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The Ovia Bookshelf: Asian & Pacific Islander Edition

Celebrating AAPI / API children’s books authors and illustrators

Each new book we introduce our children to opens up new possibilities for learning and growth. Here’s a great list of children’s books by AAPI / API authors and illustrators who celebrate and represent culture as they teach us about community and life along the way.

Check out what’s on our shelf!

I am a Bold Asian Boy / I am an Amazing Asian Girl 

By Yobe Qiu and illustrated by Jade Le

Ages Baby to 8 years old

Yobe Qiu has created a pair of books that reinforce confidence and positive affirmation for Asian children. Filled with Jade Le’s colorful illustrations, the books approach the topics of self-worth, courage, strength and cultural identity. Tip: Have an older sibling read this to their younger sibling, and you can have them both not only enjoy positive content but also spend time together.

Favorite lines: 

I wake up ready for my day despite the changes it might bring.

I am not afraid to shine, I am my ancestors’ pride.

Eyes That Kiss in the Corners

Written by Joanna Ho and Illustrated by Dung Ho

Ages 2-6

Joanna Ho and Dung Ho present an incredibly heartwarming book about the beauty of self-identity, family, and culture. It is a great read-aloud moment for the whole family.

Favorite line: Her eyes are filled with so many stories; I can fall inside of them and swim until time stops.

I am a Rainbow! 

Written by Mark Kanemura and Illustrated by Richard Merritt 

Preschool to 3 years old

Putting on a show, dressing up, and dancing brings Mark joy at home, but they sometimes get him teased by kids at school. The gift of a unique cape makes him feel invincible! When it goes missing, will he lose his confidence forever?

Professional dancer and LGBTQIA+ advocate Mark Kanemura explores confidence and bravery in this dynamically illustrated book, based on his childhood in Hawaii.

Favorite line: Every time we get together, it feels like a party that I never want to end.

Luli and the Language of Tea

Written by Andrea Wang and illustrated by Hyewong Yum

Ages 3-7 years old

In this book, Luli has the idea of hosting a tea party for her new English as a Second Language class. Together, she and her classmates learn how to build community through tea. The book also includes a section on the history of tea worldwide, complete with maps and facts to engage you and your child.

Favorite line: Hands curled around warm cups, mouths curved into shy smiles

Moon Pops

By Heena Baek, translated by Jieun Kiaer

Ages 4-6 years old

What do you do when the moon starts to melt? Hint: You make an icy treat. Inspired by a Korean folk tale, Heena Baek’s imaginative tale will be asked for repeatedly at bedtime.

Favorite line: Drip, drip, drip…the moon was melting

Piper Chen Sings

By Phillipa Soo and Maris Pasquale Doran

Illustrated by Qin Leng

Ages 4-8 years old

Piper Chen sings! She sings anywhere and anytime she can. But can she sing the solo in the upcoming Spring Sing if she suddenly has a case of the butterflies? Luckily, her grandmother has some wise advice to share. Grammy winner and Tony-nominated actress Phillipa Soo teamed up with therapist and mom Maris Pasquele Doran to create this lovely book about embracing your emotions.

Favorite line: She sings good morning to the peaking sun and goodnight to the cresting moon.

The Light Within You

Written by Namita Moolani Mehra and illustrated by Kamala Nai

Ages 4-8 years old

Diya is so excited about traveling 7,850 miles to India to see Nani, her grandmother and best friend. They will celebrate Diwali, the Festival of Lights. Join her on her wonderful trip back to her other home. Kamal Nai’s illustrations beautifully illuminate this lovely story about love, culture and family created by Namita Moolani Mehra. 

Favorite line: You know, when things are tough on the outside, it helps to brighten your light on the inside!


Punky Aloha

By Shar Tuiasoa

Ages  4-8 years old

Illustrator Shar Tuiasoa brings us her first book, Punky Aloha, about a cool and sweet kid with a story to share. When grandma needs butter for her famous banana bread, it’s up to shy Punky to venture out to market on her own. With her grandma’s magic glasses, she learns to share her aloha and meets some new friends, while finding her courage along the way.

Favorite line: Be helpful. Be giving. Be brave. This is how we share our aloha.

Much Ado About Baseball

By Rajani LaRocca

Ages 8-12 years old

Shakespeare and baseball together in a book? Sign us up! This Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection is an entertaining and thoughtful book inspired by the Shakespeare classic Much Ado About Nothing. Readers will enjoy Trish and the many characters that Rajani LaRocca has brought to life.

When You Trap a Tiger

By Tae Keller

Ages 9-11 years old

When visiting her sick grandmother, Lily encounters a magical tiger. The tiger offers Lily a deal. If she returns what her grandmother stole from the tigers long ago, the tiger will help her grandmother feel better. This Newbery Medal-winning and New York Times bestselling book is inspired by Korean folklore and uses fantasy to touch on the themes of family, heritage, love and consequence.

Favorite line: I love the way we turn the lights, Low, cuddle up at night, tell stories of Korea, your voice painting pictures of ghosts and tigers in my mind.

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