While white American culture focuses a lot on the nuclear family, in many Asian households, it’s not uncommon for three or more generations to live together. Because of this, I decided to put together this list of books that at some level explore relationships between the main characters and one or more of their grandparents. These are all middle grade titles. If you know of any YA titles, feel free to drop a comment. I’ve linked my reviews where applicable.
Millicent Min, Girl Genius by Lisa Yee – Chinese American MC
Millicent Min is a genius who is taking college classes at age twelve, and while that has its advantages, the downside is the struggle to make friends. In an effort to get her to lead a more normal life for a girl of her age, her parents sign her up for a volley ball class. Through this class, she meets and befriends Emily, but fearing that her nerdiness will be a turn-off, Millie decides to hide her genius status from Emily. In the meantime, she’s tutoring Stanford Wong, and between the two of them, they have their work cut out for them keeping secrets from Emily.
The Garden of My Imaan by Farhana Zia – Muslim Indian American MC
Aliya has a lot of problems typical for a fifth grader: she wants to fit in, she worries about being popular enough for student council, she has a crush on a cute boy who will probably never notice her, and she’s loaded with homework assignments that she’s not too excited about completing. Unfortunately, on top of that, she faces Islamophobia from people around her, even though she’s not even very strict about observing certain Islamic traditions and has never really emphasized that aspect of her identity. Then, a new girl, Marwa, arrives. She’s Muslim and Moroccan and wears the hijab, which makes her a prime target for bullying. Aliya can choose to avoid association with her, or maybe Marwa has something to teach her about being true to oneself.
Ticket to India by N.H. Senzai – Muslim Indian and Pakistani American MC
Maya flies from the U.S. to Pakistan to attend the funeral for her grandfather. There, she finds out that her family has roots in India through her grandmother, who moved to Pakistan after Partition. In order to complete her grandfather’s final rites, her grandmother wishes to seek out an old family heirloom that was left behind in India. Maya sets off for India with her grandmother and older sister to hunt for this family treasure in a race against time, but unexpected complications result in her tackling the search completely on her own.
The Turtle of Oman by Naomi Shihab Nye – Muslim Omani MC
Aref’s home is Oman, where his house and cat and friends are, where his beloved grandfather, Sidi, lives. He loves it there, and he does not want to leave it behind to move to Michigan, a place so foreign and far away for him. With Sidi’s help, however, he begins to see his upcoming journey in a new light.
Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream by Jenny Han – Korean American MC
Meet Clara Lee.
Likes: her best friends, her grandpa, her little sister (when she’s not being annoying, which is almost always), candy necklaces, and the Apple Blossom Festival.
Dislikes: her little sister (when she’s being annoying, which is almost always), her mom’s yucky fish soup, and bad dreams (even though Grandpa says they mean good luck).
After a bad dream, Clara Lee has a whole day of good luck. But when her luck changes, she upsets her friends and family. Will Clara Lee have good luck again in time to try out for the Little Miss Apple Pie pageant? (from Goodreads)