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The Best East Asia Kids Books

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A Piece of Home
Written by Jeri Watts & illustrated by Hyewon Yum
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

“When Hee Jun’s family moves from Korea to West Virginia, he struggles to adjust to his new home. His eyes are not big and round like his classmates, and he can’t understand anything the teacher says, even when she speaks s-l-o-w-l-y and loudly at him. As he lies in bed at night, the sky seems smaller and darker. But little by little Hee Jun begins to learn English words and make friends on the playground. And one day he is invited to a classmate’s house, where he sees a flower he knows from his garden in Korea, “mugunghwa,” or Rose of Sharon, as his friend tells him and Hee Jun is happy to bring a shoot to his grandmother to plant a “piece of home” in their new garden.”–Provided by publisher.

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Tiny Feet Between the Mountains
Written & illustrated by Hanna Cha
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Soe-in is a tiny child in a village full of large people. She struggles with completing chores due to her size, but she never gives up. One day, when the sky grows dark and full of smoke, Soe-in volunteers to travel into the tall mountains to investigate. She’s surprised to find a spirit tiger there and learn he has swallowed the sun by mistake! To help the spirit tiger and her village, Soe-in must come up with a clever idea to solve this gigantic problem. And while she’s at it, she just may prove that the smallest people often have the biggest, bravest hearts.

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Rice from Heaven
Written by Tina Cho & illustrated by Keum Jin Song
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Rice from Heaven is a true story about compassion and bravery as a young girl and her community in South Korea help deliver rice via balloons to the starving and oppressed people in North Korea. “We reach a place where mountains become a wall. A wall so high, no one dares to climb. Beyond that wall and across the sea live children just like me, except they do not have food to eat.” Yoori lives in South Korea and doesn’t know what North Korea is like, but her father (Appa) does. Appa grew up in North Korea, where he did not have enough food to eat. Starving, he fled to South Korea in search of a better life. Yoori doesn’t know how she can help as she’s only a little “grain of rice” herself, but Appa tells her that they can secretly help the starving people by sending special balloons that carry rice over the border. Villagers glare and grumble, and children protest feeding the enemy, but Yoori doesn’t back down. She has to help. People right over the border don’t have food. No rice, and no green fields. With renewed spirit, volunteers gather in groups, fill the balloons with air, and tie the Styrofoam containers filled with rice to the tails of the balloons. With a little push, the balloons soar up and over the border, carrying rice in the darkness of the night over to North Korea.

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A Single Shard
Written by Linda Sue Park
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-12

In this Newbery Medal-winning book set in 12th century Korea, Tree-ear, a 13-year-old orphan, lives under a bridge in Ch’ulp’o, a potters’ village famed for delicate celadon ware. He has become fascinated with the potter’s craft; he wants nothing more than to watch master potter Min at work, and he dreams of making a pot of his own someday. When Min takes Tree-ear on as his helper, Tree-ear is elated — until he finds obstacles in his path: the backbreaking labor of digging and hauling clay, Min’s irascible temper, and his own ignorance. But Tree-ear is determined to prove himself — even if it means taking a long, solitary journey on foot to present Min’s work in the hope of a royal commission . . . even if it means arriving at the royal court with nothing to show but a single celadon shard.

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Disney's Mulan
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

The beauty and magnificence of Disney’s new animated film is brought to life in this large, ornate picture book with brief text and simple, yet elegantly rendered, artwork. The book tells the courageous story of Mulan.

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  • The Turtle Ship - A young Korean boy named Sun-sin designs one of the greatest battleships in history and fulfills his dream of sailing the world.

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