Books for Summer Reading

Tomorrow marks the first official day of summer! Maybe it makes me a nerd, but one of my favorite parts of summer was the “Summer Reading List” our teachers sent us home with. With so many young readers taking time away from the classroom, I wanted to share my own list with you today. These are a few titles that have crossed my desk lately that I think perfectly capture the warmth and joy of summer.

As always, these titles will have inclusive characters (think racial and cultural diversity, LGBTQ+ representation, diverse family structures, disability representation, and more), and fall into a range of genres in both fiction and nonfiction categories.

Please Note: This post contains affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission from purchases made, with no additional cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and continue bringing content to you.

Together We Ride by Valerie Bolling, Illustrated by Kaylani Juanita

Hair Love meets bike rides in this loving portrait of a father-daughter relationship.

Learning to ride is no easy feat! But with a little courage, a guiding hand from her dad, and an enthusiastic bark from her pup, one brave girl quickly learns the freedom that comes from an afternoon spent outside on a bike.

Experience the fear, the anticipation, and the delight of achieving the ultimate milestone in this energetic, warm story that celebrates the precious bond between parent and child.”

Sand Between My Toes by Caroline Cross, Illustrated by Jenny Duke

“A family spends a day at the seaside, enjoying the smells and sensations that are unique to the coast. Evocative rhyming text immerses the reader in the experience of visiting a beach.”

My Book of Butterflies by Geraldo Valério

This stunning exploration of butterflies from around the world is a companion to My Book of Birds

Geraldo Valério grew up in Brazil, watching white butterflies visit the vegetable patch behind his house. As he got older, he learned more about these unique and beautiful insects, which can be found on every continent except Antarctica.

In this gorgeous album, Geraldo presents his favorite butterfly species from around the world. Paint and paper collage illustrations show the butterflies in flight, sipping nectar, laying eggs and resting among flowers and foliage. The text provides fascinating information about each species ― from familiar Monarchs and Giant Swallowtails, to dazzling Blue Morphos and tiny Snowflakes, from beautifully patterned European Peacocks to endangered Queen Alexandra’s Birdwings. Colorful endpapers, showing the butterflies as caterpillars and chrysalides, complete this beautiful book for budding young naturalists.”

Pool Party by Amy Duchêne and Elisa Parhad, Illustrated by Anne Bentley

A splashy story celebrating a fun-filled day at a public pool

Splash, dash! It’s time for a pool bash! Grab your swimsuits, inner tubes, noodles, and floats, and jump, belly flop, or dive into this wet and wild ode to swimming pool fun.”

A Park Connects Us by Sarah Nelson, Illustrated by Ellen Rooney

An ode to urban parks and the many ways they connect us to community and nature

This picture book excursion through a city park invites readers to discover how shared green spaces bring us together. Lyrical, upbeat text illuminates the abundant gifts the park offers. Vibrant mixed-media illustrations show a diverse group of visitors as they explore this communal space.”

Ice Cream Face by Heidi Woodward Sheffield

The Ezra Jack Keats Award–winning creator of Brick by Brick brings to delicious life the anxiety and elation involved in waiting in line to get ice cream.

As far as this ice-cream-loving kid is concerned, every meal should include ice cream. In any form, in every flavor, he loves it all. But what he doesn’t love is seeing other people with ice cream .  .  .  while he’s still waiting in line for his. That’s when he can get his mad, “no-ice-cream-yet, waiting-in-a-long-line face”–until he finally gets his cone, and his mad face melts into something sweet. Heidi Woodward Sheffield gently explores a range of emotions as they relate to this delicious, everyday experience.”

I Love You Like Yellow by Andrea Beaty, Illustrated by Vashti Harrison

“Love comes in many forms. It can feel tart as lemonade, or sweet as sugar cookies. Slow as a lazy morning, or fast as a relay race. Love is there through it all: the large and small moments, the good times and bad. And at the end of the day, love settles us down to bed with a hug and kiss goodnight.

With charming, rhyming text from bestselling author Andrea Beaty and lush, heartwarming illustrations by bestselling illustrator Vashti Harrison, I Love You Like Yellow celebrates the unconditional love that pulses through life’s profound and everyday moments—and the people who make them so special.”

Look What I Found at the Beach by Moira Butterfield, Illustrated by Jesus Verona

Open your senses to a world of wonder by taking a walk along the beach!

Set off on an adventure and find natural treasures, from spiraled seashells to discarded mermaid’s purses. Then learn more about the marine plants and creatures in this fact-filled guide to the outdoors.”

The World Belonged To Us by Jacqueline Woodson, Illustrated by Leo Espinosa

“It’s getting hot outside, hot enough to turn on the hydrants and run through the water–and that means it’s finally summer in the city! Released from school and reveling in their freedom, the kids on one Brooklyn block take advantage of everything summertime has to offer. Freedom from morning till night to go out to meet their friends and make the streets their playground–jumping double Dutch, playing tag and hide-and-seek, building forts, chasing ice cream trucks, and best of all, believing anything is possible. That is, till their moms call them home for dinner. But not to worry–they know there is always tomorrow to do it all over again–because the block belongs to them and they rule their world.”

When I Listen To Silence by Jean E. Pendziwol, Illustrated by Carmen Mok

When a child is asked to “Please, be quiet!” they sit silent … and their imagination sweeps them away on a breathtaking journey.

Through the window, the child can hear the trees breathe and watches them sway back and forth as they begin to dance. Then bears join in, accompanied by the child on their drum, making so much noise they wake up a dragon! The dragon’s smoky breath fills the sky, and the wind forms a knight on a steed that gallops through the stars. The child’s adventure continues, as one wonderful flight of fancy leads to the next, from pirates to mermaids to whales, until they find themselves sitting silent once again among the trees.”

Be a Good Ancestor by Leona Prince and Gabrielle Prince, Illustrated by Carla Joseph

Rooted in Indigenous teachings, this stunning picture book encourages readers of all ages to consider the ways in which they live in connection to the world around them and to think deeply about their behaviors.

Addressing environmental issues, animal welfare, self-esteem and self-respect, and the importance of community, the authors deliver a poignant and universal message in an accessible way: Be a good ancestor to the world around you. Thought-provoking stanzas offer a call to action for each one of us to consider how we affect future generations. Every decision we make ripples out, and we can affect the world around us by thinking deeply about those decisions.”

Expedition Backyard: Exploring Nature from Country to City by Rosemary Mosco and Binglin Hu

Join two best friends—a mole and vole—on their everyday expeditions to find beautiful plants, meet new animals, and learn more about the world all around them in this nonfiction graphic novel.

Each day, Mole and Vole venture out into the world – never forgetting their nature journal! – to see what they can find in their own backyard. From pigeons and jumping spiders to swamp milkweed and maple trees, these two explorers get to know every part of their local environment. But after an accidental move from the country to the city, Mole and Vole worry that everything will be different. As they explore, they discover plants to look at and animals to meet in their new home as well.”

Rooftop Garden by Danna Smith, Illustrated by Pati Aguilera, Narrated by Holly Turton

“A group of city friends work diligently together to grow herbs and vegetables in a rooftop garden. Set to a foot-tappin’ original tune, this rhythmic, rhyming story will have kids singing enthusiastically about the six stages of plant growth. The story concludes with a summer harvest and feast that celebrates the gardeners’ commitment.”

My Mommy, My Mama, My Brother, and Me: These Are the Things We Found By the Sea by Natalie Meisner, Illustrated by Mathilde Cinq-Mars

“Living by the sea offers myriad charms for the two young brothers in this poetic ode to beachcombing. When the fog disappears, the path to the beach beckons, with all the treasures it leaves behind: lobster traps, buoys, fused glass, urchins, a note in a bottle. But best of all is all the neighbours they meet along the way. An unforgettable instant classic for families of all shapes and sizes. Featuring glorious watercolours by Mathilde Cinq-Mars, which capture the warmth and magic of time spent with family by the sea.”

Choices by Roozeboos

“A girl considers her future while she people-watches at her local outdoor pool. Choices, both insignificant and life-changing, are all around us. Whether we want to make a splash or just dip our toes into new experiences, there’s always a decision involved. Profound and humorous, CHOICES encourages readers to value the power behind their thoughts and actions!”

I hope you’re all staying cool this summer, and soaking up the sun while it lasts. Be sure to share what you’re planning to read this summer in the comments below!

You Might Also Like:

Review: The Hair Book

I’m thrilled to be sharing another one of my Most Anticipated Picture Books of 2022 with you all today! The Hair Book by Latonya Yvette and Amanda Jane Jones is a gorgeous concept book that celebrates all kinds of hair, and it lived up to all of my expectations!

Title: The Hair Book
Author: Latonya Yvette
Illustrator: Amanda Jane Jones
Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books
Published: May 3, 2022
Format: Picture Book and Board Book

Out now in both picture book and board book formats, this lovely concept book introduces the youngest readers to the diverse hair types found throughout the world. The alliterative text is paired with bright illustrations, capturing a unique character featuring each type of hair. I also really appreciated the inclusion of baldness and a couple of head coverings/hats of different faiths. The Hair Book encourages children to embrace and celebrate their hair; whether it is long or short, curly or straight, it is beautiful!

The illustrations are absolutely wonderful! The bold, colorful pages are sure to draw young readers in. Just look how fun these spreads are!

You can pick up your own copy of The Hair Book wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Thank you so much to Union Square Kids for sharing this delightful book with me! I know I’ll be reading this one to my little one over and over again!

About the Author:

LaTonya Yvette is a Brooklyn, NY-born and -based writer, creative director, and founder of LY, an eponymous lifestyle site focused on style, motherhood, culture, and wellbeing. LaTonya’s first book Woman Of Color was published in 2019 (Abrams), and her next body of work is a collection of essays to be published by Dial Press. Learn more at: latonyayvette.com and on Instagram @latonyayvette.

About The Illustrator:

Amanda Jane Jones is an award-winning graphic designer and illustrator, and a mother of three. She is the author of Yum Yummy Yuck, the founding designer and co-creator of Kinfolk magazine, and the founder of Define Magazine. Learn more at: amandajanejones.com and on Instagram @amandajanejones.

You Might Also Like:

20 Books to Celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Year Round

I’m sure many of you are aware that May is National Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in the US. Last year, I celebrated by sharing a booklist at the beginning of the month, but this year I had something else in mind.

This year, I want to share a few titles that have crossed my desk recently, as well as a few releases I’m looking forward to. I hope this list inspires you to keep reading widely throughout the year, and remember that Asian American and Pacific Islander voices are important year-round, and not just during the month we celebrate them. So without further ado, here are 20 books to help you bring AAPI titles to the rest of your year, in no particular order.

Please Note: This post contains affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission from purchases made, with no additional cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and continue bringing content to you.

Gibberish by Young Vo

“It’s Dat’s first day of school in a new country! Dat and his Mah made a long journey to get here, and Dat doesn’t know the language. To Dat, everything everybody says – from the school bus driver to his new classmates – sounds like gibberish. How is Dat going to make new friends if they can’t understand each other?

Luckily there’s a friendly girl in Dat’s class who knows that there are other ways to communicate, besides just talking. Could she help make sense of the gibberish?”

I Am an American: The Wong Kim Ark Story by Martha Brockenbrough and Grace Lin, Illustrated by Julia Kuo

“When American-born Wong Kim Ark returns home to San Francisco after a visit to China, he’s stopped and told he cannot enter: he isn’t American. What happens next would forever change the national conversation on who is and isn’t American. After being imprisoned on a ship for months, Wong Kim Ark takes his case to the Supreme Court and argues any person born in America is an American citizen.
 
I am an American: The Wong Kim Ark Story is an important picture book that introduces young readers to the young man who challenged the Supreme Court for his right to be an American citizen and won, confirming birthright citizenship for all Americans.”

Kesar and the Lullaby Birds by Aditi Oza, illustrated by Debasmita Dasgupta

Kesar’s baby sister Kamal will not sleep. Their entire village in the Great Rann of Kutch is kept awake by the infant’s cries and her parents are exhausted. When Kesar and Kamal’s ba comes to visit, her stories give Kesar a wonderful idea. Perhaps what Kesar needs to put her baby sister to sleep is a little bit of desert magic!

A vibrant celebration of traditional artisans from India, this picture book is a sweet sibling bedtime story at heart, featuring a big sister who figures out how to care for her baby sister with some help from her grandmother’s lovingly made gifts.

Amy Wu and the Warm Welcome by Kat Zhang, Illustrated by Charlene Chua

Amy Wu does her best to make her new classmate feel welcome in this warmhearted and playfully illustrated follow-up picture book to Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao and Amy Wu and the Patchwork Dragon.

Amy’s class has a new student from China! Amy tries hard to make Lin feel included, but she can’t draw him out of his shell. Then she sees Lin chattering happily in Chinese with his family. The gears in her head start to turn, and a plan blossoms. Step one: invite Lin to her dumpling party…

​With a little help from her grandma and a shiny new banner, can Amy give Lin the warmest welcome?

Yes We Will: Asian Americans Who Shaped This Country by Kelly Yang, Illustrated by Nabi H. Ali, Fahmida Azim, Marcos Chin, Sally Deng, Shereya Gupta, Julia Kuo, Julie Kwon, Nhung Le, Kitkat Pecson, Dow Phumiruk, Sujean Rim, Dan Santat, Yuko Shimizu, Yuewei She, and Yao Xiao

From creating beautiful music like Yo-Yo Ma to flying to outer space like Franklin Chang-Díaz; from standing up to injustice like Fred Korematsu to becoming the first Asian American, Black and female vice president of the United States like Kamala Harris, this book illuminates the power of Asian Americans all over the country, in all sorts of fields.
 
Each spread is illustrated by a different renowned Asian American or Asian artist. Alongside the poetic main text, Yes We Will includes one-line biographies of the person or historical moment featured on the page, with extended biographies at the end. Readers of different ages and needs can use the book in different ways, from classroom discussions to bedtime readalouds and more.
 
Yes We Will answers the question, can we accomplish whatever we dream? With love, courage, determination, and lots of imagination, we can—and we will!

A Life of Service: The Story of Senator Tammy Duckworth by Christina Soontornvat, Illustrated by Dow Phumiruk

Given Tammy Duckworth’s personal heroism as an Army veteran, her stunning recovery from injuries sustained in the line of duty, and her subsequent career as an influential US senator, it’s easy to see why Joe Biden earmarked her as a possible running mate during his Democratic presidential campaign. Senator Duckworth has logged a long list of firsts during her tenure as the first Thai American member of Congress, including being the first woman with a disability to serve in the House and Senate. But it is her tireless determination to keep going against staggering odds that will rivet readers of all ages. Christina Soontornvat’s narrative biography of this groundbreaking military veteran and rising political star will inspire readers to dream and achieve. Evoking Senator Duckworth’s spirited nature with sensitivity and joy, this dramatic account of a life lived in the service of others includes a time line and suggestions for further reading.

I Am Golden by Eva Chen, Illustrated by Sophie Diao

This joyful and lyrical picture book from New York Times bestselling author Eva Chen and illustrator Sophie Diao is a moving ode to the immigrant experience, as well as a manifesto of self-love for Chinese American children.

What do you see when you look in the mirror, Mei? Do you see beauty?

We see eyes that point toward the sun, that give us the warmth and joy of a thousand rays when you smile. We see hair as inky black and smooth as a peaceful night sky. We see skin brushed with gold.

Punky Aloha by Shar Tuiasoa

Punky loves to do a lot of things—except meeting new friends. She doesn’t feel brave enough.

So when her grandmother asks her to go out and grab butter for her famous banana bread, Punky hesitates. But with the help of her grandmother’s magical sunglasses, and with a lot of aloha in her heart, Punky sets off on a BIG adventure for the very first time.

Will she be able to get the butter for grandma?

Punky Aloha is a Polynesian girl who carries her culture in her heart and in everything she does. Kids will love to follow this fun character all over the island of O’ahu.

American Desi by Jyoti Rajan Gopal, Illustrated by Supriya Kelkar

A young girl longs to know where she fits in: Is she American? Or is she Indian? Does she have to pick or can she be both? With bright, joyful rhyme, and paired with an immersive art style using American and Indian fabrics, American Desi celebrates the experiences of young children growing up first and second generation Indian American: straddling the two cultural worlds they belong to, embracing all they love of both worlds and refusing to be limited by either.

This story is a powerful tribute to the joy of being South Asian and for every reader who aspires to bridge their worlds with grace, grit, and confidence.

Shapes, Lines, and Light: My Grandfather’s American Journey by Katie Yamasaki

Katie Yamasaki’s newest picture book celebrates the life of her grandfather, the acclaimed Japanese American architect Minoru Yamasaki.

Minoru Yamasaki described the feeling he sought to create in his buildings as “serenity, surprise, and delight.” Here, Katie Yamasaki charts his life and work: his childhood in Seattle’s Japanese immigrant community, paying his way through college working in Alaska’s notorious salmon canneries, his success in architectural school, and the transformative structures he imagined and built. A Japanese American man who faced brutal anti-Asian racism in post–World War II America and an outsider to the architectural establishment, he nonetheless left his mark on the world, from the American Midwest to New York City, Asia, and the Middle East.

This striking picture book renders one artist’s work through the eyes of another, and tells a story of a man whose vision, hard work, and humanity led him to the pinnacle of his field.

Let’s Do Everything and Nothing by Julie Kuo

Let’s Do Everything and Nothing is a lush and lyrical picture book from Julia Kuo celebrating special moments―big and small―shared with a child.

Will you climb a hill with me?
Dive into a lake with me?
Reach the starry sky with me,
and watch the clouds parade?

Love can feel as vast as a sky full of breathtaking clouds or as gentle as a sparkling, starlit night. It can scale the tallest mountains and reach the deepest depths of the sea.

Standing side by side with someone you love, the unimaginable can seem achievable.
But not every magical moment is extraordinary. Simply being together is the best journey of all.

Fall Down Seven Times, Stand Up Eight: Patsy Takemoto Mink and the Fight for Title IX y Jen Bryant, Illustrated by Toshiki Nakamura

The only picture book biography about unsung hero Patsy Takemoto Mink, the first Asian American woman elected to Congress.

From a young age, Patsy Takemoto Mink learned that striving for goals came with challenges. But she also learned to never give up. As the Japanese proverb says: fall down seven times, stand up eight.

That spirit helped Patsy through school. She wanted to become a doctor, but at the time, medical schools didn’t admit women. So Patsy carved her own path. She went to law school, ran for a seat in the United States Congress, and helped create Title IX, the law that requires federally funded schools to treat boys and girls equally. Although many people tried to knock her down, Patsy—a historic trailblazer who spent her life fighting for fairness—always got up again!

From award-winning author Jen Bryant and illustrator Toshiki Nakamura comes an inspiring picture book biography that brings Patsy Takemoto Mink’s incredible legacy to life.

Amah Faraway by Margaret Chiu Greanias, Illustrated by Tracy Subisak

Kylie is nervous about visiting her grandmother-her Amah-who lives SO FAR AWAY.
When she and Mama finally go to Taipei, Kylie is shy with Amah. Even though they have spent time together in video chats, those aren’t the same as real life. And in Taiwan, Kylie is at first uncomfortable with the less-familiar language, customs, culture, and food. However, after she is invited by Amah-Lái kàn kàn! Come see!-to play and splash in the hot springs (which aren’t that different from the pools at home), Kylie begins to see this place through her grandmother’s eyes and sees a new side of the things that used to scare her. Soon, Kylie is leading her Amah-Come see! Lái kàn kàn!-back through all her favorite parts of this place and having SO MUCH FUN! And when it is time to go home, the video chats will be extra special until they can visit faraway again.

Backmatter includes author and illustrator notes and a guide to some of the places and foods explored in Taiwan.

Hundred Years of Happiness by Thanhhà Lai, Illustrated by Nguyen Quang and Kim Lien

A stunning picture book debut, showcasing the love between grandparents and grandchildren, the challenges of memory loss, and the joy that sweet reminders of a faraway home can bring, from award-winning, bestselling author Thanhhà Lại.

This sweet and emotional picture book will resonate with readers who love A Big Mooncake for Little StarLadder to the Moon, and Thank You, Omu!

An’s grandmother Bà sometimes gets trapped in her cloudy memories. An and her grandfather, Ông, come up with a plan to bring her back to a happy moment: they grow gấc fruits so they can make xôi gấc, Bà’s favorite dish from her wedding in Việt Nam many years ago.

An and Ông work together in the garden, nurturing the gấc seeds. They must be patient and wait for the seeds to grow, flower, and turn into fruit. When the xôi gấc is finally ready, An is hopeful that her grandmother will remember her wedding wish with Ông: hundred years of happiness.

Striking and vivid illustrations bring this tender story of a loving, intergenerational Vietnamese family to life.

Middle Grade

In The Beautiful Country by Jane Kuo

For fans of Jasmine Warga and Thanhhà Lại, this is a stunning novel in verse about a young Taiwanese immigrant to America who is confronted by the stark difference between dreams and reality.

Anna can’t wait to move to the beautiful country—the Chinese name for America. Although she’s only ever known life in Taiwan, she can’t help but brag about the move to her family and friends.

But the beautiful country isn’t anything like Anna pictured. Her family can only afford a cramped apartment, she’s bullied at school, and she struggles to understand a new language. On top of that, the restaurant that her parents poured their savings into is barely staying afloat. The version of America that Anna is experiencing is nothing like her dreams. How will she be able to make the beautiful country her home?

This lyrical and heartfelt story, inspired by the author’s own experiences, is about resilience, courage, and the struggle to make a place for yourself in the world.

A Is for Asian American: An Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Alphabet

The fabric of America is made up of countless threads weaving together different backgrounds and cultures. Using poetry and expository text, A is for Asian American: An Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Alphabet celebrates the cultures of and contributions from Asian Americans throughout our country’s history. Letter topics include traditions in food, family, and social celebrations, as well as key moments in history and milestone achievements. A is for Asian American illuminates the amazing and ongoing role the Asian American community has played in the shaping of America. Front and back matter provides additional information, including a glossary.

The Secret Battle of Evan Pao by Wendy Wan-Long Shang

A fresh start. That’s all Evan Pao wants as he, along with his mother and sister, flee from California to Haddington, Virginia, hoping to keep his father’s notoriety a secret.

But Haddington is a southern town steeped in tradition, and moving to a town immersed in the past has its own price. Although Evan quickly makes friends, one boy, Brady Griggs, seems determined to make sure that as a Chinese American, Evan feels that he does not belong. When Evan finds a unique way to make himself part of the school’s annual Civil War celebration, the reaction is swift and violent. As all of his choices at home and at school collide, Evan must decide whether he will react with the same cruelty shown to him, or choose a different path.

Wendy Wan-Long Shang, the critically acclaimed author of Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association Award for Children’s Literature winner The Great Wall of Lucy Wu, weaves a timely and deeply moving portrait of all the secret battles Evan Pao must fight as he struggles to figure out how he fits into this country’s past and how he will shape its future.

We Are Here: 30 Inspiring Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Who Have Shaped the United States by Naomi Hirahara, Illustrated by Illianette Ferandez

A stunning anthology licensed in partnership with the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, We Are Here celebrates 30 of the most inspiring Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in U.S. history.

There are more than 23 million people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent living in the United States. Their stories span across generations, as well as across the world. We Are Here highlights thirty Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and the impact they’ve had on the cultural, social, and political fabric of the United States.

Days of Infamy: How a Century of Bigotry Led to Japanese American Internment by Lawrence Goldstone

In another unrelenting look at the iniquities of the American justice system, Lawrence Goldstone, acclaimed author of Unpunished Murder, Stolen Justice, and Separate No More, examines the history of racism against Japanese Americans, exploring the territory of citizenship and touching on fears of non-white immigration to the US — with hauntingly contemporary echoes.

Asian American Women in Science: An Asian American History Book for Kids by Tina Cho

Stories of amazing Asian American women who broke barriers in science—for kids ages 8 to 12

Kazue Togasaki was one of the first Japanese American women to become a doctor. Chien-Shiung Wu was a Chinese American physicist who worked on top-secret projects. Isabella Aiona Abbott became an expert on the marine plant life of her native Hawaii. Asian American women are a huge part of scientific discovery, and this collection of biographies for kids explores 15 brilliant women, and how they used their intelligence and determination to overcome challenges and succeed.

Open up this Asian American children’s book and meet some of the scientists who helped:

  • Pave the way—Find out how people like inventor Alice Min Soo Chun and computer programmer Josephine Jue designed amazing new technology and spent time educating others.
  • Heal the sick—Learn about doctors like Joan Block and Jacqueline Whang-Peng who revolutionized how we treat diseases like hepatitis B and cancer.
  • Explore new worlds—Discover how botanist Roseli Ocampo-Friedmann and mathematician Angelita Castro-Kelly changed the way we think about outer space.

Dive into a world of inspiring women with this science-focused entry into Asian American books for kids.

Are you looking forward to any new releases that celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islanders throughout the remainder of the year? Be sure to share them in the comments!

You Might Also Like:

Review: I Am Able to Shine

I’m sure many of you already know that May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. To kick off the celebrations, I am sharing I Am Able to Shine by husband and wife duo Korey Watari and Mike Wu. Inspired by Korey’s own experiences growing up as a young Asian American girl in Los Angeles, I Am Able to Shine is an empowering picture book about embracing your identity and finding your voice

Title: I Am Able to Shine
Author: Korey Watari
Illustrator: Mike Wu
Publisher: Two Lions
Published: May 1, 2022
Format: Picture Book

I Am Able to Shine follows a young girl names Keiko who wants to shine and change the world. But sometimes Keiko feels invisible. With the love and support of her family, Keiko learns that she is enough by just be being herself. Her confidence blooms and she stands tall, proud of herself and her heritage all the way into her adult life where she achieves great things.

Korey Watari wrote this inspiring picture book for her daughters, and it shows in the very best way. You can see the love on every single page.

The backmatter contains a heartfelt author’s note as well as further detail about aspects of Japanese life that are mentioned throughout the book. I love that this book is both a mirror for young Japanese American readers, and a window for young readers who are less familiar with Japanese culture.

Mike Wu’s illsutrations bring Keiko’s story to life beautifully. His artwork has been described as “reminiscent of classics like Harry the Dirty Dog and Curious George”, and I can absolutely see why. I was instantly transported back to my childhood, and I loved the nostalgia of it all.

I Am Able to Shine officially released yesterday, so you can find a copy wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Thank you so much to Two Lions for sharing this beautiful book with me. I’m so grateful to share it with everyone today!

About the Creators:

Husband-and-wife team Korey Watari and Mike Wu live in the San Francisco Bay area in California with their two lively daughters. This is their first picture book together.


Korey is a sansei, or third-generation Japanese American, born and raised in Los Angeles. She played basketball for a Japanese American league, graduated from the University of California, Riverside, and studied at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. Korey has worked in the animation and fashion industries for companies such as Disney and the Gap. This is her first picture book. Learn more at http://www.koreywatari.com or on Twitter at @tinyteru.


Mike is the author and illustrator of the acclaimed, bestselling Ellie series, the first picture book of which was named one of NPR’s best books of the year. He is also a Pixar artist and has worked on films including The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Up, Toy Story 3, Coco, and Soul. His illustrations have been hailed as “reminiscent of classics like Harry the Dirty Dog and Curious George.” Visit him at http://www.theartofmikewu.com or on Instagram at @wudog23.

You Might Also Like:

Review: Same Here! The Differences We Share

Today I’m sharing a creative picture book that celebrates the many unique ways people across the globe live. Same Here! The Differences We Share by Susan Hughes and Sophie Casson shares a glance into the day-to-day lives of young kids around the world, offering young readers a window into the lives of others.

Title: Same Here! The Differences We Share
Author: Susan Hughes
Illustrator: Sophie Casson
Publisher: Owl Kids
Published: April 15, 2022
Format: Illustrated Middle Grade

While Same Here! highlights the many many differences children’s lives may have, such as different cultures, socio-economic realities, and access to health and education, it also highlights the commonalities in everyone’s life. Each section is titled with the things we all need, like communication, food, shelter, and community. In these sections, Susan Hughes shares thought-provoking snapshots of the lives of young children drawn from her extensive research, encouraging children to draw connections between their own lives and those of other children in different countries.

The illustrations by Sophie Casson are wonderful. I loved the the bright colors used, but I especially appreciated the way the colors are consistent throughout, providing visual reminders of the similarities in the children’s lives.

Same Here! would be perfect for the classroom, and I would highly recommend it to fans of One Day, Many Ways, Who am I?, and This is How We Do It. This one will be officially released tomorrow (April 15, 2022), but you can preorder your copy today wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Many thanks to Owl Kids for sending me a review copy of this amazing book! I was delighted to learn about the experiences of children across the world, and I’m so grateful to share it with you all today.

About The Author:

SUSAN HUGHES has written many books, both fiction and nonfiction, for children of all ages, including Carmen and the House That Gaudí Built, What Happens Next, and Off to Class. Susan is a freelance editor, writer, and story coach. She lives in Toronto, Canada.

About the Illustrator:

SOPHIE CASSON has illustrated a number of children’s books, including The Artist and Me, a finalist for the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award, and Helen’s Birds. Her highly acclaimed illustrations have also appeared in many international publications, including The Globe and Mail, The New York Times, and The Financial Times. Sophie lives in Montreal, Quebec.

You Might Also Like:

Review: Only One

If you’re looking for a book for Earth Day next week, I’ve got the perfect selection for you today. Only One by Deborah Hopkinson and Chuck Groenink is a wonderful nonfiction picture book that introduces young readers to our planet and the precious life that can be found on Earth.

Title: Only One
Author: Deborah Hopkinson
Illustrator: Chuck Groenink
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Published: April 5, 2022
Format: Picture Book

Following our narrator, a young girl, readers learn about the universe, the galaxy, and, of course, our planet. Starting with a BIG BANG and working her way all the way down to the microscopic life here on earth, she simply introduces lots of complex ideas in a way young readers can easily digest. Our narrator also reminds us that there is only one. One universe, one galaxy, and one planet that we inhabit. This is a great book to open conversations about the importance of caring for our family and the many ways we can do that.

The backmatter has lots of resources for further learning, including NASA Climate Kids, where parents and educators can find a variety of activities for different age groups to inspire the next generation to take care of our one and only Earth.

The illustrations by Chuck Groenink are absolutely delightful. I loved the warm colors throughout, but I especially appreciated the way the concepts become more tangible as the focus narrows to earth. The universe and galaxy are presented as ideas the children dream about, and then suddenly they are on Earth in nature, reminded that our planet is a part of something bigger. I thought it was a really lovely way to make the concepts easier to process for young readers.

Only One is available wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Thank you so much to Random House Children’s Books and Blue Slip Media for sharing Only One with me! I can’t wait to share it with my little one on Earth Day.

About the Author:

Deborah Hopkinson is the author of many highly acclaimed picture books, including A Letter to My Teacher, which received two starred reviews, and the modern classic Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt, which the New York Times called “inspiring.” Her other books include Sky Boys: How They Built the Empire State Building, a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book; and Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek: A Tall, Thin Tale, an ALA-ALSC Notable Children’s Book. She lives in Oregon with her family. Visit her at deborahhopkinson.com.

About the Illustrator:

Chuck Groenink is the illustrator of 16 Words by Lisa Rogers, which the New York Times described as “warm and cozy,” as well as Hank’s Big Day by Evan Kuhlman, which received three starred reviews. His other picture books include William’s Winter Nap by Linda Ashman, which PW described “as adorable as it gets” in a starred review. Chuck graduated from the Artez Institute of Visual Arts in 2004. Visit him on the web at chuckgroenink.com or on Twitter at @ChuckGroenink.

You Might Also Like:

Review: I Color Myself Different

Today I want to share a beautiful picture book that encourages young readers to embrace and celebrate their identity. I Color Myself Different by Colin Kaepernick and Eric Wilkerson is based on a real life-changing moment from the Super Bowl quarterback’s childhood.

Title: I Color Myself Different
Author: Colin Kaepernick
Illustrator: Eric Wilkerson
Publisher: Kaepernick Publishing
Published: April 5, 2022
Format: Picture Book

When a young Colin’s teacher asks his class to color pictures of their families, Colin dives right in. He colors his mom, dad, and siblings in one color, and himself in another. Colin is adopted, and he is the only one with brown skin in his family. When Colin shows his drawing to the class, he gets lots of questions from his classmates. He thinks back to his conversations about adoption with his family, and proudly explains to his class that he is proud of his brown skin.

This beautiful story of self-discovery and identity is sure to encourage young readers to embrace their own identities and celebrate our differences. The illustrations by Eric Wilkerson are lovely. I especially appreciated the way he captures emotion through facial expressions. HIs portraiture skill is especially relevant on a spread that shows portraits of nine different leaders who dared to be different. The back matter contains further detail about these nine heroes, as well as an author’s note from Colin Kaepernick.

I Color Myself Different is available wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Thank you so much to Kaepernick Publishing and TvS Media Group for sharing a review copy of I Color Myself Different with me. I’m honored to share Colin’s story with everyone today.

About the Author:

Colin Kaepernick is a professional NFL Super Bowl quarterback who fights oppression globally. He founded the Know Your Rights Camps to advance the liberation and well-being of Black and Brown people through education, self-empowerment, mass-mobilization, and the creation of new systems that elevate the next generation of change leaders. In 2020, he started Kaepernick Publishing to elevate a new generation of writers and creators through the development and publication of meaningful works of all genres with the focus of amplifying diverse views and voices. I Color Myself Different is his first book for children. kaepernickpublishing.com

About the Illustrator:

Eric Wilkerson is an award-winning illustrator and conceptual artist who has created many sci-fi, fantasy, and middle grade book covers. A graduate of the School of Visual Arts, he teaches illustration at CG Spectrum, while also focusing on painting people of color having out-of-this-world adventures. Eric lives in Northern Virginia and this is his first picture book. Visit his website at ericwilkersonart.com.

You Might Also Like:

Flashback Friday: What Is Love?

For this week’s Flashback Friday, I want to talk about love. Specifically, I want to talk about What Is Love? by Mac Barnett and Carson Ellis. Originally published just last year, What Is Love? feels like a modern classic. Mac Barnett’s engaging text combines perfectly with Carson Ellis’ beautiful illustrations to tell a story about finding love and finding yourself.

Title: What Is Love?
Author: Mac Barnett
Illustrator: Carson Ellis
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Published: December 28, 2021
Format: Picture Book

Our narrator tells the story of his youth, when he asked his grandmother, “What is love?” His grandmother tells him she cannot answer, and so the young boy goes out into the world hoping to find his answers. He travels the world asking everyone “What is love?”, from fishermen to poets. Of course, everyone has their own unique answer to his question. He returns home, now a grown man, to find the answer he looked for in his journey.

What Is Love? is perfect for anyone looking for a read aloud book because adults will enjoy it just as much as the little ones. You can find your copy wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Thank you so much to Chronicle books for sharing this gorgeous book with me! I can’t wait to read this one to my little one.

About the Author:

Mac Barnett is the New York Times bestselling author of over 20 books for children, including Extra Yarn and Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, both winners of a Caldecott Honor and the E.B. White Read-Aloud Award. His picture books Leo: A Ghost Story and The Skunk were named two of the Ten Best Illustrated Books of 2015 by the New York Times. He lives in Oakland. You can visit him at http://www.macbarnett.com.

About the Illustrator:

Carson Ellis is the author and illustrator of the bestselling picture books Home and Du Iz Tak? and has illustrated countless books for children. She lives on a farm in Oregon with her husband, two sons, and numerous animals.

You Might Also Like:

Review: Zahra’s Blessing

Whether you’re celebrating Ramadan or just looking to learn more about the holiday, I have a wonderful selection for you today. Zahra’s Blessing: A Ramadan Story by Shirin Shamsi and Manal Mirza is not just an introduction to the Islamic holiday, but a wonderful story of kindness, compassion, and hope.

Title: Zahra’s Blessing: A Ramadan Story
Author: Shirin Shamsi
Illustrator: Manal Mirza
Publisher: Barefoot Books
Published: March 29, 2022
Format: Picture Book

This beautiful picture book follows a young Muslim girl named Zahra as she and her family take part in Ramadan. Her family donates and volunteers at a local shelter. They also fast during the day, and break their fast with delicious food and prayers at night. Zahra prays for a sister and that she can find her lost teddy. Young readers will follow Zahra through Ramadan as she volunteers at the local shelter and makes friends with a young refugee, all the way to Eid al-Fitr (the end of Ramadan) when Zahra gets an unexpected answer to both of her prayers.

The illustrations by Manal Mirza are wonderful! The bold colors draw you in, but I especially appreciated the way patterns and designs are used on every page, creating so much beautiful detail.

The backmatter contains more detail about several topics covered, including Ramadan, fasting, Eid, displacement, shelters, and foster care, giving readers a great opportunity to learn more about the themes in this book.

Zahra’s Blessing is available to purchase wherever you normally buy books, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Thank you so much to Publisher Spotlight and Barefoot Books for sharing this beautiful book with me.

Ramadan Mubarak to all of you who are observing Ramadan! May you find the same joy and gratitude that Zahra finds in her story.

About the Author:

When Shirin Shamsi became a mother, she began writing stories her own children would see themselves in. She currently li5ves in the city of Darien, Illinois, USA, with her husband and cat. When she’s not busy writing for children, Shirin spends her days sharing her love of Barefoot Books as an independent bookseller in her community.

About the Illustrator:

Manal Mirza is a designer and illustrator based in Chicago, Illinois, USA. Manal creates her paintings digitally and draws inspiration from her experiences. Being a young Muslim American Pakistani woman, her illustrations highlight the different identities that she juggles day to day. Manal brings her own positive outlook to her work, aiming to empower women around the world.

You Might Also Like:

Review: Before the World Wakes

If you’re looking for a gentle picture book that celebrates siblings, I’ve got a wonderful selection for you today. Before the World Wakes by Estelle Laure and Paola Zakimi captures both the importance of the small moments in our lives and the powerful connection that siblings share.

Title: Before the World Wakes
Author: Estelle Laure
Illustrator: Paola Zakimi
Publisher: Two Lions
Published: April 1, 2022
Format: Picture Book

Before the World Wakes follows a pair of siblings as they share their favorite moment of the day: daybreak. The pair slip outside in the early hours of the morning where they find singing trees and snails that dance just for them. Estelle Laure’s lyrical text pairs perfectly with Paola Zakimi’s beautiful illustrations to perfectly capture the excitement and joy of waking early to greet the day.

You can find a copy of Before the World Wakes for your own early birds wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Thank you so much to Blue Slip Media and Two Lions for providing me with a review copy of this beautiful book!

About the Author:

Estelle Laure is the author of six young adult novels, including This Raging Light, Mayhem, Remember Me, and the City of Villains series, and the picture book The Perfect Pet for You, illustrated by Amy Hevron. She lives with her family in New Mexico, where you can often find her walking the dogs and watching the sun rise before the world wakes. For more about Estelle, visit http://www.estellelaure.com.

About The Illustrator:

Paola Zakimi is the illustrator of Secrets I Know by Kallie George, Teddy & Co. by Cynthia Voigt, The Christmas Tree Who Loved Trains by Annie Silvestro, and Ruby’s Sword by Jacqueline Viessid. She is also a doll maker and fine artist and lives in Argentina. Her favorite part of the early morning is listening to the buzz of the bees while the sun comes out all bright and beautiful. You can learn more about her at http://www.paolazakimi.com.

You Might Also Like: