From Unit Plan: Asian American History Teaching Guide

Books for Students

Angel Child, Dragon Child
by Michele Maria Surat
(Grades K-3)

Ur, an immigrant child from Vietnam, tries adjusting to a new life in America. A heartfelt, gentle, and realistic story.

The Red Scarf Girl
by Ji-Li Jiang
(Grades 4-8)

In 1966, when author Ji-Li Jiang was twelve, she was an outstanding student and leader. She had everything: brains, the admiration of her peers, and a bright future in China's Communist Party. As the Cultural Revolution began to pervade her life, she and her family ran into trouble, as having wealth and intelligence became dangerous. Humiliated and scorned by former friends and neighbors, they live in constant terror of arrest until, with the detention of her father, Ji-Li faced the most difficult choice of her life.

The Star Fisher
by Laurence Yep
(Grades 2-6)

When Joan Lee and her family move to West Virginia, they plan to open a laundry and start bright new lives. But the first words they hear are harsh words of discrimination. With a mixture of humor and heartfelt emotion, Joan Lee tells the astonishing story of her courageous family and of how she finds a friend who makes all the difference.

Fa Mulan
by Robert D. San Souci
(Grades Pre K-2)

This retelling of an ancient Chinese legend is the inspiring tale of a young heroine who poses as a soldier and rises to the rank of general. Vivid and sweeping illustrations portray traditional Chinese life and battle.

In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson
by Betty Bao Lord
(Grades 2-6)

Shirley Temple Wong, a young Chinese girl, immigrates to New York in 1947 and assimilates into a strange new culture of schoolyard toughs, stickball games, and the Brooklyn Dodgers. "The story is warm and pleasant, and young readers will love Shirley." - The New York Times Book Review.

The Journal Of Wong Ming-Chung
by Laurence Yep

Experience the Gold Rush's excitement and hardships along with Wong Ming-Chung, a Chinese boy who ventures across the ocean to seek fortune for his family. Though he feels alienated by the other miners, Wong chases his dreams. An award-winning author journals Wong's achievement as he discovers physical and spiritual wealth.

Lion Dancer
by Kate Waters and Madeline Slovenz-Low
(Grades Pre K-1)

On the Lunar New Year, six-year-old Ernie will perform a special dance for the first time. An intimate look at a Chinese household as the family shares a proud moment with Ernie.

Lady of Ch'iao Kuo
by Laurence Yep
(Grades 4-8)

Lady of Ch'iao, known as Princess Redbird, must serve as interpreter to the Hsien and Chinese people in order to save them both from a savage tribe. Chronicling her growth as a young woman and popular leader of her people, the princess's journal shows how she learns from her role models, discovers the power of an education, and strives for peace in her homeland.

The Journal of Ben Uchida: Citizen 13559, Mirror Lake Internment Camp, California, 1942
by Barry Denenberg
(Grades 4-8)

When the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, Ben Uchida is stripped of his identity, assigned a number, and herded into an internment camp for years. Ben's journal encourages tolerance and shows how family, friends, and even baseball can help the human spirit endure a dark period in American history.

Japan: Picture a Country Series
by Henry Pluckrose
(Grades K-3)

With no more than one picture per page and a very simple accompanying text, this book aims to give a flavor of Japan and introduces key facts and features.

Look What Came from China
by Miles Harvey
(Grades K-3)

This elementary-level book explores, in a very simple fashion, the foods, words, inventions, toys, games and sports, religion, music, and crafts that China has contributed to the world. .

Look What Came from Japan
by Miles Harvey
(Grades K-3)

This elementary-level book explores, in a very simple fashion, the foods, words, inventions, toys, games and sports, religion, music, and crafts that Japan has contributed to the world.

Further Reading Suggestions for Grades K-3

  • Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki
  • I Hate English! by Ellen Levine
  • Ming Lo Moves the Mountain by Arnold Lobel
  • Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story From China by Ed Young
  • Yoko by Rosemary Wells

Further Reading Suggestions for Grades 4-6 

  • Dragon's Gate by Laurence Yep
  • Hiroshima by Laurence Yep
  • The Moon Bridge by Marcia Savin 
  • I Am an American by Jerry Stanley  
  • Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr


Professional Resources

by Diana Granat and Stanlee Brimberg
(Grades 4-8)

Designing a Dynasty Chart, exploring China by sampan boat, and painting Scroll Landscapes are just a few of the compelling activities in this comprehensive curriculum unit. Written by teachers from the acclaimed Bank Street School for Children, this book explores Chinese history, geography, philosophy, religion, language, and art. Each chapter features background information, teaching strategies, hands-on activities, and reproducibles, including maps and primary sources.

Exploring Cultures Through Art: China and Japan
by Diana Granat
(Grades 3-5)

Help students gain a deeper understanding of these fascinating cultures with hands-on activities. Your students will love creating Noh masks, handmade paper, scroll landscape paintings, banners, puppets, and much more!

Culture Kit Japan: Activities, Projects, Map, Poster and Audiotape
by Mary Oates Johnson and Linda Scher
(Grades 1-4)

Explore the fascinating culture of Japan with this complete theme unit. Includes a colorful map, a large poster, a 64-page information activity book, and an audiocassette featuring songs, stories, even a Japanese lesson.

Culture Kit China: Activities, Projects, Poster, Audiotape, and Map
by Mary Oates Johnson and Linda Scher
(Grades 1-4)

Explore the rich culture of China with this complete theme unit. Includes a colorful map, a large poster, an audiocassette with songs and stories, and a 64-page information activity book with recipes, games, literature links, and more.

Crafts of Many Cultures: 30 Authentic Craft Projects From Around the World
by Aurelia Gomez
(Grades 1-6)

Easy-to-do art projects using readily available materials in this illustrated guide! With cultural background information and extension activities.

Read-Aloud Plays: Immigration: 5 Short Plays for the Classroom With Background Information, Writing Prompts, and Creative Activities
by Sarah J. Glasscock
(Grades 4-8)

Give students the opportunity to connect our country's history with their own lives. These fact-based plays describe Irish immigrants escaping starvation in the 1850s, Chinese immigrants arriving through Angel Island, and more. Includes background information, discussion questions, and writing prompts. Fully reproducible.