Asian Multicultural Children’s Books – High School (YA)

Multicultural Children’s Books for ages 13 to 18, featuring Asian or Asian American characters

Outrun the Moon
by Stacey Lee

In 1906 fifteen-year-old Mercy Wong is determined to get an education to break from the poverty in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Through a mix of cunning and bribery, she gains admittance at St. Clare’s School for Girls, where she stands strong in the face of discrimination from her wealthy white classmates. When a historic earthquake destroys Mercy’s home and school, the strong-willed teenager can’t sit by and just wait for help. She takes matters into her own hands instead. Outrun The Moon is a powerful and thought-provoking read for teenage girls.

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Girl in Translation
by Jean Kwok

Asian & Asian American Children's Books: Girl in Translation

Young Hong Kong immigrant Kimberly leads a double life: Straight A-student during the day, Chinatown sweatshop worker at night. Struggling between these two worlds, she tries to disguise the degree of her poverty, the weight of her family’s future on her shoulders, and her secret love for a factory boy. Girl in Translation is a fresh and moving story about hardship and triumph, heartbreak and love, and everything that gets lost in translation.

Maya Lin: Thinking with Her Hands
by Susan Goldman Rubin

Multicultural Children's Books About Fabulous Female Artists: Maya Lin

With well-researched text and lots of beautiful photos, Maya Lin is a fascinating and accessible biography that tells the story of the architect who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, from her struggle to stick with her vision of the memorial to the wide variety of works she has created since then.

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Up From the Sea
by Leza Lowitz

Asian & Asian American Children's Books: Up From The Sea

In March 2011 a tsunami devastates the coast of Japan. Young survivor Kai loses almost everyone and everything. When he is offered a trip to New York to meet kids affected by 9/11, Kai uses this opportunity to also look for his estranged American father. When he visits Ground Zero, Kai realizes he needs to return home and help rebuild his town. Up From The Sea is a heartbreaking yet hopeful novel-in-verse about loss, survival, and starting anew.

Tiger Girl
by May-Lee Chai

Asian & Asian American Children's Books: Tiger Girl

In this sequel to the acclaimed Dragon Chica, college student Nea Cchim is haunted by her memories of the Cambodian Killing Fields. She decides to confront the past and search for her biological father. Eventually, she finds a man wounded by survivor’s guilt and refusing to acknowledge the family’s secrets. It is up to Nea to uncover a lifetime of lies. Tiger Girl is a quietly powerful story about a young woman’s painful confrontation with her family’s past.

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood
by Marjane Satrapi

Banned for ‘graphic illustrations’, ‘offensive language’ and ‘political viewpoint’, Persepolis is a powerful and poignant account of growing up during the Islamic Revolution. In striking black-and-white comic strips, the author tells the story of her childhood in Tehran – a childhood that saw the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq.

15 Must-Read Banned/Challenged Multicultural Children’s Books

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A Girl Named Faithful Plum
by Richard Bernstein

Multicultural Children's Books About Fabulous Female Artists: A Girl Named Faithful Plum

In 1977, 11-year-old Zhongmei travelled for several days to attend the open auditions of the prestigious Beijing Dance Academy. Against all odds, the poor country girl beat out 60,000 other girls, became a famous dancer, and made her New York debut with her own dance company when she was in just her late 20s. Written by Zhongmei’s husband, A Girl Named Faithful Plum is a fascinating account of one girl’s journey from the remote farmlands of China to the world’s stages.

Wait for Me
by An Na

Korean American Mina’s life seems perfect: A straight-A student and Honor Society president, she is bound for Harvard. But on the inside, she feels that her life is a lie, aimed only at satisfying her overbearing mom who expects Mina to escape their small-town dry-cleaning store and do better for herself. With the help of her Mexican immigrant friend Ysrael, Mina tries to figure out what she really wants. Wait For Me is a heartfelt novel about loyalty, betrayal and self-discovery.

by Holly Thompson

Multicultural Children's Books about Bullying: Orchards

After a bipolar classmate commits suicide, Jewish American/Japanese Kana Goldberg feels guilty. She and her cliquey friends said some thoughtless things to the girl. Spending the summer in Japan under the critical eye of her traditional grandmother, Kana begins to process her pain and her guilt. But then news about a friend turn her world upside down again. Written in free verse, Orchards is a powerful story about coming to terms with guilt.

20 Multicultural Children’s Books about Bullying

Shine, Coconut Moon
by Neesha Meminger

Children's Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination: Shine, Coconut Moon

Indian American Samar’s mother has always kept her away from her old-fashioned family. But shortly after 9/11, her uncle shows up, wanting to reconcile and teach the teenager about her Sikh heritage. When some boys attack her uncle, shouting “Go home Osama!” Samar realizes how dangerous ignorance is. Shine, Coconut Moon is a poignant story about identity, prejudice, and difference.

37 Children’s Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination

I Am Malala
by Malala Yousafzai & Patricia McCormick

Best Multicultural Young Adult Novels: I Am Malala

From a young age, Malala stood up for what she believes. Growing up in a region of Pakistan the Taliban had taken control of, she fought for her right to education. In 2012 she survived being shot point-blank on the bus home from school. Malala is a symbol of peaceful protest and continues to speak internationally. She is the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize winner. I Am Malala is the Young Readers Edition of Malala’s bestselling memoir that makes this courageous girl’s inspiring story accessible to teenagers. Includes exclusive photos and material.

The 10 Best Multicultural Young Adult Novels of 2016

Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind
by Suzanne Fisher Staples

Children's Books set in Pakistan: Shabanu - Daughter of the Wind

Shabanu lives in the windswept Cholistan Desert of Pakistan. The second daughter in a family with no sons, she has more freedom than most Muslim girls. But everything changes when a tragic encounter with a wealthy landowner ruins her older sister’s marriage plans. Shabanu has to decide between upholding her family’s honour and following her heart. Newberry Honor book Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind is a poignant coming-of-age story of a Pakistani girl.

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30 Asian & Asian American Children’s Books for ages 0 to 18:

Asian & Asian American Children's Books

More books with Asian or Asian American characters:

Asian – Babies & Toddlers

Asian – Preschool

Asian – Elementary School

Asian – Middle School