15 Children’s Books About Inspiring AAPI Trailblazers

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aapi children's books
Graphics by: Anna Wissler

The Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community is comprised of a diverse group of people from a variety of identities, cultures, ethnic groups, and countries descending from Asia and the Pacific Island region. According to the United States Census Bureau data from 2019, the AAPI population is estimated to be more than 22 million people and growing. The AAPI community has made countless contributions to art, history, science, education, music, and so much more as valuable members of our country. In fact, our current Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris, identifies as AAPI and Black. As part of AAPI Heritage Month, we honor and celebrate all people identifying as AAPI. 

As mothers, our role is to educate our children on the diverse cultures that make up the fabric of our country. The AAPI community is certainly not a monolith, which therein lies its beauty—a vibrant umbrella of people worthy of being honored year-round. If we are to teach our children about the AAPI community, we also should be aware that they have, unfortunately, faced systemic and overt racism then and now. We can ignite change by inspiring our children to be anti-racist and embrace differences. Because we know education is power and our kids are still young, reading books, and watching movies written by and consisting of AAPI characters is another impactful way to expose them to the AAPI culture.

To continue to diversify your child’s library, we have curated below our favorite children’s books about inspiring AAPI trailblazers so that together, you can celebrate the incredible contributions made by the AAPI community. 

Julie Leung

The Fearless Flights of Hazel Ying Lee

For Hazel Ying Lee, the sky was not the limit as she broke barriers to become the first Chinese American woman to fly for the U.S. military.

Julie Leung

Paper Son: The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong, Immigrant and Artist

This true story won the American Library Association’s 2021 Asian/Pacific American Award for Best Picture Book for its portrayal of Tyrus Wong, the Chinese American animator and immigrant who brought Disney’s Bambi to life.

asian americans
Phil Amara and Oliver Chin

Awesome Asian Americans: 20 Stars Who Made America Amazing

Through this inspiring anthology of Asian American groundbreakers, your children will learn about 20 AAPI individuals who have positively impacted American society by being pioneers in their respective fields.

Angel Trazo

We are Inspiring: The Stories of 32 Inspirational Asian American Women

Delve into this comprehensive book honoring 32 Asian American women, from various ethnicities, body sizes, gender identities, and cultures, who made history by being authentically who they are, all worthy of being celebrated.

Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara

Little People, BIG DREAMS: Mahatma Gandhi

Considered the father of India, Mahatma Gandhi changed the world through peaceful protests rooted in his Hindu beliefs to free India from British rule and unite all people. This empowering story exemplifies how one person can make positive changes for all.

board book version also available

Mary Nhin

Indra Nooyi: A Kid’s Book about Trusting Your Decisions

Part of the Mini Movers and Shakers series, this biography invites us to follow along Indra Nooyi’s journey as she grows in her career to ultimately become the Chief Executive Officer of PepsiCo. Through her leadership, she changed how people consume PepsiCo products and advocated for healthier options in the process.

Analiza Quiroz Wolf

Asian-Americans Who Inspire Us

Asian Americans have changed the world, and this beautifully illustrated book shares the many reasons how. It features 15 AAPI trailblazers who have broken barriers to be changemakers in making our world a better place.

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Julie Abery

Sakamoto’s Swim Club: How a Teacher Led an Unlikely Team to Victory

Discover the little-known story of Soichi Sakamoto, a local science teacher who coached the children of sugar plantation workers to become swim athletes and achieve the impossible: an Olympic gold medal win!

Teresa Robeson

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

Wu Chien Shiung, otherwise known as the Queen of Physics, broke barrier after barrier to become a famous physicist and ultimately unlock the secrets of the atom. She was also the first woman to be elected President of the American Physical Society, the first scientist to have an asteroid named after her, and the first female instructor at Princeton University!

Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara

Little People, BIG DREAMS: Kamala Harris

From the extraordinary book series Little People, BIG DREAMS comes the personal story of our Vice President Kamala Harris. This inspiring biography honors VP Harris as a leader who accomplished many firsts—she is the first Black and Asian American woman to serve as Vice President of our country.

Mary Nhin

Bruce Lee: A Kid’s Book about Pursuing Your Passions

Bruce Lee's iconic role as a martial artist and movie star was not something that happened overnight. This biography is the story of how he achieved his dreams by following his passion and never giving up.

Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara

Little People, BIG DREAMS: Mindy Kaling

Learn how comedian Mindy Kaling went from being a little girl who loved movies—and to make people laugh—to becoming a famous TV writer, actor, author, and producer.

Tina Cho

Asian American Women in Science: 15 Inspiring People You Should Know

Written for children of elementary-school age, this book serves as an alternative history book to showcase the incredible contributions these Asian American women made to the science world through perseverance, resiliency, and determination.

amazing women of the middle east
Wafa' Tarnowska

Amazing Women of the Middle East: 25 Stories from Ancient Times to Present Day

Recommended for ages 9 and up, this book celebrates amazing women of the Middle East from "the soul of Lebanon" musician Fairuz to international lawyer Amal Clooney.

Jasmine Cho

Role Models Who Look Like Me: Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders Who Made History

Author Jasmine Cho wanted to spotlight those Asian American changemakers who have made great contributions to our society but have been overlooked in traditional history books.

8 Picture Books We Love From AAPI Authors
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