11 Nonfiction Titles for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

From Title IX to a cure for malaria and from anime to folklore, these 11 titles showcase the rich impact that Asian American and Pacific Islanders have had on American culture. 

Book Covers from left: Our Folktales by Ruth Wan-Lan; Fall Down Seven Times, Stand Up Eight by Jen Bryant; Dragon World by Tamara Macfarlane;Two at the Top by Uma Krishnaswami

From Title IX to a cure for malaria and anime to folklore, these 11 titles showcase the rich impact that Asian American and Pacific Islanders have had on American culture. 

Fall Down Seven Times, Stand Up Eight: Patsy Takemoto Mink and the Fight for Title IX by Jen Bryant. illus. by Toshiki Nakamura. HarperCollins/Quill Tree. Jan. 2022. ISBN 9780062957221. 
Gr 2-4–Patsy Takemoto Mink was instrumental in getting the 1972 civil rights legislation Title IX law passed. This picture book biography not only tells the story of her life and how she came to believe that such a law was necessary, but also covers her legal work on Title IX. This is a good book for libraries looking to increase nonfiction books about gender and racial equality.

Tu Youyou’s Discovery: Finding a Cure for Malaria by Songju Ma Daemicke. illus. by Lin. Albert Whitman. Oct. 2021. ISBN 9780807581117. 
Gr 2-5–Scientist and researcher Tu Youyou, the first Chinese woman ever to win a Nobel Prize, is profiled in this fascinating book about the discovery of a traditional Chinese remedy to cure a deadly disease. A much-needed biography of a woman scientist and great addition to any library’s STEM collection.

The Rise (and Falls) of Jackie Chan by Kristen Mai Giang. illus. by Alina Chau. Crown. Mar. 2022. ISBN 9780593121924. 
Gr 2-4–This staid picture book biography chronicles the life of stunt man and movie star Jackie Chan. The text, covering a lot very quickly, is accompanied by watercolor illustrations in a calm palette of greens and yellows. This should find a home in many larger biography collections.

 Quick Guide to Anime and Manga by Robert M Henderson. ReferencePoint. Aug. 2021. ISBN 9781678200923. 
Gr 6 Up–This book discusses how manga, which originated in 11th-century Japan, evolved into an enormous industry that is loved all over the world. A good introduction to manga and anime, this book also contains trivia and recommendations that even the most devoted otaku will love.

When Can We Go Back to America?: Voices of Japanese American Incarceration during WWII by Susan H Kamei. S. & S. Sept. 2021. ISBN 9781481401449. 
Gr 9 Up–This is a narrative history of Japanese Americans, beginning with the bombing of Pearl Harbor, leading to Executive Order 9066, and ending with a chapter on the allyship of Japanese Americans with other marginalized communities facing government sanctioned prejudice, such as the Muslim American community after September 11th and under the Trump administration.

READ: Interview: Susan H. Kamei on “When Can We Go Back to America?

 Two at the Top: A Shared Dream of Everest by Uma Krishnaswami. illus. by Christopher Corr. Groundwood. Oct. 2021. ISBN 9781773062662. 
Gr 1-4–This vibrantly illustrated picture book is the story of Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary and the separate journeys that led to their climbing the world’s highest mountain together. Readers and teachers will appreciate the dual points of view in this modern biography as opposed to the more singular view that readers have been offered in the past. A great choice for biography sections needing fresh perspectives on historical figures.

Dragon World by Tamara Macfarlane. illus. by Alessandra Fusi. DK. Mar. 2021. ISBN 9780744027655. 
Gr 3-8–Beautifully illustrated in bold, vibrant colors, this dragon guide book will have anyone who even slightly admires dragons drooling; it is a true feast for the eyes. Divided into four sections of Asian Dragons, European Dragons, Dragons of the World, and Dragon Discoveries, the book teaches readers interesting details about many different dragons and how they came to be.

Zhang Heng and the Incredible Earthquake Detector by Randel McGee. ­illus. by author. Familius. Nov. 2021. ISBN 9781641701686. 
Gr 3-6–In scenes that recall two-dimensional forms of the ancient art of shadow puppet, this book introduces Zhang Heng, who was goaded by envious courtiers to create the first machine to tell when and where an earthquake had struck in China. A whimsical look, true in spirit, of the origins of the first seismoscope, this will have most readers longing to know more about Zhang Heng.

Fever: How Tu Youyou Adapted Traditional Chinese Medicine to Find a Cure for Malaria by Darcy Pattison. illus. by Peter Willis. Mims House. Mar. 2022. ISBN 9781629441955. 
K-Gr 3–A succinct but informative book about Tu Youyou, the Chinese medical researcher who won the Nobel Prize for her discovery of the treatment for drug-resistant malaria using extracts from sweet wormwood.

READ: 22 Stellar Reads for Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team by Christina Soontornvat. Candlewick. Oct. 2020. ISBN 9781536209457.
Gr 4-7–In 2018, 12 young soccer players and their coach were hiking through the caverns of Tham Luang Nang Non, the Cave of the Sleeping Lady, when the cave flooded and they were trapped inside for two weeks. People from all over the world worked hard to rescue them. This captivating narrative includes numerous photographs and firsthand accounts. 

Our Folktales: The All-Time Favourite Folktales of Asia by Ruth Wan-Lau, ed. World Scientific. Jan. 2021. ISBN 9789811226342.
Gr 6 Up–Wan-Lau chooses one tale each from only eight Asian countries: China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, and Singapore. Brief notes follow each. Each tale is illustrated by a different artist, in strikingly different yet consistently stunning styles. The colors are rich, the details vivid and distinctive. Often the backgrounds are flat, providing a perfect field for integrating the art. 

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