Asian Multicultural Children’s Books – Middle School
Multicultural Children’s Books for ages 10 to 13, featuring Asian or Asian American characters
The Great Wall of Lucy Wu
by Wendy Wan-Long Shang
Nothing goes as planned for Lucy Wu, aspiring basketball star and interior designer. The feisty Sixth Grader has to share her room with her great aunt visiting from China, a bully tries to push her out of the basketball team, and she has to attend Chinese school with the annoying know-it-all Talent Chang. The Great Wall of Lucy Wu is a funny and heartwarming story about a young girl’s frustrations and struggles, from typical middle school problems to the issue of finding her cultural identity.
Inside Out and Back Again
by Thanhha Lai
During the Vietnam War 10-year-old Hà flees the country with her mother and three older brothers. Her father has been missing in action for nine years. The family finds refuge in Alabama, but also experiences hostility and rejection. Bullied by some mean classmates, grieving for her father and missing Saigon and her friends, Hà struggles to adjust to her new life. Written in short free-verse poems, award-winning Inside Out and Back Again is a moving portrait of one girl’s resilience in the face of change, hurt and grief. Includes author interview, a family activity, discussion questions and tips on writing poetry.
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
by Grace Lin
Opening each chapter with her own colourful drawings, Lin tells the enchanting story of a poor girl who sets out to find the secret to good fortune. On her magical adventure Minli encounters danger, humor and wisdom, and befriends a dragon who cannot fly. A mixture of fantasy and Chinese folklore, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is a beautiful and timeless story about the evils of greed and the joy that comes from being thankful.
A Single Shard
by Linda Sue Park
Set in 12th century Korea, 13-year-old orphan Tree-ear lives under a bridge in a village famous for its delicate pottery. He dreams of making his own pot one day and is determined to do whatever it takes, even if that means going on a long and lonely journey to the royal court. A Single Shard is a moving story of one boy’s creativity, courage and perseverance.
With her genius IQ, 11-year-old Millie already takes college poetry classes and attends High School. Neither fitting in with her older classmates nor with her same-age peers, Millie struggles to make friends. Against her will, her concerned parents enroll her in summer volleyball and make her tutor Stanford Wang, a – in her eyes “geeky” – family friend. When Millie starts befriending volleyball teammate Emily, she hides her genius status from her. Emily feels betrayed when the truth comes out. Millicent Min, Girl Genius is a funny and heartwarming book about friendship, honesty and self-acceptance.
In Stanford Wong Flunks Big Time, companion book to Millicent Min, Girl Genius, Sixth Grader Stanford Wong is in trouble. His lack of interest in academics lands him in summer school with “the world’s biggest nerdball” Millie. He spends the summer trying to hide his summer school attendance from his basketball friends, pursuing his crush and dealing with his grandmother’s dementia. A funny and warm story about a boy’s growth as a person.
by Cynthia Kadohata
12-year-old Sumiko’s family lives on a flower farm in Southern California. When Pearl Harbor is attacked, the Japanese-American family’s lives are turned upside down. Some family members are taken to a prison camp, others sent to the Arizona desert. Missing her old life and struggling with despair, Sumiko develops a tender relationship with a Mohave boy. In lyrical prose Weedflower tells the story of a young girl’s growth, whilst sensitively taking on a difficult piece of American history.
Ninjas, Piranhas, and Galileo
by Greg Leitich Smith
Friends Elias, Shohei and Honoria are tackling their Seventh Grade science project together, …or at least trying to. All three of them have other – more pressing – issues to deal with: Elias is secretly in love with Honoria who has a crush on Shohei who is busy fending off his adoptive parent’s overly eager attempts to acquaint him with his Japanese heritage. Ninjas, Piranhas and Galileo is a witty story about friendship and honesty, featuring quirky charcaters reminiscent of the ones in Harry Potter.
American Born Chinese
by Gene Luen Yang
Award-winning American Born Chinese masterfully weaves together three plotlines: Chinese folk hero Monkey King’s efforts to be respected as a god; lonely Asian American Jin Wang’s attempts to fit in with his white classmates; and All-American Danny’s embarassment at his – purposefully stereotypical – Chinese cousin’s behaviour that forces him to change schools. This colourful graphic novel explores the subjects of identity and belonging, stereotypes and perceptions, love and friendship.