In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Jumpstart is featuring children’s books throughout the month of May that celebrate the stories and voices of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Asian Pacific American Heritage Month commemorates the generations of Asian and Pacific Americans who have been instrumental in shaping both the United States’ history and present. Share the following books with the young readers in your life, and comment below with your own book suggestions for celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month!
The Ugly Vegetables
by Grace Lin
A girl and her mother plant a garden of Chinese vegetables. To the little girl, the neighbors’ flowers seem much better than their plain green vegetables. Only after the neighbors come to share her mother’s delicious vegetable soup does the girl gain an appreciation for the “ugly vegetables” from her garden.
After the Book: Let children experiment with printing on paper using cut vegetables and paint. Talk to children about the shape and texture of the prints.
Hush! A Thai Lullaby
by Minfong Ho, illustrated by Holly Meade
A rhyming bedtime story of one mother’s efforts to keep all the animals quiet — from the mosquito to the elephant — when their noise threatens to wake up her baby.
After the Book: Reenact the book with children. You can use puppets, stuffed animals, dolls, or just your imagination.
Cora Cooks Pancit
by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore, illustrated by Kristi Valiant
Cora loves being in the kitchen, but she always gets stuck doing the kid jobs like licking the spoon. One day, however, when her older sisters and brother head out, Cora finally gets the chance to be Mama’s assistant chef. And of all the delicious Filipino dishes that dance through Cora’s head, she and Mama decide to make pancit, her favorite noodle dish.
After the Book: Cook together using the recipe for pancit at the end of the book or one of your own family favorites.
by Soyung Pak, illustrated by Susan Kathleen Hartung
A young boy receives a letter from his grandmother in Korea. Although he cannot read the words, he figures out what the letter says by thinking about the items in the envelope and then writes a letter back with his own drawings and meaningful objects.
After the Book: Write and mail a letter to someone special together. Talk to children about the concepts involved, like envelopes, addresses, and stamps.
by Jama Kim Rattigan, illustrated by Lillian Hsu-Flanders
Seven-year-old Marisa, an Asian American girl in Hawai’i, learns to make dumplings for her family’s New Year’s celebration.
After the Book: Show children a map. Discuss the different places in the world your family and friends are from. Talk about maps and other related concepts, like countries, oceans, and distance.
Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji
by F. Zia, illustrated by Ken Min
A young Indian American boy tackles a culinary challenge, renewing his beloved grandfather’s spirit and taste buds by baking up his favorite boyhood bread.
After the Book: Act out the process of making your own roti together using play-doh (or find a recipe for roti dough!). Create different shapes, and discuss them together. Talk with children about special foods associated with your family’s heritage.
by Mark Reibstein, illustrated by Ed Young
Wabi Sabi, a little cat in Kyoto, Japan, had never thought much about her name until friends visiting from another land asked her owner what it meant.
After the Book: Go for a walk together and bring a notebook. Look for beauty during your walk, taking some time to sit down and draw pictures of what you see.
At Jumpstart, we believe work around diversity, equity, and inclusion happens all year — not only during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. As an organization, we are committed to embedding these important principles into our program and curriculum, our policy and advocacy agenda, and all aspects of our organization. Learn more about Jumpstart’s commitment to building a diverse and inclusive organization and our pledge to address systemic injustices that contribute to substantial opportunity gaps for children of color.