WOW Dozen: Children’s Books for Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage

By Stephanie E. Mahar, Washington State University

Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month occurs every May. The U.S. Congress officially acknowledged the history and contributions of Asian American communities in the United States in 1977. Representative Frank Horton of New York and Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii spearheaded the commemoration to be observed for the first ten days of May. The celebration was initially marked for one week but was later extended to a full month-long tribute, starting in May 1990. May also commemorates the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants to the United States in 1843. Additionally, May marks the transcontinental railroad’s completion on May 10, 1869, which Chinese immigrants primarily built. This WOW dozen contains an assortment of 12 picturebooks and middle grade books to honor and celebrate the cultures of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander people. Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Unsettled

Cover of Unsettled depicting a young girl in a light blue hijab walking towards the left on a yellow background, her hijab spilling out behind her to hold aspects of Pakastani culture suck as food, flowers, and street cars.
In Unsettled by Reem Faruqi, readers meet Nurah, who loves her life in Karachi, Pakistan. She loves her extended family, the sounds and tastes of home, and the local pool, where she and her brother Owais feel like they belong. So when her family moves to Peachtree City, Georgia in 2001 for a more stable job for her father, Nurah is not especially happy about it. She and her brother Owais, however, discover the community pool, and life in Georgia begins to show promise. They both make the swim team and work hard not only to excel in the pool, but to blend in to the local culture. But Nurah’s bright clothes, strong accent, and shy ways prove to be a hindrance to that blending in—as does September 11th and a horrific incident at the pool involving her brother. Nurah finally recognizes that she has stood on the sidelines of her own life and her family’s cultural heritage and well-being for too long. She must decide if she wants to fit in or stand out, knowing that her decision will make a difference in not only her happiness, but her sense of self. Continue reading