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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Early Readers & Easy Chapter Books Featuring Asian-American Characters

in which I annoy y'all by bragging about my gal... and bore y'all by raving on and on about someone who will never even read this blog

Can I just say - yet again - how much I ADORE the Tongginator's kindergarten teacher, Ms. Confetti? The Tongginator finished reading Freckle Juice just before the winter holidays, so Ms. Confetti went on a search for a new chapter book that would match the Tongginator in both reading ability and interest. Which is kinda difficult to do. Because the Tongginator is reading on a third grade level, but has the attention span of a gnat and the interests of a typical five-year-old girly girl.

You know... jewelry, unicorns, rainbows and glitter. Useful stuff like that.

I've discovered it's fairly difficult to find decent early reader and easy chapter books as well, especially since most of the reading levels aren't accurate. Sometimes a level one reader is as difficult as a level four reader. And then there is the obscene lack of diversity, especially when compared with the wonderful world of childrens picture books. It's enough to make me pull out my hair! Thankfully, Ms. Confetti came through... in a big way!

Yes, y'all, she found an easy chapter book... with a strong female lead... set in China! Can I say yet again how much I adore this teacher? We feel so fortunate that she strives for diversity within her curriculum. We are also very blessed that she meets the Tongginator exactly where she is, on every level. (Yes, we're still working on zipping up our own pants. And bathroom independence. And a whole host of other issues. Heh.)

Ms. Confetti's dedication to my little gal spurred me to find more early reader through beginning chapter books with Asian and Asian-American characters. Although we have a large collection of picture books featuring Asian and Asian-American characters, beginning readers simply aren't as diverse. I managed to find a few on my hunt earlier this week and plan to head to the library soon. Here's my list so far (of ones we own and ones we want to check out)... I hope it helps some of you, although I did separate the chapter books by length, for the most part, rather than by reading level; however, ALL of the books are at or below a third grade level. I haven't vetted every single one, but it's a place to start, for sure.

Easiest Early Readers:
Fall Leaves by Don L. Curry
I See A Leaf by Grace Maccarone
Jeepers Creepers by Gina Clegg Erickson
Katie Did It by Becky Bring McDaniel
Lan's Plant by Sandy Riggs
Let Me Help! by Louise Vitellaro Tidd
The Loose Tooth by Anastasia Suen
Ni Hao, Kai-Lan: Tolee's Rhyme Time by Catherine Lukas
Ni Hao, Kai-Lan: Wait, HoHo, Wait! by Alison Inches
Panda Kisses by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
Tae Kwon Do! by Terry Pierce
Too Many Cats by Sindy McKay
Watch Me Make a Bird Feeder by Jack Otten
The Weather (My First Reader) by Olivia George
What's In My Pocket? by Rozanne Lanczak Williams

Other Early Readers:
A Baby Panda is Born by Kristin Ostby
Chinese New Year by David Marx
Did You See Chip? by Wong Herbert Yee
Draw Dragon Dot Eyes and Other Chinese Fables by Ellen Chin
Giant Pandas by Marcia Freeman
Good Morning China by Yong Yi
Katie Woo (the entire 17 book series) by Fran Manushkin
Kung Fu Panda: Meet the Masters by Catherine Hapka
Little Panda by Renata Liwska
Welcome to China! by Caryn Jenner

Picture Books that are Great for Early Readers:
Allison by Allen Say
Anna the Bookbinder by Andrea Cheng
Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki
Bee-Bim Bop by Linda Sue Park
Butterflies for Kiri by Cathryn Falwell
Daisy Comes Home by Jan Brett
El Chino by Allen Say
The Girl Who Wore Too Much by Margaret Read MacDonald
Grandfather Counts by Andrea Cheng
Hannah is my Name by Belle Yang
Journey Home by Lawrence McKay
Just Add One Chinese Sister: An Adoption Story by Patricia McMahon
Kids Like Me In China by Ying Ying Fry
Lin Yi's Lantern: A Moon Festival Tale by Brenda Williams
Lon Po Po: A Red Riding Hood Story From China by Ed Young
Love As Strong As Ginger by Lenore Look
Mei Mei Loves the Morning by Margaret Tsubakiyama
My Chinatown by Kam Mak
My Name is Yoon by Ezra Jack Keats
The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
The Peach Boy by Florence Sakade
A Place Where Sunflowers Grow by Amy Lee-Tai
Raymond's Perfect Present by Therese On Louie
Ruby's Wish by Shirin Yim Bridges
The Runaway Rice Cake by Ying Chang Compestine
Running Shoes by Frederick Lipp
Sam and the Lucky Money by Karen Chinn
The Seven Chinese Brothers by Margaret Mahy
So Far From the Sea by Eve Bunting
Suki's Kimono by Chieri Uegaki
The Story of Noodles by Ying Chang Compestine
Tea With Milk by Allen Say
When You Were Born in China by Sara Dorow

Shorter Beginning Chapter Books (under 50 pages):
Leaving Vietnam: The True Story of Tuan Ngo by Sarah Kilborne
Ling and Ting: Not Exactly the Same by Grace Lin
Little Sima and the Giant Bowl by Zhi Qu
Mrs. Frizzle's Adventures: Imperial China (Magic School Bus) by Joanna Cole
Sagwa, The Chinese Siamese Cat: New Year's Clean-Up by George Daugherty
Sagwa, The Chinese Siamese Cat: Princess Sheegwa by George Daugherty
Three Names of Me by Mary Cummings
Tye May and the Magic Brush by Molly Garrett Bang

Slightly Longer Beginning Chapter Books (between 50 - 100 pages):
Bird Boy by Elizabeth Starr Hill
Chang's Paper Pony by Eleanor Coerr
Day of the Dragon King (Magic Tree House) by Mary Pope Osborne
Elaine and the Flying Frog by Heidi Chang
The Emperor's Painting by Jessica Gunderson
The Jade Dragon by Jessica Gunderson
Nancy Drew Notebooks: The Chinese New Year Mystery by Carolyn Keene
Pa Lia's First Day by Michelle Edwards
Shu-Li and Tamara by Paul Li
Song Lee and the "I Hate You Note" by Suzy Kline
Stinky Stern Forever by Michelle Edwards
Stranger on the Silk Road: A Story of Ancient China by Jessica Gunderson
The Terracotta Girl: A Story of Ancient China by Jessica Gunderson
The Year of the Panda by Miriam Schlein

Chapter Books Over 100 Pages:
Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School and Other Scary Things by Lenore Look
In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord
Ruby Lu, Empress of Everything by Lenore Look
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
The Year of the Dog by Grace Lin

Do y'all have any other favorites featuring Asians or Asian-Americans among the early readers and beginning chapter books collection? Or even of picture books designed for grades one through three? I'd love to add to this list.


Buckeroomama said...

Thanks for putting together the list, TM! You are such a wonderful resource. :)

Andrea said...

We like "Grandfather Counts" by Andrea Cheng. She is a local author and spoke a few years ago to our school. The boys like the book because it teaches you to count in Chinese.
Has the Tongginator read the Magic Tree House books?

Half Gaelic, Half Garlic! said...

What an AWESOME teacher!!! She sounds like the BEST!!!

This is a great list.... I am bookmarking it for future use:)

Have a wonderful day... Stay warm!



Kim said...

TM - thank you for posting that list! I'm saving it for when M is ready.

It sounds as though Ms Confetti is a wonderful teacher.

I hope M's Kindergarten teacher is just as motivated come this fall!

Beach Mama said...

Awesome! Thank you for the list of readers! I've saved it and will start stalking our local library for copies...

Briana's Mom said...

Yawn. Ha - just kidding! ;)

Thanks for the great list! I'm bookmarking this page.

Norah said...

Oh my goodness. This list is amazing. Thank you for posting this. We have some of them, but I can't wait to check out the rest!
American Born Chinese I think is for an older age group. My son did a book talk on it this year and he's in 6th. There are some things in there that would be inappropriate for younger children.

Norah said...

I didn't post that twice. I promise! I didn't want to delete it and have you wondering what the deleted comment might have said though....hehehe

Aus said...

GREAT LIST - that's actually headed to the printer and then the library (hopefully) for the fly time to and from China!

Oh I like you.....

hugs - aus and co.

AmericanFamily said...

We have similar challenges finding good books for M that are both interesting and age appropirate. You might want to check out the accelerated reader book finder: http://www.arbookfind.com/advanced.aspx or the Scholastic book wizard: http://bookwizard.scholastic.com/tbw/homePage.do

Or, If you know her lexile scores, http://fab.lexile.com/. Enter her range and then "continue". You can then choose specific categories. After the list comes up, on the right, under "Refine your Search" you can drag the top bars to the age range you would like which weeds out books that are inappropriate content for that age group. It is really a cool function.

As for Asian books, I have some on my list for M, but I can't vouch for them yet:Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, The Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson, Yang the Third and her Impossible Family, and Half and Half. I don't know what ages or the content but I had seen them recommended somewhere.

For just general little girl fun reading, Rainbow Fairies (and other related fairies) have been a big hit at our house.

Are you on GoodReads? If so, we should link up. I am AmericanFamily. We are getting ready to begin a year-long China/Asian study before our trip next year and I will be adding the books we read there.

jen@odbt said...

I want a Miss Confetti for my girl! That is so great and thanks for the book list. Can't wait to check them out...we're working our way through Little House on the Prairie and will probably need some new reads soon.

Magi said...

You are very lucky. It sounds like Ms. Confetti is an awesome teacher. I'm a reader myself, so I love hearing about kids who love to read. Sera seems to be heading that way, and I can't wait.

Thanks for the list. I'm keeping this one.

Paula O. said...

Awesome list!!! I will definitely be checking a few selections out for my kiddos.

My daughter (almost 8 yrs) LOVES, loves The Year of the Dog and its sequel, The Year of the Rat. We've read them over and over again.

Football & Fried Rice said...

Awesome list!I have got to find some books for my 7 year old - he won't read anything that's not Spongebob or Star Wars!!

Saint Louis Family Robinson said...

Woohoo! A Book List! Love ya TM!

I recently read Grace Lin's Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, I loved it! But I'm not sure J (5 next week) is ready for me to read it to her... I'm worried about her focusing on the protagonist’s 'walkabout' without her parents as a sad and dangerous thing; she doesn't have the capacity to understand the 'adventure' of the story yet. But maybe I'm wrong...

We read A LOT of the Rainbow Fairy books (ugh, I’m tired of them) at our house and I am SO ready for her to move onto more suspenseful type of adventure stories.

Mamatini said...

Oh, I love it when you do this! Another great resource to print out! Thanks.

I second the suggestion for the Magic Treehouse books. Isa loved them, and read them voraciously. She's not much for fantasy, but loved them because she loves science and history (or as she would put it: "facts".) Then she would test me to see if I knew some factoid she had learned in the latest book. And if she taught me something new, there was no end to her proud strutting!

There is at least one on China, though I can't remember the exact title (something about a King.) She loved it because it describes the Terracotta Warriors, which are in Shaanxi, her province.

Terry P. said...

Thank you for including my book, Tae Kwon Do! on the list of books for young readers. It's a marvelous list and I'm pleased to be part of it.

Terry Pierce

Laura L. said...

She sounds like a wonderful teacher. What a blessing.
I will save this list. Thank you for sharing.

Aunt LoLo said...

SUCH a blessing to find the perfect teacher!

Mahmee said...

Geez girl! Where do you find the time to compile a list like list when I barely have time to tie my shoes?! Thanks so much for putting this together and posting it. As always...you rock!

Lauren said...

Oh I had forgotten about In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson - I LOVED that book. I also loved 1000 Paper Cranes - at least I think that's the title.

Patty O. said...

Wow, how did you find all these titles?

Gail said...

All I can say is...thank you, thank you for putting this list together TM!!! I will use it...yay!

And it sounds like the Tonginnator has a true gem for a teacher, how wonderful for you all.


She Writes said...

I go to the used book store and pick up books in Mandarin for children. Since you are reading, you may like to give this a shot!

anymommy said...

This list is incredible! You should be proud, by the way, she's amazing.

learningtogether said...

Little Pear (sorry don't know the author - but there is also a sequel). Check Amazon?

Wonderful list!

Patricia/NYC said...

What a WONDERFUL resource!! Thank you for putting this together!!

I admit, I *skimmed* the list for now, so forgive me if it's already there, but a fave in our house is "The Empty Pot" by Demi...I read it to Kiara's class & they all LOVED it!

Suzie said...

Wow - Awesome list!!!! Thank you so much. One of the best parts of this long wait is people like you! You are such a wonderful resource for so many things!

How lucky for you that Mrs. Confetti is so wonderful!

lllooorrriii said...

Little Pear is by Eleanor Frances Lattimore and just recently is back in print. The author lived in China for 16 years.

The Chinese Daughter, my favorite ever children's book about adoption from China, is by the same author.