Thematic Reading List: Asian American characters and themes
Asian American characters shine in this booklist geared towards ages 8-12.
|Bobby vs. Girls (Accidentally)
By: Lisa Yee
When Bobby inadvertently gets into a fight with his best friend Holly, their disagreement develops into a boys-versus-girls war involving their whole fourth-grade class.
By: Gennifer Choldenkol
Thirteen-year-old Lizzie and her secret friend Noah, who is hiding in her house, plan to rescue Noah’s father from the quarantined Chinatown and save everyone they love from contracting the plague that is spreading in 1900 San Francisco.
|Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream
By: Jenny Han
Illustrated by: Karen Dugan
Korean American fourth-grader Clara Lee longs to be Little Miss Apple Pie, and when her luck seems suddenly to change for the better, she overcomes her fear of public speaking and enters the competition.
|Flying the Dragon
By: Natalie Diaz Lorenzi
When Skye’s cousin Hiroshi and his family move to Virginia from Japan, the cultural differences lead to misunderstandings, and both children are unhappy at the changes in their lives but flying the dragon kite may finally bring them together.
By: Kelly Yang
Recent immigrants from China and desperate for work and money, ten-year-old Mia Tang’s parents take a job managing a rundown motel in Southern California, even though the owner, Mr. Yao, is a nasty skinflint who exploits them. While her mother (who was an engineer in China) does the cleaning, Mia works the front desk and tries to cope with demanding customers and other recent immigrants–not to mention being only one of two Chinese in her fifth-grade class, the other being Mr. Yao’s son, Jason.
|Full Cicada Moon
By: Marilyn Hilton
In 1969 twelve-year-old Mimi and her family move to an all-white town in Vermont, where Mimi’s mixed-race background and interest in “boyish” topics like astronomy make her feel like an outsider.
|The Great Wall of Lucy Wu
By: Wendy Wan-Long Shang
Eleven-year-old aspiring basketball star and interior designer Lucy Wu is excited about finally having her own bedroom, until she learns that her great-aunt is coming to visit, and Lucy will have to share a room with her for several months, shattering her plans for a perfect sixth-grade year.
|Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen
By: Debbi Michiko Florence
Eager to do something her big sister has not done first, Jasmine Toguchi, eight, decides to pound mochi with the men and boys when her family gets together for New Year’s.
By: Cynthia Kadohata
This story chronicles the close friendship between two Japanese-American sisters growing up in rural Georgia during the late 1950s and early 1960s, and the despair when one sister becomes terminally ill.
|The Land of Forgotten Girls
By: Erin Entrada Kelly
Abandoned by their father and living in poverty with their heartless stepmother in Louisiana, two sisters from the Philippines, twelve-year-old Sol and six-year-old Ming, learn the true meaning of family.
By: Lois Sepahban
Near the start of World War II, young Manami, her parents, and grandfather are evacuated from their home and sent to Manzanar, an ugly, dreary internment camp in the desert for Japanese-American citizens.
|The Year of the Dog
By: Grace Lin
Frustrated at her seeming lack of talent for anything, a young Taiwanese American girl sets out to apply the lessons of the Chinese Year of the Dog, those of making best friends and finding oneself, to her own life.