One Book, Everyone Reads 2021Panda Reading a Book

Chinese American Books for Young Readers

Our One Book, Everyone Reads 2021 selection is Interior Chinatown, by Charles Yu. To encourage younger readers to participate in our discussions of Chinese American literature, culture, and experiences, we have created this list of recent critically acclaimed children’s books featuring Chinese American characters and historical figures. We have also included one Chinese Canadian and one Chinese Australian book, noted below.

 

Picture Books & Early Readers

Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao

Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao

By Kat Zhang & illustrated by Charlene Chua

Amy is determined to make a perfect bun like the grown-ups in her family do, but hers always come out wrong. This intergenerational story celebrates perseverance, ingenuity, and togetherness. Suggested for ages 4–8.


Eyes That Kiss in the Corners

Eyes That Kiss in the Corners

By Joanna Ho & Doug Ho

In this beautifully illustrated ode to family, a self-confident young girl recounts how she shares her eyes—“that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea"—and so much more with her mother, her amah, and her little sister. Suggested for ages 4–8.


Ginger and Chrysanthemum

Ginger and Chrysanthemum

By Kristen Mai Giang & illustrated by Shirley Chan

When two cousins, as different as they are close, plan Grandma’s birthday party, it seems like a recipe for disaster. To their surprise, celebrating their individuality is the key to finding common ground. Suggested for ages 4–8.


Hot Pot Night!

Hot Pot Night!

By Vincent Chen

Dinnertime becomes a community event when neighbors share ingredients and make a delicious pot of Chinese soup. This rhythmic, colorful picture book includes a recipe for hot pot. Suggested for ages 2–5.


I Dream of Popo

I Dream of Popo

By Livia Blackburne & Julia Kuo

This sweet intergenerational story celebrates the bond between a girl and her grandmother, which is strong enough to stretch all the way from Taiwan to the United States after the girl’s family emigrates. Suggested for ages 3–6.

 

Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same!

Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same! (Ling & Ting #1)

By Grace Lin

Ling and Ting are twins that people think are exactly the same, but time and again they prove to be different. This early reader series incorporates gentle humor and Chinese American culture. Lin is also the creator of numerous award-winning picture books and novels. Suggested for ages 6–9.

 

My Day with Gong Gong

My Day with Gong Gong

By Sennah Yee & illustrated by Elaine Chen

May speaks no Chinese. Her grandfather speaks little English. But as they spend a day together in Chinatown, it is clear that love transcends the generational and cultural gaps between them. Suggested for ages 4–8.

Chapter Books & Middle Grade Fiction

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things (Alvin Ho #1)

By Lenore Look & illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Alvin, who loves superheroes and comes from a long line of brave Chinese farmer-warriors, wants to make friends, but first he must overcome his fear of everything. Fans of this funny chapter book series will also want to check out Look’s Ruby Lu series. Suggested for grades 2–4.

 

Cilla Lee-Jenkins: Future Author Extraordinaire

Cilla Lee-Jenkins: Future Author Extraordinaire (Cilla Lee-Jenkins #1)

By Susan Tan & illustrated by Dana Wulfekotte

Cilla narrates her “memoir” about expecting a new sibling, being biracial, and her path to literary greatness in this humorous novel and series opener. Suggested for grades 2–5.

 

Clues to the Universe

Clues to the Universe

By Christina Li

Ro and Benji strike an unusual deal: Ro will help find Benji’s estranged father if he helps her build a science-fair winning rocket. Meanwhile, the friends wrestle with bullying, cultural identity, and grief in this moving novel. Suggested for grades 4–7.

 

The Comeback

The Comeback

By E.L. Shen

Maxine Chen dreams of being a figure skating champion, but a remarkably talented new girl at the arena and a racist classmate at school test her resolve. Suggested for grades 4–6.

 

The Dragon Warrior

The Dragon Warrior (The Dragon Warrior #1)

By Katie Zhao

Jade Society member Faryn Liu may be destined to command the Jade Emperor's army of demon-fighting dragons, but first she must complete a daring quest across several Chinatowns before the Lunar New Year. Suggested for grades 4–7.

 

The Fake-Chicken Kung Fu Fighting Blues

The Fake-Chicken Kung Fu Fighting Blues

By Aaron Lam & illustrated by Kean Soo

Moving from Toronto’s Chinatown to tiny, hockey-obsessed Berksburg is hard for Anthony, but it’s even harder for his grandmother, who speaks no English. In this funny, feel-good novel, Anthony’s efforts to make Po Po feel more at home end up bringing the entire community together. Suggested for grades 4–7.

 

Front Desk

Front Desk (Front Desk #1)

By Kelly Yang

Recent immigrants from China, Mia’s parents take a job managing a rundown motel, and Mia herself works the front desk. Mia joins forces with the motel’s long-term residents, her school friends, and other immigrants to imagine a new future for it and themselves in this empowering, multiple award-winning novel. Suggested for grades 3–6.

 

Pie in the Sky

Pie in the Sky

By Remy Lai

In this funny and touching graphic/fiction hybrid, Jingwen, who knows very little English, feels like a space alien when his family immigrates to Australia. Comfort comes from a surprising source, as he begins baking elaborate cakes with his annoying little brother. Suggested for grades 3–7.

 

Prairie Lotus

Prairie Lotus

By Linda Sue Park

In Dakota Territory in the 1880s, half-Chinese Hanna and her white father face racism and resistance to change as they try to make a home for themselves. A refreshing take on pioneer times that moves beyond white settler perspective. Suggested for grades 4–7.

 

This Is Just a Test

This Is Just a Test

By Madelyn Rosenberg & Wendy Wan-Long Shang

It’s 1983, and David is worried: his bar mitzvah is coming, his Jewish and Chinese grandmothers argue about everything, he is beginning to notice girls, and his friend has persuaded him to dig a fallout shelter in case the Cold War heats up. Written with a light touch, it all makes for a surprisingly heartwarming comedy. Suggested for grades 4–8.

Graphic Novels

Measuring Up

Measuring Up

By Lily LaMotte & illustrated by Ann Xu

Having just moved to Seattle from Taiwan, Cici enters a cooking competition to win the chance to see her grandmother again, but she only knows how to cook Taiwanese food. Suggested for grades 3–7.

 

Secret Coders

Secret Coders (Secret Coders #1)

By Gene Luen Yang & Mike Holmes

Using their wits and their growing prowess with coding, Hopper and her friend Eni are determined to solve the mysteries of Stately Academy. Suggested for grades 4–8.

 

Stargazing

Stargazing

By Jen Wang

Growing up in the same Chinese American suburb, perfectionist Christine and artistic, confident, impulsive Moon become unlikely best friends whose friendship is tested by jealousy, social expectations, and illness. Suggested for grades 3–7.

Biographies

The Fearless Flights of Hazel Ying Lee

The Fearless Flights of Hazel Ying Lee

By Julie Leung & illustrated by Julie Kwon

This inspiring picture book tells the story of Hazel Ying Lee, the first Chinese American woman to fly for the U.S. military, touching on the sexism and racism she experienced as well as celebrating her achievement. Suggested for grades 1–4.

 

Paper Son

Paper Son: The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong, Immigrant and Artist

By Julie Leung & illustrated by Chris Sasaki

Beautifully illustrated, this biography celebrates the trials and triumphs of Tyrus Wong, the Chinese American immigrant who created the iconic background paintings for Disney’s Bambi. Suggested for preschool–grade 3.

 

Queen of Physics

Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom

By Teresa Robeson & illustrated by Rebecca Huang

This empowering picture book follows Wu Chien Shiung as she battles sexism at home in China and racism in the United States of America to become what Newsweek called the “Queen of Physics” for her work on how atoms split. Suggested for kindergarten–grade 4.

 

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