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Celebrating Asian American, Pacific Islander, and Native Hawaiian Authors

Children’s books have the remarkable power to ignite young imaginations, foster empathy, and teach valuable life lessons. That’s why we encourage everyone to read at least 30 minutes each day. In recent years, there has been a surge of talented authors from the Asian American, Pacific Islander, and Native Hawaiian (AAPINH) community who have been creating captivating and diverse stories for young readers. These authors not only bring their unique cultural perspectives to their work but also provide much-needed representation for AAPINH children. In this blog, we celebrate the creativity and achievements of AAPINH children’s book authors who are shaping the literary landscape for the next generation.

Grace Lin

Grace Lin is a renowned children’s book author and illustrator whose works have garnered numerous awards and accolades. Her books, such as Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same! reflect her Taiwanese heritage and celebrate the richness of Chinese folklore. Through her enchanting storytelling and vibrant illustrations, Lin has captivated readers of all ages, promoting understanding and appreciation of Asian cultures.

Visit Grace Lin’s website for fun activities to go with her books.

Minh Lê

Minh Lê is an author who skillfully weaves together engaging narratives and heartfelt themes in his children’s books. His critically acclaimed picture book, Drawn Together, beautifully explores the cross-generational and cross-cultural bond between a young boy and his grandfather, emphasizing the power of art to transcend language barriers. Other books include, LiftThe Blurand the graphic novel, Green Lantern: Legacy. Lê’s Vietnamese American heritage often finds its way into his stories, allowing young readers to connect with diverse experiences. Lê often collaborates with Thai American author and illustrator, Dan Santat. He also serves on the board of We Need Diverse Books.

Watch Minh Lê talk about why we need more diverse books.

Michelle Sterling

Michelle Sterling is an author, speech language pathologist, and photographer of Filipino heritage. Her books, When Lola VisitsA Sweet New Year for Ren, and Maribel’s Year, draw from her family heritage and her love of food. Through fun stories and colorful illustrations, her books explore themes of family, traditions, and finding place.

Check out Michelle Sterling’s blog for a fun recipe inspired by Maribel’s Year.

Kanoa Kau-Arteaga

Kanoa Kau-Arteaga is a Native Hawaiian author and advocate for the transgender community. His child’s book, Colors of Aloha, introduces young children to the colors of Hawaii through the nature of the islands.

This video is a fun follow-up because it teaches the Hawaiian colors in a song.

Arree Chung

Arree Chung is an author and illustrator who creates imaginative and thought-provoking stories for children. His book, Mixed: A Colorful Story, tackles the topic of diversity and inclusion in a way that is accessible and relatable to young readers. Chung’s Chinese heritage often informs his work, empowering children to celebrate their unique identities while appreciating the diverse world around them. Some of Chung’s other books include Ninja! And Out!.

Check out Arree Chung’s website for drawing guides, coloring pages, and other activities.

Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu

Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu is a Native Hawaiian filmmaker, teacher, and activist who works to preserve indigenous culture and language through media. She is also co-author of the book, Kapaemahu, which tells the story of four people who bring their healing power from Tahiti to Hawaii.

Learn more about the story of Kapemahu, including Wong-Kalu’s short film, activities, and more. Maia Shibutani

Maia and Alex Shibutani

Ice dancers, Maia and Alex Shibutani collaborated with journalist, Dane Liu, on the book Amazing:Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Who Inspire Us All, which highlights 36 amazing people from Asian American and Pacific Islander communities through beautiful illustrations and short, compelling biographies. The Shibutani’s have also started a middle grades fiction series called Kudo Kids, which draws on some of their experiences traveling and competing in the Olympics.

Watch Maia and Alex Shibutani talking about Amazing on the CBS Morning Show.

The contributions of Asian American, Pacific Islander, and Native Hawaiian children’s book authors to the literary world are invaluable. Through their stories, they empower and inspire young readers, while also providing much-needed representation for AAPINH children. These authors celebrate the rich tapestry of cultures within the AAPINH communities, fostering empathy, understanding, and appreciation. As we continue to diversify children’s literature, it is essential to uplift and support AAPINH authors and their incredible works. By reading their stories, we open doors to new worlds, broaden horizons, and cultivate a generation of empathetic and compassionate individuals.

Learn more about Asian American, Pacific Islanders, and Native Hawaiians in the other Kids Co. posts:

Honoring Asian American, Pacific Islander, and Native Hawaiian Heritage

Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders (AAPI), and Native Hawaiians (NH) Contributions to STEM

Looking for more book recommendations? Check out these other lists from Kids Co.

Celebrating Female Authors Then and Now

Celebrating Arab American Children’s Book Authors

Our Team’s Favorite Children’s Books

Kids Co.’s Black History Month Book List for Kids

Black History Month Reading and Watch List for Adults

The Icelandic Book Tradition We Are Celebrating This Holiday Season