discovery. A delicate serving bowl made by her grandmother, and that once served their daily meals, has remained completely intact.
It comes to serve as a symbolic vessel of peace, hope and new traditions. This heart-breaking tale delivers a message of peace to kids and lessons for the future.
Baseball Saved Us
Written by: Ken Mochizuki
Illustrated by: Dom Lee
This Read-To-Me book tells the story of Shorty, a Japanese-American boy living in an internment camp after the attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II. Fighting hopelessness and boredom, Shorty and others in the camp build a baseball field. Soon they form a league, and despite being surrounded by desolate conditions, barbed wire and guards, Shorty and his fellow players begin to regain a sense of dignity and self-respect.
Inspired by true events, this is a story of hope and courage, as well as an important reminder about one of the ugliest parts of American history.
K is for Kabuki: A Japan Alphabet
Written by: Gloria Whelan, Jenny Nolan
Illustrated by: Oki S. Han
Tons of rhyming fun makes “K is for Kabuki: A Japan Alphabet” a joy to read aloud with your kids. Using the English alphabet, it transports young readers to the country of Japan and explores its rich history and traditions through letters. For instance, “J is for Judo” and “O is for Origami.” Alternating between rhymes and helpful, informative text, the book brings Japan to life in a way that will captivate your imaginations.
Here are a couple additional Pacific Islander and Asian history read-alouds available off our platform, all available on Amazon or Amazon Audible.
By: Erin Entrada Kelly
Inspired by Filipino folklore, the story is told from four points of view: Virgil Salinas, a Filipino-American boy; Kaori Tanaka, a Japanese-American girl; Valencia Somerset, a girl in Virgil’s class who is deaf; and Chet Bullens, the neighborhood bully. The kids couldn’t be more different, and they definitely are NOT friends. But a prank-turned-disaster links them together in an unlikely place and in an unlikely way.
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
By: Grace Lin
Inspired by Chinese folklore, this stunning novel from New York Times best-selling author Grace Lin follows a young girl named Minli, who lives in a run-down hut with her parents. Her father tells her the folktale of the Old Man on the Moon who knows the answers to all of life’s questions. So she sets off to find him and ask him how she can change her family’s fortune, meeting a cast of magical creatures and memorable characters along the way.
A Single Shard
By: Linda Sue Park
Set in 12th-century Korea, this compelling piece of historical fiction follows homeless orphan boy Tree-ear. He dreams of one day becoming a master potter. But one day, after he accidentally breaks a piece of the master potter’s pottery, he must sacrifice his dream to work to pay for the damage. In service to his new master, he embarks on a dangerous journey, one that changes his life forever.
That’s our Pacific Islander andAsian history read-alouds book list! Don’t forget to check out the rest of the collection on Epic, and if your kid enjoys reading about various cultures, check out our post “20 Own Voices Picture Books.”