#stopasianhate Book Recommendations – Palette
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#stopasianhate Book Recommendations


At Palette, we truly believe in the power of the written word to both educate and transform

Good things happen when we lean into difficult conversations and make ourselves vulnerable, particularly when we’re talking about social change and human rights.

After a recent LIVE conversation between Palette Founder, Catherine Hover, and Palette Members Kim Blair and Jane Chen, we received this awesome suggested reading list from Jane. Her business, the Eyre Writing Center, works with children and young adults to improve writing and communication skills (and she inspires us every day)!

Following is a list with suggested readings that relate to #stopasianhate. Many are considered to be young adult books, but aren’t we all a little bit young at heart? A HUGE thank you to Jane and the Eyre Writing Center for these suggestions!


Asian American Book Recommendation List from the Eyre Writing Center

All of the books have been chosen for their value in expanding students’ educational understanding of important historical phenomena and growing their empathy for unfamiliar topics. Since these books do touch on racism and discrimination as well as other sensitive topics, we acknowledge that families may want to vet the books beforehand, so we have provided brief summaries and applicable content warnings from Goodreads and Common Sense Media.

  1. Girl in Translation, Jean Kwok

    1. Summary: “When Kimberly Chang and her mother emigrate from Hong Kong to Brooklyn squalor, she quickly begins a secret double life: exceptional schoolgirl during the day, Chinatown sweatshop worker in the evenings. Disguising the more difficult truths of her life like the staggering degree of her poverty, the weight of her family’s future resting on her shoulders, or her secret love for a factory boy who shares none of her talent or ambition. Kimberly learns to constantly translate not just her language but herself back and forth between the worlds she straddles. Through Kimberly’s story, author Jean Kwok, who also emigrated from Hong Kong as a young girl, brings to the page the lives of countless immigrants who are caught between the pressure to succeed in America, their duty to their family, and their own personal desires, exposing a world that we rarely hear about.” – Goodreads

    2. Content Warning: Deals with themes of racism and discrimination. Contains mild romance and two non-graphic kissing scenes at the end of the novel. Contains one scene involving intercourse: it is mentioned that clothes are removed.


  1. They Called Us Enemy, George Takei & Harmony Becker

    1. Summary: “They Called Us Enemy is a graphic memoir of actor and author George Takei‘s experience in the Japanese internment camps during World War II, written with collaborators Justin Eisinger and Steven Scotti and illustrated by Harmony Becker. It portrays the racist actions of the U.S. government and how Takei’s family responded to them. Takei would achieve worldwide recognition as Sulu on TV’s Star Trek.” – Common Sense Media

    2. Content warning: Some wartime violence, including gunshots, fistfights, and families taken from their homes at gunpoint. Rare use of “hell” and “damn.”


  1. American Born Chinese, Gene Luen Yang

    1. Summary: “Gene Luen Yang‘s American Born Chinese is the first graphic novel to be nominated for a National Book Award and the first to win the American Library Association’s Michael L. Printz Award, in addition to several other literary awards and honors. It’s easy to see why: The art, clever story lines, and thoughtful messages about tolerance and acceptance mark it as a winner. An intentionally over-the-top stereotypical Chinese character — and every protagonist’s search for acceptance — make this a better fit for teen readers who have the sophistication to understand the author’s intent.” – Common Sense Media

    2. Content Warning: Some sexual innuendo, potty humor, fighting, and a fairly graphic scene in which a monk is impaled on a spear and put on a spit over a fire, though he’s rescued.


  1. Boxers & Saints, Gene Luen Yang

    1. Summary: “Boxers & Saints is a set of two graphic novels by Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese), the first graphic novelist to be a finalist for the National Book Award and the first to win the American Library Association’s Michael L. Printz Award, among other literary awards and honors. These graphic novels depict China’s Boxer Rebellion from the viewpoints of two teen protagonists. Boxers follows Little Bao, who learns kung-fu fighting techniques and gradually gathers an army of peasants who rebel against foreign missionaries and solidiers. In Saints, a young outcast named Four-Girl, later to become Vibiana, embraces what she thinks of as deviltry but then converts to Christianity. Both characters struggle to do what’s right, but their beliefs put them in direct opposition.” – Common Sense Media

    2. Content Warning: “Violence plays a major role in the books’ most important scenes: everything from fistfights, shootings, stabbings, sword fights, and a decapitation to setting fire to a church filled with women and children. Author-illustrator Yang often portrays the violence obliquely or uses a cartoony style that softens the impact of bloody scenes.” – Common Sense Media


  1. Kira-Kira, Cynthia Kadohata

    1. Summary: “kira-kira (kee ra kee ra): glittering; shining Glittering. That’s how Katie Takeshima’s sister, Lynn, makes everything seem. The sky is kira-kira because its color is deep but see-through at the same time. The sea is kira-kira for the same reason and so are people’s eyes. When Katie and her family move from a Japanese community in Iowa to the Deep South of Georgia, it’s Lynn who explains to her why people stop on the street to stare, and it’s Lynn who, with her special way of viewing the world, teaches Katie to look beyond tomorrow, but when Lynn becomes desperately ill, and the whole family begins to fall apart, it is up to Katie to find a way to remind them all that there is always something glittering — kira-kira — in the future.” – Goodreads

    2. Content warning: one instance of violence/mutilation (a character’s ankle is caught in an animal trap), tobacco use, one instance of swearing.


  1. Pashmina, Nidhi Chanani

    1. Summary: “At the start of PASHMINA, Priyanka Das is at odds with her overprotective mother, who refuses to tell her daughter why and how she left India years ago. One night, Pri finds a mysterious chest that contains a magical scarf, one that carries her away to a colorful fantasy version of her mother’s birthplace. When Pri wins a cartooning contest, she uses the prize money to buy plane tickets to India, where she meets her aunt and begins to understand more about herself and what it means to be Indian American.” – Common Sense Media

    2. Content Warning: One instant of violence, a riot at a factory.


  1. A Time to Dance, Padma Venkatraman

    1. Summary: “Veda, a classical dance prodigy in India, lives and breathes dance—so when an accident leaves her a below-knee amputee, her dreams are shattered. For a girl who’s grown used to receiving applause for her dance prowess and flexibility, adjusting to a prosthetic leg is painful and humbling. But Veda refuses to let her disability rob her of her dreams, and she starts all over again, taking beginner classes with the youngest dancers. Then Veda meets Govinda, a young man who approaches dance as a spiritual pursuit. As their relationship deepens, Veda reconnects with the world around her, and begins to discover who she is and what dance truly means to her.” – Goodreads

    2. Content Warning: loss of a limb, teen romance.


  1. Amal Unbound, Aisha Saeed

    1. Summary: “Amal Unbound is the story of a feisty poetry loving 12-year-old girl who lives in rural Pakistan with her family. When her mother becomes depressed after giving birth to a daughter instead of a son, Amal’s father decides she should leave school to care for her younger sisters and the new baby. This is a hard blow for Amal, but she never gives up on her plans to go onto college and become a teacher. Then, in an instant, it looks like her dreams for her future are truly over. Amal dares to talk back to the son of a powerful local landlord and he retaliates by calling in the debt her father owes his family. When her father can’t raise the money, Amal is sent to work as a servant in his home until the debt can be repaid. Told simply but powerfully in Amal’s voice, the story puts a relatable face on the practice of indentured servitude, the often devalued place girls have in many cultures, and the power of education to change their lives.” – Common Sense Media

    2. Content warning: slavery, violence, mention of murder.


  1. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, Grace Lin

    1. Summary: “In the valley of Fruitless Mountain, a young girl named Minli spends her days working hard in the fields and her nights listening to her father spin fantastic tales about the Jade Dragon and the Old Man of the Moon. Minli’s mother, tired of their poor life, chides him for filling her head with nonsense. But Minli believes these enchanting stories and embarks on an extraordinary journey to find the Old Man of the Moon and ask him how her family can change their fortune. She encounters an assorted cast of characters and magical creatures along the way, including a dragon who accompanies her on her quest.” – Goodreads

Content warning: N/A