May is Asian Heritage Month in Canada! Asian Heritage Month offers Canadians an opportunity to learn more about the history of Canadians of Asian heritage and to celebrate their contributions.
To help you and your family celebrate your heritage and/or learn about other cultures, we've put together a list of 6 children's book recommendations to celebrate Asian Heritage Month.
It is undeniable that representation matters. When children see images of characters that look just like them that reflect their identity, it affirms wonderful ideas they might not have thought possible otherwise. “That could be me. I can do that. I can dare to dream. Anything is possible for me.”
Moreover, diverse representations of characters in books are beneficial to all readers, it:
- Increases awareness of social practices and values of other cultures
- Encourages children across all backgrounds to interact with one another
- Helps readers to better understand world issues
- Encourages unity and empathy
Check out our recommended reading list below!
1. They Say Blue
Author & illustrator: Jillian Tamaki
(Ages 0-3 years)
Caldecott and Printz Honour-winning illustrator Jillian Tamaki brings us a poetic exploration of colour and nature from a young child’s point of view. They Say Blue follows a young girl as she contemplates colours in the known and the unknown, in the immediate world and the world beyond what she can see. The sea looks blue, yet water cupped in her hands is as clear as glass. Is a blue whale blue? She doesn’t know — she hasn’t seen one.
Stunningly beautiful illustrations flow from one spread to the next, as time passes and the imagination takes hold. The world is full of colour, and mystery too, in this first children's book from a highly acclaimed artist. (From Groundwood Books Ltd)
Author: Linda Sue Park
Illustrator: Ho Baek Lee
(Ages 4-7 years)
In bouncy rhyming text, an excited and hungry child tells about helping her mother make bee-bim bop: shopping, preparing ingredients, setting the table, and finally sitting down with her family to enjoy a favourite meal.
The energy and enthusiasm of the young narrator are conveyed in the whimsical illustrations, which bring details from the artist’s childhood in Korea to his depiction of a modern Korean American family. (From HarperCollins)
3. The Name Jar
Author and illustrator: Yangsook Choi
(Ages 3-7 years)
Being the new kid in school is hard enough, but what happens when nobody can pronounce your name? Having just moved from Korea, Unhei is anxious about fitting in. So instead of introducing herself on the first day of school, she decides to choose an American name from a glass jar. But while Unhei thinks of being a Suzy, Laura, or Amanda, nothing feels right. With the help of a new friend, Unhei will learn that the best name is her own.
From acclaimed creator Yangsook Choi comes the bestselling classic about finding the courage to be yourself and being proud of your background. (From Random House Children's Books)
4. Drawn Together
Author: Minh Lê
Illustrator: Dan Santat
(Ages 3-5 years)
The recipient of six starred reviews and the APALA Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature!
Named a Best Book of 2018 by the Wall Street Journal, NPR, Smithsonian, Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal, Booklist, the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, BookRiot, the New York Public Library, the Chicago Public Library—and many more!
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. (From Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Author: Susan Lendroth
Illustrator: Priscilla Burris
(Ages 4-8 years)
Natsumi is small but full of big exuberance, and puts her girl-power to good use when she discovers a Japanese tradition as energetic as she is.
When Natsumi''s family practices for their town''s Japanese arts festival, Natsumi tries everything. But her stirring is way too vigorous for the tea ceremony, her dancing is just too imaginative, and flower arranging doesn''t go any better. Can she find just the right way to put her exuberance to good use?
This heartwarming tale about being true to yourself is perfect for readers who march to their own beat. (From Penguin Young Readers Group)
6. Priya Dreams of Marigolds & Masala
Author and Illustrator: Meena Patel
(Ages 4-8 years)
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. (Beaver's Pond Press)
Rudine Sims Bishop, The Ohio State University. "Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors" originally appeared in Perspectives: Choosing Books for the Classroom. Vo. 6, no. 3. Summer 1990.