In light of the recent racism prompted by the ‘leader’ of the US, I wanted to put together a list of books that highlighted some awesome Asian middle-grade reads. Either about Asian characters or written by Asian authors, or hopefully both. Because Anti-Asian rhetoric is never okay, and those of us who highlight children’s and young adult books need to support #ownvoices authors.
The Dragon Warrior
The Dragon Warrior by Katie Zhao is a lovely middle-grade book with magic, and humor that discusses identity and belonging. The main character Faryn Liu has trained in secret to honor her family and the gods with the hopes of becoming a warrior. But Faryn is shunned by the main organization that does that kind of work called The Jade Society. She and her brother have been shunned by the Jade Society ever since their father disappeared years ago. But something draws Faryn into the world of being a warrior and leads her on a journey that could change her life and the world.
It’s important to note the Faryn is multi-racial she is Chinese as well as Egyptian, Turkish, and Greek.
Author Katie Zhao is a Chinese #ownvoices author as well as a young adult author.
Another one of my favorite books about Chinese characters is Front Desk by Kelly Yang. Based on Yang’s experience coming to America and running a motel with her parents. Front Desk is about Mia Tang.
She’s just trying to be a typical American girl, but she’s keeping a lot of secrets, like the fact that she doesn’t live in a big house and instead lives in a motel where her parents clean the rooms and manage the motel for the cruel Mr. Yao. Her parents are also hiding immigrants in their empty motel rooms, something they’d be doomed for if Mr. Yao finds out.
Finally, Mia wants to be a writer but faces criticism from her mother who wants her to stick to math since English isn’t her first language.
Yang artfully mixes her real-life experiences with fiction to create a beautiful book. It was one of my favorites in 2018.
Kelly Yang is a Chinese immigrant, she is a winner of the 2018 Asian Pacific American Award for Literature and founder of The Kelly Yang Project (kellyyang.edu.hk), a leading writing and debating program for kids in Asia.
Peasprout Chen, Future Legend of Skate and Sword
Peasprout Chen and her little brother Cricket are the first students from the rural country of Shin to attend Pearl Famous Academy of Skate and Sword, and Peasprout Chen wants nothing more than to be a champion.
They are there to learn the art of wu liu, a beautiful combo of martial arts and figure skating.
But soon they will find themselves not only battling for top ranking at the academy but facing prejudice when the lovely Pearl buildings of the academy are vandalized.
Now Peasprout must solve a mystery to ensure peace between her home country and Pearl, all while still becoming a champion.
Author Henry Lien was born in Taiwan and currently lives in Hollywood.
We may all be worried about COVID-19, but that’s no reason to fall into prejudice, we should all be supporting each other not tearing each other down. Because Anti-Asian racism is never okay! We are the book community and we are here to lift people up!