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The world seems regularly intent on reminding us of the uglier sides of humanity. In that shadow, we would like to highlight and celebrate amazing works and contributions to the world of books, so that we can all read, learn, and share in the world together. It is so important to have affirming stories such as the titles below, especially in the face of violent discrimination.

 

Representation matters. This has been known for so long, but largely ignored by those in positions of power. A recent report suggests that the entertainment industry is ignoring $10 billion a year by not creating content that is created by, and focuses on, people of colour, minority voices, and diverse backgrounds.

 

The children’s book industry has seen steady improvements in the presentation of characters over the last few years, and it is important for libraries to make sure their collections are as diverse as their patrons. With that in mind, here is a small collection of children’s and YA material that highlights Asian creators and perspectives.

 

Eyes That Kiss the Corners by Joanna Ho / a girl's long black hair blows in the wind, while she smells a flower and a butterfly floats byIn Eyes That Kiss the Corners by Joanna Ho, a little girl notices that her eyes look different than the people around her, but she has the same eyes as her mother, grandmother and sister. This is a story about how a little girl learns to love herself and celebrate her personal beauty, not the standards of others.

 

Dim Sum for Everyone by Grace Lin / a young girl holds up a plate and chopsticksDim Sum for Everyone by Grace Lin shows a Chinese American family sitting down to enjoy a traditional dim sum meal. Dumplings, cakes, buns, and tarts are all brought out together and each family member gets to choose a favorite food. The author includes a note for parents, teachers, and children who want to learn more about the origins and practice of dim sum.

 

The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi / a young girl drops slips of paper into a glass jarIn The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi, Unhei has just moved to America from Korea and is worried that the kids in her class will not be able to pronounce her name. Instead, she tells the class that she will choose a name the next week. The kids decide to help her out by filling a glass jar with potential names for her to pick from. But while Unhei practices all the names in the jar, a new friend discovers her real name and the special meaning behind it, which helps change Unhei’s feelings about herself.

 

Laxmi’s Mooch by Shelly Anand / a young girl sits with her head in her hands, smiling at a cloud of butterflies surrounding herIn Laxmi’s Mooch by Shelly Anand, Laxmi has never really noticed the tiny hairs above her lip, but one day at school her friends point out that her “whiskers” would make her the perfect cat. She then starts to notice hair all over her body. Laxmi’s parents explain that hair is not just for heads, instead it grows everywhere, regardless of gender. Laxmi’s Mooch is a positive celebration of our bodies and body hair no matter how we grow.

 

Outside, Inside by LeUyen Pham / a young girl and a black cat with their backs to us stare out a windowLeUyen Pham has a new picture book this year called Outside, Inside. This story looks at the sudden need during the global pandemic for everyone to be inside all the time. Except, as the main character discovers, some people still need to keep going outside. The book celebrates essential workers and how communities have come together to face the challenges brought on by COVID-19.

 

Count Me In by Varsha Bajaj / a collection of 15 faces of various ages, genders, and ethnicities For middle grade reading, make sure to have a copy of Count Me In by Varsha Bajaj. One afternoon Karina, her friend Chris, and her grandfather are assaulted by a strander who targets them because of their appearance. Karina’s grandfather is severely injured, so Karina and Chris decide to take matters into their own hands and do something about it. They post a few photos of the attack on social media and it quickly goes viral. Soon diverse groups of people begin to post their own photos as the community comes together to reject hate and racism.

 

Finding Junie Kim by Ellen Oh / a young girl walks through a field, while in the background slightly covered in fog is a pagodaFinding Junie Kim by Ellen Oh (the cofounder of We Need Diverse Books) is an OwnVoices story of family, hope, and survival. Junie does not want attention so she keeps her head down at school. But when racist graffiti appears at her school, Junie must decide between staying silent or speaking out. At the same time, Junie’s history teacher assigns a project and Junie decides to interview her grandparents, through which she learns about their experiences as children during the Korean War. Junie comes to admire her grandma’s fierce determination to overcome impossible odds, and her grandpa’s unwavering compassion during wartime. As the racism becomes more active at school, Junie taps into these traits and finds the courage to do what is right.

 

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang / a young Chinese boy half out of the frame of the cover, against a bright yellow field.For Young Adult collections, a new paperback edition of American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang is now available. American Born Chinese is the winner of the 2007 Michael L. Printz Award, a 2006 National Book Award Finalist for Young People's Literature, the winner of the 2007 Eisner Award for Best Graphic Album: New, an Eisner Award nominee for Best Coloring, a 2007 Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year, and a New York Times bestseller. An essential title for your bookshelves.

 

We Are Not Free by Traci Chee / four asian teens crowd around a pile of crates in front of a corrugated wallAnd finally, We Are Not Free by Traci Chee, a New York Times best-selling author, tells the story of a close-knit group of young Nisei - second-generation Japanese American citizens - whose lives are irrevocably changed by the mass U.S. incarcerations of World War II. This book is a National Book Award Finalist, Printz Honor Book Finalist, and Walter Honor Books recipient.

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, on Twitter, our YouTube Channel, and now on Issuu. We also encourage you to subscribe to the LSC Weekly Update, and we hope you check back each and every week on this site for our latest musings on the publishing world.

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