As kids prep to go back to school, parents typically look for school supplies and clothes. How about adding books to the mix? Encouraging reading can create a lifelong love of books and learning.
My daughter loves reading books, and in her collection are several by Asian American authors. I appreciate that the story lines in these books include aspects of Asian culture. In a culturally-mixed family like ours, these books can help to teach her about that half of her heritage.
I’ve listed 5 of her favorite books by Asian American authors:
The Runaway Wok by Ying Chang Compestine
Based on a folktale set in ancient Beijing, a financially-strapped family wishes to celebrate Chinese New Year. The mother sends her young son to the market to trade her last few eggs for a bag of rice. Instead, he comes back with a magical wok. The wok has a mind of its own and skips away to take food, toys and money from the greedy boss who the boy’s father works for. Lyrical lines like “Skippity-hoppity-ho! To the rich man’s house I go” make reading fun.
Ying Change Compestine is an award-winning author of numerous picture books, and has also written cookbooks, middle grade fiction and young adult novels. Find out more at www.yingc.com.
The Ugly Vegetables by Grace Lin
The childhood of author and illustrator Grace Lin inspires the storyline behind The Ugly Vegetables. The title refers to Chinese vegetables, many which are bumpy, hard to cut, and difficult to pronounce. The daughter in the story longs for her mom to plant flowers and vegetables just like her neighbors do in this universal tale of wanting to fit in. The girl’s mother surprises her daughter – and the neighborhood- with a wonderful soup made from the ugly vegetables, and teaches her daughter how differences can be celebrated and embraced.
I Am Flippish by Leslie V. Ryan
What happens when a classmate tells a mixed-race boy that he couldn’t be Irish because of the way he looked? This true life incident inspired Leslie V. Ryan to write I am Flippish – a word referring to a Filipino and Irish mix. This multicultural children’s book addresses children who are inquisitive about their heritage, such as my daughter who like the author is from a culturally-mixed background.
Leslie Ryan is a Filipino-American mom, author, and blogger who embraces the multicultural aspects of her family. Read more at www.IAmFlippish.com.
Greetings from Kiwi and Pear by Joyce Wan
Travel around the world with two cute monkeys, Kiwi and Pear. I love how this board book includes global landmarks from the Great Wall and Mt. Fuji to the Pyramids and Golden Gate Bridge. My daughter loves the fold-out map and stickers included with the book. I especially enjoy the illustrations which are drawn in a style influenced by Japanese pop culture.
Joyce Wan is the author and illustrator of several children’s books, creates her own line of greeting cards, and teaches courses on greeting card design and art licensing at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. View all her products at www.wanart.com.
The Magic Brush by Kat Yeh
Jasmine has a special bond with her Agong, or grandfather, who teaches her Chinese calligraphy. It’s through this art that they travel together through Jasmine’s imagination, reaching far away places with flying dragons and beautiful mountains. One of the most unique aspects of this book is Chinese word symbols that are drawn into the illustrations. After all, the origins of Chinese characters stem from pictures of the objects they represent. When I read this book to my daughter’s classroom, the children loved searching for the Chinese characters. It made the reading time very interactive and engaging.
Kat Yeh is a former advertising and marketing professional with a passion for writing. She has released several books, including her first middle grade novel, The Truth About Twinkie Pie. Find out more about the author at www.KatYeh.com.
Check out my fellow #AsianMomBloggers’ back to school traditions, tips, and resources:
- Phyllis from Napkin Hoarder: Back to School: 5 Tips for Starting a New School
- Stephanie from Frankly, My Dear: Back to School Tips and Tricks
- Thien-Kim at I’m Not the Nanny: Our Fave Asian Lunch Box Snacks