Gung Hay Fat Choy - books about China and Chinese Americans for Young Adults

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Created to distribute at Crozet's YA program to celebrate the coming of Year of the Ox, Jan. 2009. This list contains both narrative non-fiction and fiction books, all suitable or recommended for YA readers.

Contemporary Chinese or Chinese-American Teens and their Families

  • American Dragons Twenty-Five Asian American Voices, edited by Laurence Yep. Includes short stories, poems, and excerpts from plays that relate what it is like growing up Asian American.
  • April and the Dragon Lady, by Lensey Namioka. Feeling confined by the traditional family attitudes of her strong-willed, manipulative grandmother, sixteen-year-old April Chen fights for her independence.
  • Chu Ju's House, by Gloria Whelan. In order to save her baby sister, fourteen-year-old Chu Ju leaves her rural home in modern China and earns food and shelter by working on a sampan, tending silk worms, and planting rice seedlings, while wondering if she will ever see her family again.
  • Mismatch, by Lensey Namioka. Their families clash when a Japanese-American boy starts dating a Chinese-American girl.
  • American Born Chinese, Gene Luen Yang. Graphic novel which alternates three interrelated stories about the problems of young Chinese Americans trying to participate in popular culture.
  • The Secret Life of Maeve Lee Kwong, by Kirsty Murray. After her mother's death in a car crash, Maeve is sent to live with her strict Chinese grandparents, where she fights to cling to her earlier life and find her absent Irish father and her true self.
  • Seeing Emily, by Joyce Lee Wong. Relates in free verse the experiences of sixteen-year-old Emily, a gifted artist and the daughter of immigrants to the United States, as she tries to reconcile her American self with her Chinese heritage.
  • Split Image: a Story in Poems, by Mel Glenn. Everyone has an image of Laura Li, the most popular girl in school. This riveting story, told in poetry, is about what happens when one teenage girl is denied the freedom to determine her own identity.

Historical Fiction

  • Sword, by Da Chen. When Miu Miu turns fifteen in ancient China, she learns the truth about her father's violent death and discovers that she must avenge his murder before she can marry the man to whom she is betrothed.
  • The Golden Rat by Don Wulffson. When sixteen-year-old Baoliu is wrongfully accused of murdering his stepmother, his father pays someone else to die in his place, leaving Baoliu to fend for himself on the streets of 12th century China.
  • The Kite Rider, by Geraldine McCaughrean. In thirteenth-century China, after trying to save his widowed mother from a horrendous second marriage, twelve-year-old Haoyou has life-changing adventures when he takes to the sky as a circus kite rider and ends up meeting the great Mongol ruler Kublai Khan.
  • I Rode a Horse of Milk White Jade, by Diane Lee Wilson. In early fourteenth-century China, Oyuna tells her granddaughter of her girlhood in Mongolia and how love for her horse enabled her to win an important race and bring good luck to her family.
  • Ties That Bind, Ties That Break, by Lensey Namioka. Ailin's life takes a different turn when she defies the traditions of upper class Chinese society by refusing to have her feet bound.

For more information about China's history, check out Ancient China, by Tony Allan, and others in 931.

Growing up in Modern China

For more information about modern China, check out Twentieth Century China: a History in Documents, by R. Keith Schoppa - and check out others in 951 & 915.1.

Miscellaneous Chinese-American Culture

For more information about Chinese art and culture, look for Chinese cuisine in 641.5951, Chinese calligraphy and painting techniques in 751.4251, and Chinese art history in 709.51.