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For children, picture books offer a vehicle through which they can learn about cultures and stories outside their own. And Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is as good a time as any to add books about AAPI identity and history to your child’s library — you can also shop AAPI-owned bookstores online, some of which we feature in our guide to AAPI-owned brands.
Regardless of any specific medium, May brings about a focus on teaching children about the AAPI community — for example, some states now require Asian American curricula in schools, and Sesame Street added its first Asian American muppet to the cast in late 2021. To help you find some highly recommended children's books that tell stories about AAPI identity and history, we gathered Goodreads data to compile the best options below.
10 children’s books by AAPI authors to read in 2022
Using Goodreads data, we recommend these children’s books based on the number of members who reviewed each book, its average rating and how many members added the book to their "want to read" lists.
‘Yes We Will: Asian Americans Who Shaped This Country’ by Kelly Yang
Goodreads: 4.66-star average rating from 47 reviews
From cellist Yo-Yo Ma to Vice President Kamala Harris, Yang’s picture book highlights Asian American leaders. It features poetry as well as biographies about the person or historical moments included in the book. Each spread is illustrated by an AAPI artist.
‘Eyes that Kiss in the Corners’ by Joanna Ho and Dung Ho (Illustrator)
Goodreads: 4.62-star average rating from 5,837 reviews
After a young Asian girl realizes that her eyes look different than her peers’, she learns to recognize her beauty through the different women in her life.
‘Watercress’ by Andrea Wang and Jason Chin (Illustrator)
Goodreads: 4.56-star average rating from 2,741 reviews
Andrea Wang’s autobiographical picture tells the story of her family foraging for watercress. It’s a tradition that dates back to her family’s roots in China, and the young girl learns about her heritage through the experience.
‘I Am Golden’ by Eva Chen and Sophie Diao (Illustrator)
Goodreads: 4.30-star average rating from 483 reviews on Goodreads
“I Am Golden” tells the story of Mei and her immigrant family, detailing their experiences, culture and heritage. The book aims to promote self-love for Chinese American children.
‘Love in the Library’ by Maggie Tokuda-Hall and Yas Imamura (Illustrator)
Goodreads: 4.48-star average rating from 942 reviews
Set after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, this story follows the experiences of Japanese Americans from the West Coast live in incarceration camps. Tama and George meet and fall in love, spending time together in the library. The book also includes a photo of the real Tama and George, Tokuda-Hall’s grandparents, and historical information about this time period in American history.
‘Dumplings for Lili’ by Melissa Iwai
Goodreads: 4.28-star average rating from 488 reviews
While Lili and her Nai Nai (grandmother) are making baos, they realize they're missing an important ingredient. As Lili goes door to door in her Nai Nai’s apartment building, she meets the other grandmothers who live there and learns about food from a variety of different cultures.
‘I Dream of Popo’ by Livia Blackburne and Julia Kuo (Illustrator)
Goodreads: 4.36-star average rating from 505 reviews
When a young girl and her family emigrate from Taiwan to America, her popo (grandmother) stays behind. Despite the distance between them and changes in her life that come with experiencing American culture, this book tells the story of the girl and her grandmother’s connection.
‘Hair Twins’ by Raakhee Mirchandani and Holly Hatam (Illustrator)
Goodreads: 4.33-star average rating from 429 reviews
A Sikh father and his daughter bond over their hair. The father styles his daughter’s hair every morning, a practice that’s part of their religion and their relationship.
‘How to Wear a Sari’ by Darshana Khiani and Joanne Lew-Vriethoff (Illustrator)
Goodreads: 4.03-star average rating from 371 reviews
A young girl longs to feel grown up, so she attempts to dress herself in a sari. The book details her missteps and successes, and the joy the experience brings to her family.
‘Yang Warriors’ by Koa Kalia Yang and Billy Thao (Illustrator)
Goodreads: 4.15-star average ratings from 100 reviews
The Yang warriors live at the Ban Vinai refugee camp — where the author lived as a child — and are led by Master Me. In this picture book, they go on missions and become heroes at the camp.