The Blog

Children's Books about Asian American Month. Sharing our four favorite picture books by AAPI authors from all different backgrounds. #AsianAmerican #PictureBooks #ChildrensBooks

Though often lumped together, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (sometimes abbreviated AAPI) come from a wide array of cultures, histories, and experiences. Here at Cardinal Rule Press, we wanted to highlight these diversities by sharing our four favorite picture books by AAPI authors from all different backgrounds. Check out the list below to find your next favorite read!

PRIYA DREAMS OF MARIGOLDS & MASALA BY MEENAL PATEL (AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR)

“A beautifully rendered, touching celebration of sharing traditions across generations and cultures.” ―Kirkus (Starred Review)

Priya lives in the United States and her family is from India. She feels the magic of the place her family comes from through her Babi Ba’s colorful descriptions of India–from the warm smell of spices to the swish-swish sound of a rustling sari. Together, Priya and Babi Ba make their heritage live on through the traditions that they infuse into their everyday lives.

Priya Dreams of Marigolds & Masala is a celebration of the special bond between grandparents and grandchildren, the threads that connect each of us to our heritage, and the power of sharing our traditions with others.

SUGAR IN MILK BY THRITY UMRIGAR (AUTHOR), KHOA LE (ILLUSTRATOR)

A timely and timeless picture book about immigration that demonstrates the power of diversity, acceptance, and tolerance from a gifted storyteller.

When I first came to this country, I felt so alone.

A young immigrant girl joins her aunt and uncle in a new country that is unfamiliar to her. She struggles with loneliness, with a fierce longing for the culture and familiarity of home, until one day, her aunt takes her on a walk. As the duo strolls through their city park, the girl’s aunt begins to tell her an old myth, and a story within the story begins.

A long time ago, a group of refugees arrived on a foreign shore. The local king met them, determined to refuse their request for refuge. But there was a language barrier, so the king filled a glass with milk and pointed to it as a way of saying that the land was full and couldn’t accommodate the strangers. Then, the leader of the refugees dissolved sugar in the glass of milk. His message was clear: Like sugar in milk, our presence in your country will sweeten your lives. The king embraced the refugee, welcoming him and his people. The folktale depicted in this book was a part of author Thrity Umrigar’s Zoroastrian upbringing as a Parsi child in India, but resonates for children of all backgrounds, especially those coming to a new homeland.

DRAWN TOGETHER HARDCOVER BY MINH LÊ (AUTHOR), DAN SANTAT (ILLUSTRATOR)

The recipient of six starred reviews and the APALA Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature!

When a young boy visits his grandfather, their lack of a common language leads to confusion, frustration, and silence. But as they sit down to draw together, something magical happens—with a shared love of art and storytelling, the two form a bond that goes beyond words.

With spare, direct text by Minh Lê and luminous illustrations by Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat, this stirring picture book about reaching across barriers will be cherished for years to come.

CLEVER LITTLE WITCH BY MƯỢN THỊ VĂN (AUTHOR), HYEWON YUM  (ILLUSTRATOR)

Magical mayhem and hilarity ensue when a clever little witch tries to turn her baby brother into a goldfish in this funny and imaginative picture book about sibling rivalry.

Little Linh is the cleverest little witch on Mãi Mãi island. She has everything she could need: a trusty broomstick, a powerful spell book, and a magical pet mouse. She also has a new brother named Baby Phu, and she does not like him one bit. He crashes her broomstick, eats pages out of her spell book, and keeps her up all night. Little Linh tried giving Baby Phu away, but nobody will take him, not even the Orphanage for Lost and Magical Creatures.

So, she’ll just have to try something else…like turning him into a goldfish. The only problem is, Baby Phu ate the second half of the spell. Still, there’s a reason Little Linh is the cleverest little witch. She can guess the second half of the spell…but it might take a few tries.

Want to learn more about influential Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders? Check out this YouTube video for a fun trivia game for the whole family! 

For more book lists and suggestions, be sure to join our monthly newsletter!

Martina Rethman is an editorial intern with Cardinal Rule Press. She is currently a senior at Carnegie Mellon University.

Cardinal Rule Press

P.O. Box 930237 • Wixom, MI 48393
info@cardinalrulepress.com