The best books about Chinese Americans 📚

Browse the best books on Chinese Americans as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of China Boy

China Boy

By Gus Lee

Why this book?

Lee depicts the world of San Francisco through the eyes of a young Chinese-American boy, navigating the grownup world of race, class, and urban life, and trying to find the place where he fits, in between his family and ethnicity, and his modern American sensibility.  Also worth noting, Kai-Ting’s encounters with African-Americans, Chicanos and other Chinese people, in a novel that has nary a white person in it. 

From the list:

The best books that explore masculinity in some way

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

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

By Teresa Robeson, Rebecca Huang

Why this book?

A book that encompasses both the study of science and the role of women in the world, this beautiful picture book explores the life of Wu Chien Shiung, a Chinese American scientist who worked in particle and nuclear physics during a time when women weren’t encouraged to have scientific careers.

From the list:

The best children’s books about physics

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Book cover of Discriminating Sex: White Leisure and the Making of the American Oriental

Discriminating Sex: White Leisure and the Making of the American Oriental

By Amy Sueyoshi

Why this book?

You will never look at (or wear) a kimono the same way after reading Amy Sueyoshi’s ingenious investigation into the making of an American leisure culture awash in stereotypes of Japanese and Chinese sexuality. With a focus on San Francisco, Sueyoshi’s book reveals how Anglo-European Americans appropriated “Oriental” dress and design aesthetics, even as the white press and legal system displayed overt hostility toward people of Asian descent. This book is one of my very favorites among a growing body of work that centers on the making of racial identities within histories of sexuality. Sueyoshi is a superb writer, and…

From the list:

The best books that show why sex matters to US history

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Book cover of Bringing in the New Year

Bringing in the New Year

By Grace Lin

Why this book?

I love all of Grace Lin’s books – we share the same surname after all! Bringing in the New Year is another great one of hers. This board book is meant for the very young (0-3 years), but older kids will learn from it too. It describes how a Chinese family prepares for the Chinese New Year - decorating the house, making dumplings, and wearing new clothes. Celebrations follow with fireworks and lion dancers to scare away the previous year’s bad luck. The fun color illustrations will be a hit with the little ones, especially the fold-out dragon at the…

From the list:

The best children’s books about Chinese New Year

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Book cover of In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson

In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson

By Bette Bao Lord, Marc Simont

Why this book?

This novel holds a special place in my book-loving heart. When the third-grade teachers at the school where I was a librarian read it aloud and used it for Literature Circles, it was one of the first books that taught me to listen carefully to what young readers shared about theme and characters and the “heart of the story.” It’s still a gold mine for topics that are relevant today.

From the list:

The best kids’ baseball books about more than baseball

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Book cover of Watercress

Watercress

By Andrea Wang, Jason Chin

Why this book?

This tender, touching autobiographical tale recently won the Caldecott medal for most distinguished picture book of the year and a Newbery honor for most outstanding contribution to children’s literature, but it was a favorite of mine many months before it acquired its much-deserved hardware. Realistic illustrations and poetic text tell the story of a Chinese American girl’s embarrassment, heartbreak, shame, and resilience, all in the space of a day in which she learns a great deal about herself, her family, and her heritage. Straddling cultures and expectations, she opens her heart and mind to the importance of perspective and the…

From the list:

The best picture books for ages 6 to 106

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