10 kids' books by Asian Canadian authors to read right now

May is Asian Heritage Month in Canada. To celebrate, here’s a list of great books for young readers to check out.

May is Asian Heritage Month in Canada. To celebrate, here's a list of 10 Canadian books for younger readers by Asian Canadian authors to check out!

Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor by Xiran Jay Zhao

Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor is a book by Xiran Jay Zhao. (Margaret K. McElderry Books, Xiran Jay Zhao)

In the middle-grade novel Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor, a boy named Zachary Ying embarks on a mission after discovering he was born to host the spirit of the First Emperor of China. His journey takes him across China to heist magical artifacts, defeat figures from history and seal the leaking portal to the Chinese underworld before it's too late.

Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor is for ages 9 and up.

Xiran Jay Zhao is a Vancouver-based science fiction and fantasy writer who is also training to become a biochemist. They are a first generation Chinese immigrant with an interest in Chinese history, cosplay and anime. Zhao is the author of the bestselling YA fantasy book Iron Widow.

Rising Like a Storm by Tanaz Bhathena

Rising Like a Storm is a YA novel by Tanaz Bhathena. (Penguin Teen)

Rising Like a Storm is the follow-up to the YA fantasy novel Hunted by the Sky. After the death of a king and queen, a new queen emerges. But protagonist Shayla and her Sky Warriors are on the hunt — and an adventure unfolds involving magic, bounty hunters and an enchanted city.

Rising Like a Storm is for ages 14 and up.

Tanaz Bhathena is a YA author who was born in India, raised in Saudi Arabia and currently based in Ontario. She is the author of YA books such as A Girl Like That and The Beauty of the Moment.

Lizzy and the Cloud by Eric Fan and Terry Fan

Lizzy and the Cloud is a picture book by the Fan Brothers (Eric Fan, Simon & Schuster, Terry Fan)

Lizzy and the Cloud is a picture book about a girl named Lizzy and the pet cloud named Milo that she loves and cares for. But as Milo continues to grow and grow, the time is fast approaching when Lizzy has to let her pet go free. 

Lizzy and the Cloud is for ages 3 to 8.

Eric Fan and Terry Fan are brothers and frequent collaborators on children's books. Their books include The Night Gardener and Ocean Meets SkyThey also illustrated The Darkest Dark by astronaut and author Chris Hadfield.

Bharatanatyam in Ballet Shoes by Mahak Jain, illustrated by Anu Chouhan

Bharatanatyam in Ballet Shoes is a picture book by Mahak Jain, left, illustrated by Anu Chouhan. (Sarah Bodri, Annick, Ishu Klerages)

A story about navigating different cultural identities, Bharatanatyam in Ballet Shoes follows Paro, a girl who dances Bharatanatyam with her mom at home and is also excited to learn ballet. While they might be very different, Paro navigates how to appreciate and excel at both.

Bharatanatyam in Ballet Shoes is for ages 3 to 6.

Mahak Jain is a Toronto writer and author of books for young people and adults. Her picture book Maya, illustrated by Elly Mackay was a Kirkus Best Book of the Year and winner of the 2017 South Asia Book Award. Mahak lives in Toronto.

Chouhan is an illustrator from Burnaby, B.C. A trained animator and character designer, Chouhan often combines her love of Bollywood, anime and global fashion into her art. She enjoys creating art that celebrates diversity and empowerment.

Willpower by Marty Chan

Willpower is a book by Marty Chan. (Orca Book Publishers)

In the middle-grade book Willpower, a girl named Jennifer has superhuman abilities. When an accident happens and her secret is discovered, Jennifer's father is taken away by the authorities. Jennifer must figure out a way to save him before it is too late.

Willpower is for ages 9 to 12.

Marty Chan is a children's book author based in Edmonton. His other books include Kung Fu Master, Haunted Hospital, the Ehrich Weisz Chronicles and the Keepers of the Vault series.

Valhamster by Angela Misri

Brown woman with long black and grey hair and a teal earring. Illustrated book cover of two dogs, a weasel and a hamster in the dark woods.
Valhamster is a book by Angela Misri. (DCB)

The latest book in the Tails from the Apocalypse series is Valhamster. Emmy the hamster is a terrific zombie fighter and embarks on a journey to defeat the undead creatures once and for all. But when Emmy is betrayed, she sets out on a solo mission and learns the meaning of courage and friendship along the way.

Valhamster is for ages 9 to 12.

Angela Misri is a Toronto-based journalist and author of detective fiction and children's books. Her detective series, called The Portia Adams Adventures, is set in the 1930s, and her middle-grade series is called Tales from the Apocalypse. 

The Not-So-Uniform Life of Holly-Mei by Christina Matula

The Not-So-Uniform Life of Holly-Mei is a book by Christina Matula. (Inkyard Press)

The Not-So-Uniform Life of Holly-Mei is a middle-grade book about Holly-Mei Jones, a young girl from Toronto who is moving to Hong Kong when her mother gets a new job there. But moving means a new life — and leaving the old one behind. It takes determination and a positive attitude for Holly-Mei to adjust to her new world.

The Not-So-Uniform Life of Holly-Mei is for ages 8 to 12.

Christina Matula is an author raised in Ottawa. She has an MFA in creative writing from the University of Hong Kong and now lives in Finland with her husband, two children and puppy.

Wrong Side of the Court by H. N. Khan

Wrong Side of the Court is a YA novel by H.N. Khan. (Penguin Teen)

Set in Toronto's Regent Park neighbourhood, Wrong Side of the Court is a YA novel about basketball, dreams and violence. Fifteen-year-old Fawad wants to be the very first Pakistani Canadian to be drafted into the NBA. But life in his neighbourhood sometimes involves bullies and bad situations — things Fawad is trying to avoid. Fawad navigates love, dating, family life and a passion for basketball as he tries to make a better life for himself. 

Wrong Side of the Court is for ages 12 and up.

H.N. Khan is a Pakistani Canadian writer and author. Khan immigrated to Canada at age seven and grew up in the Regent Park community of Toronto. He is a recent graduate of the Humber School for Writers' correspondence program. Wrong Side of the Court is his debut book.

Chaiwala! by Priti Birla Maheshwari, illustrated by Ashley Barron

A photo composite that shows a picture of the author on the left who is a woman with long black hair wearing a black blouse tank top and a pearl necklace, the picture book's cover in the middle which has an illustration of a man pouring chai tea into a cup while a mother and daughter watch with blue and red text overlay that is the book's title and author name, and the illustrator's headshot on the right which is a woman with long brown hair and wearing a yellow cardigan over a red-dotted black tank top.
Chaiwala! is a picture book by Priti Birla Maheshwari (left), illustrated by Ashley Barron. (Owlkids)

Chaiwala! is a picture book inspired by the author's childhood visits to India. Chaiwala! is about a young girl and her mother at the train station. They are waiting in line for a hot cup of chai, and the young girl takes note of all the delicious smells and sights around her.

Chaiwala! is for ages 3 to 7.

Priti Birla Maheshwari is an Ontario-based author and educator who was born in New Delhi, India. Chaiwala! is her first picture book.

Ashley Barron is a Toronto-based artist and illustrator.

The Red Palace by June Hur

The Red Palace is a YA novel by June Hur. (Feiwel & Friends, Julie Anna Tang)

Set in Korea's royal court of the 18th century, June Hur's The Red Palace is a YA murder mystery laced with elements of romance. The novel follows Hyeon, the illegitimate daughter of a concubine, who works hard to earn a position as a nurse at the palace. When four women are suddenly killed and her mentor is accused of the crimes, Hyeon teams up with a young police inspector to find the true killer.

The Red Palace is for ages 12 and up.

June Hur is a Toronto-based writer, originally from South Korea. She's also the author of The Silence of Bones and The Forest of Stolen Girls.

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