Browse all articles

27 Free Read-Alouds of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Picture Books

Celebrate the diversity of AANHPI experiences and voices with stories that connect us across cultures.

Parent and two children smiling and watching something on laptop

Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (AANHPI) are a vast group of communities that have unique cultures, traditions, and histories. To celebrate AANHPI heritage as a family, you can explore this great diversity through stories by and about members of these communities.

The read-aloud videos here feature characters and authors from close to 20 different cultures. These stories can help you talk with children about their own family's history and heritage. Plus, they're a great starting point for learning about experiences and cultures that kids aren't familiar with.

When you're finished, you can find even more recommendations for kids' books featuring Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander characters and experiences.

East Asian Characters and Authors

Eyes That Kiss in the Corners and Eyes That Speak to the Stars by Joanna Ho and Dung Ho

  • Lovely picture books celebrate family identity and heritage with self-love and empowerment. (Read our reviews here and here.)

Grandfather's Journey by Allen Say

  • Touching true story of immigration highlights the experience of loving and longing to be in two countries at once.

Grandpa Grumps by Katrina Moore and Xindi Yan

  • A child welcomes her grandfather on his first visit from China in this tale of love across generations and cultures.

I Am Golden by Eva Chen and Sophie Diao

  • A girl learns to love being Chinese American in this joyful tale. (Read our review.)

Lotus and Feather by Ji-li Jiang and Julie Downing

  • Story about a girl and a crane explores themes of friendship and respect for nature.

Maya and the Turtle: A Korean Fairy Tale by Soma Han and John C. Stickler

  • Korean culture and history come to life in a moral tale of a girl's love for her family.

The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi

  • A young Korean immigrant makes new friends and embraces cultural differences.

The Ugly Vegetables by Grace Lin

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Characters and Authors

Cannonball by Sacha Cotter and Josh Morgan

  • Māori child tries to do the perfect cannonball in a warm story of individuality. (Read our review.)

Ho'onani Hula Warrior by Heather Gale and Mika Song

  • Empowering true story touches on gender identity, Hawaiian culture, and self-acceptance.

Mohala Mai 'O Hau, How Hau Became Hau'ula by Robert Lono ʻIkuwā and Matthew Kāwika Ortiz

  • Mythic story teaches the importance of self-acceptance and recognizing inner beauty.

Ohana Means Family by Ilima Loomis and Kenard Pak

  • Rhyming text celebrates the land, livelihood, and culture of the Hawaiian people.

South Asian Characters and Authors

Always Anjali by Sheetal Sheth and Jessica Blank

  • Spunky 7-year-old learns to face adversity and embrace what makes her unique.

Beautifully Me by Nabela Noor and Nabi H. Ali

  • Body-positive story teaches that beauty is found in how we make other people feel and the things we do. (Read our review.)

Hair Twins by Raakhee Mirchandani and Holly Hatam

  • Warm story of Sikh hair traditions celebrates the deep bonds families can create over simple moments. (Read our review.)

Malala's Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai and Kerascoët

  • Picture book by the Nobel winner is inspiring and relatable for young kids. (Read our review.)

Tomatoes for Neela by Padma Lakshmi and Juana Martinez-Neal

  • Beautiful tale shows love of food and family along with the history of tomatoes in cultures around the world. (Read our review.)

Under My Hijab by Hena Khan and Aaliya Jaleel

  • Rhythmic story explains the wearing of hijab and reflects the richness of experience among Muslim women. (Read our review.)

Southeast Asian Characters and Authors

Cora Cooks Pancit by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore and Kristi Valiant

  • Mother and daughter share some special time in the kitchen in this sweet story about Filipino food and heritage.

A Different Pond by Bao Phi and Thi Bui

  • Tender family story of Vietnamese refugees focuses on a simple outing that speaks volumes about their lives. (Read our review.)

Drawn Together by Minh Lê and Dan Santat

  • Grandfather and grandson find common ground despite differences in language, culture, and age.

Pan de Sal Saves the Day by Norma Olizon-Chikiamco and Mark Salvatus

  • Filipino girl learns to appreciate her own unique gifts in a story about building self-confidence.

West Asian Characters and Authors

The Cat Man of Aleppo by Karim Shamsi-Basha, Irene Latham, and Yuko Shimizu

  • Moving true story of Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel celebrates mercy, love, and hope in the midst of war.

The Library Bus (read-aloud runs the first nine minutes of the video) by Bahram Rahman and Gabrielle Grimard

  • Inspiring story of mother/daughter duo and their mission to provide education to the girls of Afghanistan.

Salma the Syrian Chef by Danny Ramadan and Anna Bron

  • Newcomer Salma cooks a special meal for her mother and inspires hope.

Seven Special Somethings: A Nowruz Story by Adib Khorram and Zainab Faidhi

  • Sweet story of Persian New Year celebrates traditions, creativity, and problem-solving.
Erin Wilkey Oh

As director of content and family partnerships at Common Sense, Erin provides parents and caregivers with practical tips and strategies for managing media and tech at home, and supports teachers in strengthening partnerships with families. Prior to her work with Common Sense, Erin taught public high school students and adult English learners in Kansas City. Her time as a National Writing Project teacher consultant nurtured her passion for student digital creation and media literacy. She has bachelor's degrees in English and secondary education and a master's degree in instructional design and technology. Erin loves to knit, read, hike, and bake. But who has time for hobbies with two young kids? In her free time these days, you'll find her hanging out at playgrounds, the zoo, and the beach with her family.