Thanks to all of you who have donated to the GNCA 2022 Asian-Themed Book Drive for Nashville School Libraries! We have made a lot of progress toward our initial goal, but we’re not there yet. If you haven’t yet donated, you can do so at our GoFundMe page:
Below is our recommended list of books to be donated. This list was created together with our partners API Middle Tennessee, Nashville Chinese School, Metro Nashville Public Schools, and Williamson County Schools. The school systems will make the final decisions on which schools receive which books.
We see this as only the first step in a program that will eventually expand throughout Middle Tennessee. With that in mind, we welcome your feedback on the current list and suggestions for other books to include in the future!
Elementary School Level
Amy Wu and the Warm Welcome, by Kat Zhang
Amy’s class has a new student from China! Amy tries hard to make Lin feel included, but she can’t draw him out of his shell. Then she sees Lin chattering happily in Chinese with his family. The gears in her head start to turn, and a plan blossoms. Step one: invite Lin to her dumpling party…
With a little help from her grandma and a shiny new banner, can Amy give Lin the warmest welcome?
From the very beginning, there was something different about this child… An ultrasonic voice. Fantastically elastic limbs. Super-magnetic powers. But it wasn’t until the child took her first steps that she became: THE BLUR!
Nothing can stand in her way as she takes the world by storm: always on the move and darting into danger! All too soon, she is zipping through the days, and zooming over the years…
Framed as an origin story, here is a fun superhero romp for kids, filled with bold and bright illustrations, that will pull at the hearstrings of every parent.
When a young boy visits his grandfather, their lack of a common language leads to confusion, frustration, and silence. But as they sit down to draw together, something magical happens—with a shared love of art and storytelling, the two form a bond that goes beyond words.
With spare, direct text by Minh Lê and luminous illustrations by Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat, this stirring picture book about reaching across barriers will be cherished for years to come.
Eyes That Kiss in the Corners, by Joanna Ho
A young Asian girl notices that her eyes look different from her peers’. They have big, round eyes and long lashes. She realizes that her eyes are like her mother’s, her grandmother’s, and her little sister’s. They have eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea, crinkle into crescent moons, and are filled with stories of the past and hope for the future.
Drawing from the strength of these powerful women in her life, she recognizes her own beauty and discovers a path to self-love and empowerment. This powerful, poetic picture book will resonate with readers of all ages.
Grandfather’s Journey, by Allen Say
A picture book masterpiece from Caldecott medal winner Allen Say now available in paperback!
Lyrical, breathtaking, splendid—words used to describe Allen Say’s Grandfather’s Journey when it was first published. At once deeply personal yet expressing universally held emotions, this tale of one man’s love for two countries and his constant desire to be in both places captured readers’ attention and hearts. Fifteen years later, it remains as historically relevant and emotionally engaging as ever.
The House Baba Built: An Artist’s Childhood in China, by Ed Young
In Ed Young’s childhood home in Shanghai, all was not as it seemed: a rocking chair became a horse; a roof became a roller rink; an empty swimming pool became a place for riding scooters and bikes. The house his father built transformed as needed into a place to play hide-and-seek, to eat bamboo shoots, and to be safe.
For outside the home’s walls, China was at war. Soon the house held not only Ed and his four siblings but also friends, relatives, and even strangers who became family. The war grew closer, and Ed watched as planes flew overhead and frends joined the Chinese air force. But through it all, Ed’s childhood remained full of joy and imagination.
I Dream of Popo, by Livia Blackburne
From New York Times bestselling author Livia Blackburne and illustrator Julia Kuo, here is I Dream of Popo. This delicate, emotionally rich picture book celebrates a special connection that crosses time zones and oceans as Popo and her granddaughter hold each other in their hearts forever.
I dream with Popo as she rocks me in her arms.
I wave at Popo before I board my flight.
I talk to Popo from across the sea.
I tell Popo about my adventures.
When a young girl and her family emigrate from Taiwan to America, she leaves behind her beloved popo, her grandmother. She misses her popo every day, but even if their visits are fleeting, their love is ever true and strong.
My Name Is Yoon, by Helen Recorvits
Yoon’s name means “shining wisdom,” and when she writes it in Korean, it looks happy, like dancing figures. But her father tells her that she must learn to write it in English. In English, all the lines and circles stand alone, which is just how Yoon feels in the United States. Yoon isn’t sure that she wants to be YOON. At her new school, she tries out different names―maybe CAT or BIRD. Maybe CUPCAKE!
Helen Recorvits’s spare and inspiring story about a little girl finding her place in a new country is given luminous pictures filled with surprising vistas and dreamscapes by Gabi Swiatkowska.
Paper Son: The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong, Immigrant and Artist, by Julie Leung
Before he became an artist named Tyrus Wong, he was a boy named Wong Geng Yeo. He traveled across a vast ocean from China to America with only a suitcase and a few papers. Not papers for drawing–which he loved to do–but immigration papers to start a new life. Once in America, Tyrus seized every opportunity to make art, eventually enrolling at an art institute in Los Angeles. Working as a janitor at night, his mop twirled like a paintbrush in his hands. Eventually, he was given the opportunity of a lifetime–and using sparse brushstrokes and soft watercolors, Tyrus created the iconic backgrounds of Bambi.
Julie Leung and Chris Sasaki perfectly capture the beautiful life and work of a painter who came to this country with dreams and talent–and who changed the world of animation forever.
When city-girl Mei-Mei takes a vacation to see her Grandmother in a rural Dong village, she is shocked to see Grandmother’s hands are stained purple! What would make her hands turn that wild color? Grandmother tells the sing-song tale of how she painstakingly and lovingly used home-grown indigo to fashion a traditional jacket for her beloved granddaughter:
“My old hands were tired, but . . . I love you so, and I wanted to make you something special.”
Children and adults alike will be intrigued as Grandmother’s secret is revealed with bright illustrations featuring China’s ethnic Dong tribe and catchy verbal imagery that showcases an endangered Dong artform.
Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom, by Teresa Robeson
When Wu Chien Shiung was born in China 100 years ago, most girls did not attend school; no one considered them as smart as boys. But her parents felt differently. Giving her a name meaning “Courageous Hero,” they encouraged her love of learning and science. This engaging biography follows Wu Chien Shiung as she battles sexism and racism to become what Newsweek magazine called the “Queen of Physics” for her work on beta decay. Along the way, she earned the admiration of famous scientists like Enrico Fermi and Robert Oppenheimer and became the first woman hired as an instructor by Princeton University, the first woman elected President of the American Physical Society, the first scientist to have an asteroid named after her when she was still alive, and many other honors.
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, by Grace Lin
In the valley of Fruitless mountain, a young girl named Minli lives in a ramshackle hut with her parents. In the evenings, her father regales her with old folktales of the Jade Dragon and the Old Man on the Moon, who knows the answers to all of life’s questions. Inspired by these stories, Minli sets off on an extraordinary journey to find the Old Man on the Moon to ask him how she can change her family’s fortune. She encounters an assorted cast of characters and magical creatures along the way, including a dragon who accompanies her on her quest for the ultimate answer.
Grace Lin, author of the beloved Year of the Dog and Year of the Rat returns with a wondrous story of adventure, faith, and friendship. A fantasy crossed with Chinese folklore, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is a timeless story reminiscent of The Wizard of Oz and Kelly Barnhill’s The Girl Who Drank the Moon. Her beautiful illustrations, printed in full-color, accompany the text throughout. Once again, she has created a charming, engaging book for young readers.
Middle/High School Level
“A shockingly imaginative graphic novel that captures the sense of adventure and wonder that surrounds a new arrival on the shores of a shining new city. Wordless, but with perfect narrative flow, Tan gives us a story filled with cityscapes worthy of Winsor McCay.” — Jeff Smith, author of Bone
Chinatown Pretty: Fashion and Wisdom from Chinatown’s Most Stylish Seniors, by Andria Lo and Valerie Luu
Chinatown Pretty is a signature style worn by pòh pohs (grandmas) and gùng gungs (grandpas) everywhere—but it’s also a life philosophy, mixing resourcefulness, creativity, and a knack for finding joy even in difficult circumstances.
• Photos span Chinatowns in San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City, and Vancouver.
• The style is a mix of modern and vintage, high and low, handmade and store bought clothing.
• This is a celebration of Chinese American culture, active old-age, and creative style.
Chinatown Pretty shares nuggets of philosophical wisdom and personal stories about immigration and Chinese-American culture.
Inspired by the story of a Chinese immigrant who created a flying machine in 1909, Dragonwings touches on the struggles and dreams of Chinese immigrants navigating opportunity and prejudice in San Francisco.
Moon Shadow only knows two things about his father, Windrider: he lives in San Francisco and used to craft beautiful kites. One day shortly after his eighth birthday, Cousin Hand Clap arrives with a letter from Windrider asking Moon Shadow to join him in San Francisco. When Moon Rider arrives in America he learns that his father makes a living doing laundry and dreams of building a flying machine just like the Wright Brothers. But making this fantastical dream a reality proves to be no easy task, as intolerance, poverty, and even an earthquake stand in their way.
The Girl and the Ghost, by Hanna Alkaf
A Malaysian folk tale comes to life in this emotionally layered, chilling middle grade debut, perfect for fans of The Book of Boy and The Jumbies.
I am a dark spirit, the ghost announced grandly. I am your inheritance, your grandmother’s legacy. I am yours to command.
Suraya is delighted when her witch grandmother gifts her a pelesit. She names her ghostly companion Pink, and the two quickly become inseparable. But Suraya doesn’t know that pelesits have a dark side—and when Pink’s shadows threaten to consume them both, they must find enough light to survive . . . before they are both lost to the darkness.
Seven Voyages: How China’s Treasure Fleet Conquered the Sea, by Laurence Bergreen
From New York Times bestselling author Laurence Bergreen and author Sara Fray comes this immaculately researched history for young readers detailing the life of Zheng He, his complex and enduring friendship with his emperor, and the epic Seven Voyages he led that would establish China as a global power.
1405. The central coast of China. At nearly seven feet tall, Admiral Zheng He looked out at the sea before him. For the next three decades, the oceans would be his home, as he would command over 1,500 ships and thousands of sailors in seven journeys that would predate the heart of the European Age of Exploration. Over his seven epic journeys, Zheng He explored the Northern Pacific and Indian Oceans, traveling as far as the east coast of Africa, expanding Chinese power globally, warring with pirates, and capturing enemies along the way in the name of his emperor, Zhu Di. But this giant figure was not always at the helm of a ship.
They Called Us Enemy, by George Takei
A stunning graphic memoir recounting actor/author/activist George Takei’s childhood imprisoned within American concentration camps during World War II. Experience the forces that shaped an American icon — and America itself — in this gripping tale of courage, country, loyalty, and love.
In 1942, at the order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, every person of Japanese descent on the west coast was rounded up and shipped to one of ten “relocation centers,” hundreds or thousands of miles from home, where they would be held for years under armed guard.
They Called Us Enemy is George Takei’s firsthand account of those years behind barbed wire, the joys and terrors of growing up under legalized racism, his mother’s hard choices, his father’s faith in democracy, and the way those experiences planted the seeds for his astonishing future.