It is so important to have diverse books for children in our classroom libraries. Unfortunately, as I blogged a while back, it can be difficult sometimes to find books with Asian characters. Here are some titles I recommend (I’ve also reviewed my three favorites here)! This is by no means a comprehensive list, but the books on this list are ones I have read or books that have done well in my classroom library. I hope to be adding more lists (and pictures!) soon.

For more book recommendations, check out my Instagram @InquiringIntermediates. I love sharing new books!

Novels, Comics, Autobiographies & Memoirs​

Unless otherwise noted, all the books on this list are #OwnVoices texts.

Novels with Asian Characters for Grades 2-3

  • The WeirDo series by Ahn Do (Vietnamese-American, contemporary fiction, like Diary of a Wimpy Kid but slightly less complex text)
  • The Cilla Lee Jenkins series by Susan Tan (Chinese-American, contemporary fiction, think Junie B. Jones but a touch older)
  • Naomi’s Tree by Joy Kogawa (Japanese-Canadian/Nikkei, historical fiction, WWII)
  • When the Cherry Blossoms Fell by Jennifer Maruno (Japanese-Canadian/Nikkei, historical fiction, WWII)

#OwnVoices Diverse Books for Kids Grades 4-7 that Feature Asian Protagonists

Historical Fiction
  • Alice on the Island: A Pearl Harbor Survival Story, by Mayumi Shimose Poe (Japanese-Hawaiian)
  • Front Desk, by Kelly Yang (Chinese-American, takes place in the 90s)
  • Three Keys, by Kelly Yang (Chinese-American, takes place in the 90s)
  • When My Name Was Keoko, by Linda Sue Park (Korean protagonist during the Japanese occupation)
  • A Single Shard, by Linda Sue Park (Korean, 12th-century Korea)

Contemporary Fiction

  • The Great Wall of Lucy Lu, by Wendy Wan-Long Shang (Chinese-American)
  • Hello, Universe, by Erin Entrada Kelly (Author is Filipino-American, protagonist is white but has a Japanese friend)
  • Blackbird Fly, by Erin Entrada Kelly (Filipino-American)
  • The Land of Forgotten Girls,  by Erin Entrada Kelly (Filipino-American)
  • Amina’s Voice, by Hena Khan (Pakistani and Muslim-American)
  • The Year of the Rat, by Grace Lin (Chinese-American)
  • The Science of Breakable Things, by Tae Keller (mixed-race Korean and white protagonist. Features a parent experiencing depression)
  • The Whole Story of Half a Girl, by Veera Hiranandani (half-Indian and half Jewish-American)
  • Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood, by Varsha Bajaj (mixed-race white and Indian-American protagonist)
  • In the Garden of My Iman,  by Farhana Zia (Muslim-American)
  • The Best At It, by Malik Pancholy (Indian-American, LGBTQ+ #ownvoices too)
  • Power Forward: Zayd Saleem: Chasing the Dream, by Hena Khan (Pakistani-American)
  • Unidentified Suburban Object, by Mike Jung (Korean-American, contemporary fiction/science fiction)
  • More to the Story, by Hena Khan (Pakistani-American and Muslim)
  • Barakah Beats, by Maleeha Siddiqui (Pakistani-American and Muslim)
  • Burying the Moon, by Andrée Poulin (Indian, not an #ownvoices text)
  • Kimchi & Calamari, by Rose Kent (protagonist is a trans-racial Korean adoptee. This is not an #ownvoices text; the author is the mother of a transracial Korean adoptee)

Graphic Novels

  • Escape from Syria, by Samia Kullab (Syrian, graphic novel)
  • Stargazing, by Jen Wang (Chinese-American, contemporary fiction, graphic novel)
  • Pie in the Sky, by Remy Lai (Chinese-Australian… I think. I’d have to re-read and check. Contemporary fiction, graphic novel)
  • Measuring Up, by Lily LaMotte (Taiwanese-American)
  • City of Dragons: The Awakening Storm, by Jaimal Yogis (mixed-race Chinese and European descent)
  • Ms. Marvel: Stretched Thin, by Nadia Shammas (Pakistani-American)
  • Pilu of the Woods, by Mai K. Nguyen (I’ve seen one review calling the protagonist Japanese-American, but I didn’t catch that. The protagonist presents Asian and the author is Vietnamese and Japanese)

Novels in Verse

  • Other Words for Home, by Jasmine Warga (Syrian, contemporary fiction, in verse)
  • Inside Out & Back Again, by Thanhha Lai (Vietnamese, historical fiction, protagonist is a refugee from the Vietnam-America War)

More Grades 4-7 Novels Featuring Asian Characters (not #OwnVoices textsh

  • Karma Khullar’s Mustache, by Kristi Weintge (protagonist has a Sikh father, contemporary fiction)
  • Shirley and Jamila Save Their Summer, by  Gillian Goerz (one of the protagonists is Muslim-American. Contemporary fiction, graphic novel)
  • Mya’s Strategy to Save the World, by Tanya Lloyd Kyi (mixed-race white and Burmese/Myanmar-American, contemporary fiction)
  • Forget Me, Not by Ellie Terry (white primary protagonist and Chinese-American secondary protagonist. White author. A great #OwnVoices book about Tourette Syndrome)

Biography, Autobiography, and Memoirs

  • I am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai (autobiography, Pakastani)
  • Fred Korimatsu Speaks Up, by Laura Atkins and Stan Yogi (biography, Japanese-American. A mix of photos, history, and information about Korimatsu. A super-cool book about civil disobedience during Japanese-American Internment)

Comics

  • The Ms. Marvel series, by Marvel Comics (Pakistani-American)

Picture Books

I’ve grouped these by age, but I’m a big believer that big kids can benefit from ‘too easy’ books. The age groupings are more so we don’t overwhelm younger kids with too much text. Some of the ‘big kid books’ could easily make good read alouds or anchor texts for lessons with younger ones too, though! Most, but not all, of these are #OwnVoices texts.

(Mostly) Contemporary Fiction

Books with Asian Characters for Toddlers and Kindergarten
  • Bee-bim Bop! by Ho Baek Lee (Korean-American)
  • Dim Sum for Everyone! By Grace Lin (Chinese-American)
  • Up to My Knees, by Grace Lin (Chinese-American)
  • The Last Marshmallow, by Grace Lin (Chinese-American)
  • Thread of Love, by Kabir and Surishtha Seghal (Indian)
  • Festival of Colors, by Kabir and Surishtha Seghal (Indian)
Books with Asian Characters for Grades 1-3
  • Cora Cooks Pancit, by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore (Filipino)
  • Eyes That Kiss At the Corners, by Joanna Ho
  • Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao, by Kat Zhang (Chinese-American)
  • Amy Wu and the Patchwork Dragon, by Kat Zhang (Chinese-American)
  • My Day with Gong Gong, by Sannah Yee (Chinese-American)
  • Dear Juno, by Soyung Pak (Korean-American)\
  • The Many Colors of Harpreet Singh, by Supriya Kelkar

Books with Asian Characters for Middle School and Upper Elementary

  • The Sakura Tree, by Carolyn McTighe (Japanese-Canadian. Not, to my knowledge, an #ownvoices book, but local to BC. The only historical fiction picture book I have on this list so far)
  • Drawn Together, by Mihn Lê (author is Vietnamese-American. A mostly-wordless picture book)

Non-Fiction Books with Asian Characters (Biography, autobiography, memoir, etc.)

  • Barbed Wire Baseball, by Marissa Moss (true story set in a WWII Japanese-American internment camp)
  • Malala’s Magic Pencil, by Malala Yousafzai (autobiography, Pakastani)
  • Fauja Singh Keeps Going: The True Story of the Oldest Person To Ever Run A Marathon, by Simran Jeet Singh (biography, Indian)
  • Magic Ramen: The Story of Momfuku Ando, by Andrew Wang (biography, Taiwanese-Japanese)
  • My Grandma and Me, by Mina Javaherbin (memoir, Iranian)
  • Yayoi Kusama: From Here to Infinity, by Sarah Suzuki (biography, Japanese)
  • Grandfather’s Journey, by Alan Say (biography about the author’s grandfather, Japanese/Japanese-American)
  • Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story, by Paula Yoo (biography, protagonist is Chinese-American)
  • Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds: The Sammy Lee Story, by Paula Yoo (biography, protagonist is Korean-American)
  • Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist, by Jess Keating and Marta Alvarez (biography, protagonist is mixed-race Japanese-American)
  • It Began with a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way by Kyo Maclear (biography, Japanese)
  • Muslim Girls Rise: Inspirational Champions of Our Time, by Saira Mir (various ethnicities and nationalities are presented in this picture book anthology)
  • The Boy Who Grew a Forest: The True Story of Jadav Payeng by Sophia M. Gholz (biography, Indian)
  • Thirty Minutes Over Oregon: A Japanese Pilot’s World War II Story, by Paul Nobleman (biography, Japanese, not an #OwnVoices text as far as I know).
  • Passage to Freedom: The Sugihara Story, by Ken Mochizuki (biography, Japanese)

Pin and save for later!

Asian protagonists: A huge list of kids books with