Picture books for Asian American and Pacific Islander history month

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Picture Books for Asian American and Pacific Islander History Month

by | May 14, 2024 | Books about Asian Americans | 1 comment

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander History Month, and of course I have a list of fun picture books for Asian American and Pacific Islander history month about people who have made a difference in our country’s  history. 

There are so many great fictional children’s books featuring Asian American and Pacific Islander characters, but my criteria for the book lists is to feature nonfiction stories. As I find more books about Asian Americans in history, I will continue to update this list. 

Be sure to save for reference! 


Picture books for Asian American history month
Wong Kim Ark I Am An American

I Am an American: The Wong Kim Ark Story

by Martha Brockenbrough and Grace Lin

Wong Kim Ark was born in America to Chinese immigrants. When racism against Chinese immigrants was rising (eventually leading to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882), Ark’s parents moved back to China. When he returned from a visit, he was detained and imprisoned.

Wong Kim Ark fought all the way up to the Supreme Court to have his citizenship respected as someone who was born on American soil.

Read the full review here – and don’t miss my son’s commentary at the end!



Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist

by Jess Keating, illustrated by Marta Alvarez Miguens

Eugenie Clark was a Japanese-American ichthyologist (zoologist who studies fishes). In a time when women were discouraged from continuing their education, Eugenie followed her passion for all things sharks.

This book follows her from her first discovery of her love of fish to her discovery of three different types of fish and ends by highlighting her advocacy for the value and protection of sharks.

This book is a must-read for any little ocean lover!

Dr Eugenie Clark Shark Lady
They Called us Enemy by George Takei

They Called Us Enemy

by George Takei and Justin Eisinger

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Japanese Americans experienced intense racism. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, thousands of Japanese Americans were forced to live in internment camps around the United States.

One of those Japanese Americans was George Takei, who would later become known as Sulu on Star Trek. Takei was forever impacted by his experiences in the camps, and he created a graphic novel series about his memories.

Check out the full review of these books here.

It Began with a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way

by Kyo Maclear, illustrator Julie Morstad


This book is another related to the Japanese internment camps. Artist Gyo Fujikawa was already an adult and living in another part of the country when her parents and the rest of her family were removed from their homes and sent to live in an internment camp.

Fujikawa believed that diversity was beautiful, and became known for her art books about ethnically diverse babies.

Read the full review here.

An illustration of Gyo Fujikawa putting back a page with illustrations about multiracial babies
Amazing: Asian Americans

Amazing: Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Who Inspire Us All

by Dane Liu and Maia Shibutani

Supreme Court battles, suffragettes, actors, and athletes – oh my! This book has it all. Each page is a short introduction to a person with AAPI heritage, their accomplishments, and what they stand for.

This book is a good one to use as a reference to find new heroes to learn more about.

Get your own copy here. 

Yes We Will: Asian Americans Who Shaped this Country

by Kelly Yang

I love these anthology-style books with so many short stories about people in history. Like Amazing, this book is filled with short essays about new people I hadn’t learned about yet.

Specifically, this book introduced my children to the Chinese Americans who helped to build the railroad system. When the authors mentioned that the Chinese Americans made significantly less money for the same work as the white Americans, my children were outraged.

It was a great way to talk about how anti-racist work includes advocating for equal pay for equal work.

Buy your copy here.

Yes We Will Asian Americans

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