asian american children's books
Books

Fall in Love With These 15 Middle Grade Books by AAPI Authors

Are you wondering how you can honor Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) heritage this month? When you buy or check out Asian American children’s books from the library, you support AAPI businesses and authors, and you celebrate AAPI culture.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, hate crimes against Asian Americans have skyrocketed. It’s more critical than ever that we understand how racism has played out in the United States so we can move forward, address it, and eradicate it.

What can you do to help?

stand up for AAPI

What You Can Do to Help

Change starts in your home.

Start and continue the conversation on racism with your own children. Educate them! We have the potential to raise a generation of changemakers.

Books provide a natural entry into fostering dialogue about difficult topics. Your family has the ability to build up and support the AAPI community.

In addition to buying and reading Asian American children’s books, you can:

  • Request AAPI works for purchase consideration at your local library.
  • Add Asian Literature to your local Little Free Library.
  • Tell publishers how much you’ve enjoyed their published AAPI books, and let them know you want to see more!
  • Share pictures of AAPI children’s books and mention AAPI authors on your social media accounts.

Asian American Children’s Books to Read Now

asian american children's books

The Tiger’s Apprentice

Tom Lee’s life changes forever when he meets a talking tiger named Mr. Hu and discovers that he has magical powers and great responsibilities that he never imagined. Despite his doubts and fears, Tom joins Mr. Hu’s ragtag band of creatures in their fight to keep an ancient talisman out of the hands of the worst possible enemy.


A Different Pond

A Wish in the Dark

All light in Chattana is created by one man — the Governor, who appeared after the Great Fire to bring peace and order to the city. For Pong, who was born in Namwon Prison, the magical lights represent freedom, and he dreams of the day he will be able to walk among them. But when Pong escapes from prison, he realizes that the world outside is no fairer than the one behind bars.


A Different Pond

As a young boy, Bao and his father awoke early, hours before his father’s long workday began, to fish on the shores of a small pond in Minneapolis. Unlike many other anglers, Bao and his father fished for food, not recreation. A successful catch meant a fed family. Bao’s father told him about a different pond in their homeland of Vietnam between hope-filled casts.


asian american children's books

The Dragon Warrior

As a member of the Jade Society, twelve-year-old Faryn Liu dreams of honoring her family and the gods by becoming a warrior. The Society has shunned Faryn and her brother ever since their father disappeared years ago, forcing them to train in secret. Then, during an errand into San Francisco, Faryn stumbles into a battle with a demon–and helps defeat it.


support asian literature

We Dream of Space

Cash, Fitch, and Bird Nelson Thomas are three siblings in seventh grade together in Park, Delaware. In 1986, as the country waits expectantly for the space shuttle Challenger launch, they each struggle with their own personal anxieties.


children's books with asian characters

The Twelve

Usagi can hear a squirrel’s heartbeat from a mile away and soar over treetops in one leap. She was born in the year of the wood rabbit, and it’s given her extraordinary zodiac gifts. But she can never use them, not while the mysterious, vicious Dragonlord hunts down all those in her land with zodiac powers.


asian american children's books

See You in the Cosmos

11-year-old Alex Petroski loves space, rockets, mom, brother, and dog Carl Sagan, named for his hero, the real-life astronomer. All he wants is to launch his golden iPod into space how Carl Sagan (the man, not the dog) launched his Golden Record on the Voyager spacecraft in 1977. From Colorado to New Mexico, Las Vegas to L.A., Alex records a journey on his iPod to show other lifeforms what life on earth, his earth, is like.


asian american books for tweens

Almost American Girl

For as long as she can remember, it’s been Robin and her mom against the world. Growing up as the only child of a single mother in Seoul, Korea, wasn’t always easy, but it has bonded them fiercely together. So when a vacation to visit friends in Huntsville, Alabama, unexpectedly becomes a relocation—following her mother’s announcement that she’s getting married—Robin is devastated.


children's books with asian characters

Inside Out and Back Again

Hà has only ever known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, and the warmth of her friends close by. But now, the Vietnam War has reached her home. Hà and her family are forced to flee as Saigon falls, and they board a ship headed toward hope—toward America.


Listen, Slowly

A California girl born and raised, Mai can’t wait to spend her vacation at the beach. Instead, she has to travel to Vietnam with her grandmother, who is going back to find out what really happened to her husband during the Vietnam War. Mai’s parents think this trip will be a great opportunity for their out-of-touch daughter to learn more about her culture. But to Mai, those are their roots, not her own.


asian american children's books

Girl Overboard

Everybody thinks Syrah is the golden girl. After all, her father is Ethan Cheng, a billionaire, and she has everything any kid could desire: a waterfront mansion, a jet plane, and custom-designed snowboards. But most of what glitters in her life is fool’s gold. Her half-siblings hate her, her best friend’s girlfriend ruins their friendship, and her own so-called boyfriend is only after her for her father’s name.


asian american middle-grade books

I’m OK

Ok Lee knows it’s his responsibility to help pay the bills. With his father gone and his mother working three jobs and still barely making ends meet, there’s really no other choice. If only he could win the cash prize at the school talent contest! But he can’t sing or dance and has no magic up his sleeves, so he tries the next best thing: a hair braiding business.


asian american children's books

Dragon Pearl

Min’s mother insists that none of them use any fox magic, such as Charm or shape-shifting, to keep the family safe. They must appear human at all times. Min feels hemmed in by the household rules and resents the endless chores, the cousins who crowd her, and the aunties who judge her. She would like nothing more than to escape Jinju, her neglected, dust-ridden, and impoverished planet.


middle school reading list

When You Trap a Tiger

When Lily and her family move in with her sick grandmother, a magical tiger straight out of Halmoni’s Korean folktales arrives, prompting Lily to unravel a secret family history. Long, long ago, Halmoni stole something from the tigers. Now they want it back.


middle school reading list

Not Your All-American Girl

Lauren and her best friend, Tara, have always done absolutely everything together. So when they don’t have any classes together in sixth grade, it’s disastrous. The solution? Trying out for the school play. Lauren, who loves to sing, wonders if maybe, just maybe, she will be the star instead of Tara this time. But when the show is cast, Lauren lands in the ensemble while Tara scores the lead role.


More Ways You Can Help

  • Report hate incidents to www.stopaapihate.org.
  • Donate in support of Asian communities. You can find a list of organizations here.
  • Volunteer your time.
  • Educate yourself and others around you.

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asian american children's books

See also: Middle Grade Books by Black Authors to Read This Winter (and Beyond)

***MamaBookworm is a participant in Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.***

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7 Comments

  1. These are really great suggestions! I’m excited for the time when my little starts understanding what I’m reading just a little bit more so I can start reading more diverse books.

  2. This is wonderful! My SIL and granddaughters are part AAPI. I love your heart in this post + wonderful book recs!

    1. Thank you for reading, Jen!

  3. Thank you for encouraging others to diversify their books. Even if our generation got it wrong, I am hoping for better for our kids. I’m part of the AAPI community and so thankful for those advocating for us.

    1. I really do believe the next generation can be changemakers. That starts with education. Hugs to you, friend!

  4. Amanda Jean says:

    These look really interesting! Some are so intriguing, thank you for sharing !

    1. Thank you for reading, Amanda!

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