Asian American Pacific Islander Authors
Summary: In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, Library book buyers, bloggers, and podcasters are sharing some of their favorite Asian American Pacific Islander authors and stories.
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. It’s a time to recognize the contributions and influence of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States.
As library folk, we think one of the best ways to learn about AAPI history and culture is to read books by AAPI authors telling their stories in their own voices. So we’ve gathered a list of some of our favorite books and authors to share with you.
Asian American Pacific Islander authors
We have suggestions for a variety of ages and genres by Asian American Pacific Islander authors.
Eyes That Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho
Our first suggestion, Eyes That Kiss in the Corners is a new picturebook by AAPI author Joanna Ho. “Beautifully illustrates the strength and love and cultural history that comes from her mother, grandmother, and other female ancestors.”
~ Amy, Branch Manager
Drawn Together by Minh Le
Amy has a follow-up suggestion, Drawn Together by Minh Le and illustrated by Dan Santat. “A young boy is dropped off at his Grandfather’s house for the day – they do not speak the same language, eat the same food, or enjoy the same television shows. To have something to do the boy begins to draw a wizard, his Grandfather sees his drawing and gets out his own sketchbook and brush and draws a samurai warrior. Together they find a common bond and create a bridge to each other.”
Amy spoke about the book during an episode of the Booklovers Podcast. Listen here.
The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat
The next suggestions are also Dan Santat picturebooks. “My favorite AAPI author and illustrator is Dan Santat. His colorful art is vividly imaginative, with his picture book The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend winning the Caldecott Medal in 2015.”
Lift by Minh Le
“Last year’s Lift, written by Minh Lê, features Santat’s fantastical scenes that imagine where a broken elevator button can take two siblings.”
~Cara, Youth Services Librarian
Front Desk by Kelly Yang
“Meet Mia Yang, a ten-year-old Chinese immigrant, who has settled with her family in 1990s Anaheim, California in Front Desk by Kelly Yang. Struggling to make ends meet, Mia and her family work and live in a rundown motel, owned by the exploitative Mr. Yao. Mia is a spunky, aspiring writer who is eager to find success for her family, support other immigrants, and fight everyday injustices with the help of her friends. Mia’s story continues in 2020’s Three Keys.“
~Emily, Branch Manager
Frankly in Love by David Yoon
Our next suggestion is the YA novel Frankly in Love by David Yoon. “It’s a fresh, funny, and truly heartbreaking realistic look at Korean American teenager, Frank Li, who is torn between finding true love and pleasing his more traditional parents. It’s laugh-out-loud and tear-inducing, a perfect weekend read for romance lovers who prefer pragmatic tales over fairytales.”
~Stacy, Collection Development Librarian
The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Next is The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon. “Here we have a romance perfect for YA readers, and teens who know what it feels like to fall completely in love with someone in a mere 24 hours…That is what happens to Natasha and Daniel. Natasha’s family are immigrants from Jamaica soon to be deported. Daniel has always been the perfect son and student for his strict, hardworking South Korean parents who have their minds made up about his future.
One day they meet, and in that one day, they fall madly in love. This book fuses two cultures flawlessly, and the ethnicity of the characters plays a huge role in the story. This book simply swept me off my feet. A perfect “meet-cute” teenage romance blended with real-world problems.” (Note: Nicola Yoon isn’t AAPI but her book features AAPI characters.)
~Shayna, Adult Services
When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller
Another AAPI authored favorite is When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller. “Lily and her family move in with her halmoni (grandmother), whose health is declining. Upon arriving in their new home, Lily is visited by a tiger like those in the Korean folklore told to her and her sister by their halmoni. Lily believes she can make a deal with the tiger, with the help of her halmoni’s stories, to restore her halmoni’s health. This is a heartbreaking but beautiful story about love, family, magic, and embracing who you are.”
~Jordan, Library Assistant Specialist
We also talked about When You Trap a Tiger during our Youth Media Awards episode of the Booklovers Podcast. Listen here.
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang “was quite an unexpected romance novel. The main character, Stella, has Asperger’s Syndrome so she struggles with intimacy in relationships. Her solution? Hire a male escort to teach her…stuff. This book shines a light on autism and is the perfect blend of steamy romance, culture, and self-acceptance. I loved how different the characters were but, their differences are what brings them together.”
~Shayna, Adult Services
The Bride Test by Helen Huang
Next up is The Bride Test by Helen Huang. “The mother of an autistic son goes to Vietnam to find a bride for her son. What follows is a sweet romance that takes place between an unlikely pair. (The Bride Test is the second title in the Kiss Quotient series.)”
~Jeanne, Collection Development Librarian
The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo
Last up is The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo, a retelling of The Great Gatsby. “It dazzles with its luxuriously louche writing, giving us a 1920s with magical elixirs and infernal bargains. Told from Jordan Baker’s POV, we get The Other/Outsider as a narrator for the privileged, white, world of wealth where having your lineage known can open, or close, Society’s doors.”
~Laura, Digital Specialist
Finally, Enjoy reading or listening to a book by an AAPI author or featuring AAPI characters anytime of year but especially during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!.