One thing I miss about working in a school library is the opportunity to make displays of books for different themes, weeks and months. Children’s book week is in May this year! I remember it being in November but since it’s earlier this year it overlaps with Asian Pacific American History month. Below I’ve outlined a few picture books that speak to Asian American experiences that younger readers (or adults) will enjoy. I will be following up in the rest of the month with some chapter books for older readers as well as some adult books.
I found these two books at the LA Times Festival of Books. I loved the pictures, Sam and his friends seem to be having such a great time. I was surprised at how many words Romulo was able to fit on a page. My husband is first generation Filipino-American and can read Tagalog (ie. make the correct sounds) but he does not speak it very well. He helped me pronounce most of the words and learned that some of the words he thought he knew were wrong. For example, our niece (who is also his goddaughter) refers to him as “ninong” which, as we found out from Filipino Celebrations means “godfather” rather than “uncle” as he thought. He also finally learned that a “kalabaw” is a water buffalo, not a cow. We’ve loaned these books to my sister-in-law for my niece and nephew and I’ll take them back when they’re a little older. These seem like a great introduction to Filipino words for readers of all ages who want to learn a more about Filipino customs.
Henry’s first moon birthday by Lenore Look
In Look’s book Jenny helps her grandmother prepare for her brother Henry’s first moon birthday, complete with ginger and red eggs.
I have only been to one first moon birthday, for my friends’ son. When you are celebrating a girl you take an even number of eggs for luck and an odd number for a boy. I did not realize that I would be bringing eggs home and had hard-boiled a number of eggs a day before for use at home. It was a very strange way to have an abundance of hard-boiled eggs!
The name jar by Yangsook Choi
Unhei just moved to the US from Korea and is having trouble adjusting to a school where no one can pronounce her name. So she enlists her classmates to help her choose an American name by choosing a name from a jar. Imagine her surprise when she chooses a slip of paper with her own name on it!
I could relate to Unhei’s trial of a difficult name. Although Mary-Michelle isn’t hard to pronounce people keep trying to shorten it to Mary without checking with me first. I love my name and would not change it but unusual names can be difficult!