Celebrating Culture Through Reading- Pacific Islanders

This month is Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month! We love exposing children to new cultures through reading, so we’ve compiled a new list of books written by and about Pacific Islanders.

Coincidentally, May 4-10th is also Children’s Book Week! Why not celebrate both the Pacific Islands and children’s books at once?

How the B-52 Cockroach Learned to Fly by Lisa Matsumoto

On the island of Oahu, Kimo, a brave young cockroach, dreams of a better life for all roaches. Tired of living in the garbage, Kimo sets off on his quest to prove that roaches deserve a respected place in the insect kingdom. Lisa Matsumoto’s story and Michael Furuya’s paintings bring to life a delightful and humorous tale about the unusual habits of Hawaiis most feared household pest, the giant B-52 cockroach. This is a story to be enjoyed by children and adults alike. (Lehua Inc)

Great for Hatch readers.

The Shark King by R. Kikuo Johnson

From Hawaii comes the electrifying tale of Nanaue, who has to balance his yearning for Dad’s guidance with his desire for Mom’s nurturing. The New York Times declares this book “especially appealing to boys who long to be just like Dad.” (Toon Books)

Perfect for Nest Jr. readers.

The Girl in the Moon Circle by Sia Figiel 

The Girl in the Moon Circle, like the cover drawing, shows Samoan life through the eyes of a ten-year-old girl called Samoana. Though young, Samoana is perceptive, not much escapes her analysis. She tells us about school, church, friends, family violence, having refrigerators and television for the first time, Chunky cat food, a Made-in-Taiwan, Jesus, pay day, cricket, crushes on boys, incest, legends and many other things. Her observations offer a compelling look at Samoan society. Often fiction allows authors to tell truths that otherwise would be too painful; Sia Figiel is uninhibited. Her prose, in English and Samoan, hurtles readers toward the end of the book. Sia Figiel, herself, has mesmerized audiences around the Pacific Islands with readings from The Girl in the Moon Circle. (Institute of Pacific Studies)

Great for Nest readers.

Once Upon a Time in Aotearoa by Tina Makereti 

Once Upon a Time in Aotearoa explores a world where mythological characters and stories become part of everyday life. Old and new worlds co-exist, cultures mingle and magic happens. Familiar characters appear, but in these versions the gods live in a contemporary world and are motivated by human concerns. In this perplexing world, characters connect with each other and find ancient wisdom that carries them through.(HUIA Publishers)

Great for Soar readers.