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May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month! This may not be a part of your cultural heritage. Still, it is a month-long time to honor, appreciate, recognize, celebrate, remember and learn more about all of the contributions, history, and traditions of the cultures and people of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Guest Librarian Heather from the Vernon Hills Public Library is here to share some books to celebrate with.
One of the ways to expose your children to different cultures is through picture books. These are just a few selections, but there are more available at your local library.
Books Celebrating Asians & Pacific Islanders
The Woman in the Moon: A Story from Hawai’i by Jama Kim Rattigan, illustrated by Carla Golembe
In Hawaii, a man doesn’t live on the moon. Instead, a woman lives there, a goddess named Hina. This folktale is a retelling of how Hina got to the moon and introduces children to tapa cloth and how it is made, which is an art form. Don’t worry, readers; there is a pronunciation guide to help you with the trickier Hawaiian words! Ages 4 and up.
Yoko’s Paper Cranes by Rosemary Wells
When Yoko lives with her grandmother and grandfather in Japan, they feed the cranes and make paper cranes with origami paper. After Yoko moves to the US, she finds the perfect way to wish her grandmother a happy birthday and assure her grandparents that she will be back to visit someday. The illustrations are wonderful and have the look and feel of origami paper and Japanese painting. Perfection. (Disclaimer: I happen to be very partial to Rosemary Wells as an author and illustrator.) Ages 2 and up.
The Story of Chopsticks by Ying Chang Compestine, illustrated by YongSheng Xuan
Of course, this book’s title gives away precisely what the book is about, but not exactly how chopsticks became the perfect way to enjoy delicious Chinese food! The author includes history, proper etiquette for using chopsticks, how to hold chopsticks, and an easy recipe if you’re willing to try cooking! Ages 4 and up.
Fish for Jimmy by Katie Yamasaki
This story is from the author’s family history in this country. During World War II, when the US relocated thousands of American citizens of Japanese descent to places around the United States called internment camps. I didn’t learn about these places in school as much as I did Nazi concentration camps of the same era. But I think both need to be part of the discussion of our country’s history and the internment camps of Japanese Americans, especially so during this month. This topic is definitely for older children but do not pass this book over. Have the discussion – it will be worth it. Ages 10 and up.
Bee-Bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park, illustrated by Ho Baek Lee
Set to a very catchy chant-like rhyme, this fun food book from an Urbana, Illinois native follows a little gal and her mother as they make the girl’s favorite dish, bee-bim bop, a signature Korean dish! Maybe you can make it too – the recipe is included. Ages 2 and up.
For more information on Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month:
- Library of Congress – Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month
- Smithsonian Education
- Presidential Proclamation and Initiative
Find more book suggestions on our Bookshelf!
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