Celebrating Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month: Middle Grade!

I'm Ok

There are many wonderful things to celebrate in May.  The weather is warming up, summer vacation is getting closer every day, there’s Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day, and Dance Like a Chicken Day (recognized on May 14th, but don’t worry if you missed it  -- I’m sure a belated celebration would still be fun)!  

May is also special because it is Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month.  Even for those who do not share this heritage, it is more important than ever to recognize the wonderful contributions that Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders have made to American culture in the past, in our present, and the contributions they will make in the future.  So let’s celebrate, everyone!










American as Paneer Pie

American as Paneer Pie by Supriya Kelkar (4th - 6th gr.)


Being the only Indian American kid in her small town makes Lekha feel like she has to hide who she is at school and can only be herself and enjoy her culture when she is at home.  When a new student who shares her heritage moves in, Lekha is thrilled -- until she realizes that Avantika’s presence has shifted the social balance.  Lekha must now decide if she will continue to maintain her dual identities, and ignore the bullies and microaggressions, or if she is finally ready to use her voice and stand up for herself.




When You Trap a Tiger

 When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller (4th gr. & up)


This is a 2020 Newbery Award Winner! When her grandmother becomes too sick to be on her own, Lily, her sister, and her mother move in to help. Devastated by the decline of her beloved Halmoni’s health, Lily finds herself making an unusual bargain in an attempt to keep her family fully intact. Inspired by Korean folktales, this creative and emotional story blends magic and realism in perfect harmony.




Hello Universe

Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly  (3rd & up)


The lives of four middle schoolers intertwine when a bully plays a prank on sweet and shy Virgil Salinas, which results in him getting stuck in the bottom of a well.  With a little luck, some mystical elements, and a bit of good old fashioned friendship, everyone might get just what they need in the end.




Stand Up, Yumi Chung!

 Stand Up, Yumi Chung! by Jessica Kim (3rd - 6th gr.)


Tired of all her responsibilities and the constant push to be the perfect Korean daughter for her parents, Yumi yearns to do something for herself.  When a mixup leads to her being entered into a summer comedy class for kids, it seems like a dream come true.  Lies, even those of omission, have a tendency to come to light at the most inopportune moments, however, and Yumi wonders how long her dream summer can continue.




I'm Ok

I’m OK by Patti Kim (5th gr. & up)


When Ok’s father dies suddenly, his mother does everything she can to keep her family’s dream of American success on track.  Determined to help out, Ok attempts one money making scheme after another, but is constantly coming up short. Bullies, new friends, sorrow and grief, along with shifts in relationships, make this an emotional and gratifying story.




Inside Out and Back Again

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai (4th - 6th gr.)


Based on her own childhood experiences, Lai pens a free verse novel that imparts the tale of a 10-year-old who, along with her mother and older brothers, flees Saigon just ahead of its fall in 1975.  The long and fraught journey eventually sees them making a new home in Alabama, which will take plenty of adjustment.  At times humorous and emotional, this is a wonderful novel that should not be missed.




Best At It

 The Best At It by Maulik Pancholy (4th gr. & up)


Eager to find his purpose in life, seventh grader Rahul Kapoor attempts to follow his grandfather’s advice: Find one thing you’re really good at and become the BEST at it! Football, acting, math -- Rahul keeps trying to find his strength, but between friendship shifts, school bullies, and realizations about his sexual identity, Rahul is not sure he’ll ever figure out who he was meant to be.




Any Day with You

Any Day With You by Mae Respicio (4th - 6th gr.)


Twelve-year-old Kaia has a strong and loving connection with her beloved great grandfather, so when he tells the family that he plans to leave California and move back to his homeland in the Philippines, she is desperate to find a way to change his mind.  Maybe he’ll reconsider if she uses her movie makeup skills to win the local film competition featuring a story that highlights the Filipino folklore Tatang always shares with her?




Save Me a Seat

Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan (3rd - 6th gr.)


Ready to start a new life in the United States, intelligent and confident Ravi is dismayed to find out that fitting in is not as easy as he had hoped.  Determined to change his status, he attempts to befriend his classmate Dillon, convinced that the popular student will be a great friend to build a connection with.  Meanwhile, classmate Joe, a quiet, reserved, struggling student who seems to be Ravi’s opposite in every way, knows that being Dillon’s buddy is a very precarious position to be in.


Published by on May 27, 2021
Last Modified July 30, 2021