May is all about Asian books! Of course, these books can and should be read throughout the year but this month gives us a great reason and chance to find more books. Especially when it comes to those tied with an Asian identity because let’s be real: the vastness and diversity of the region and its people is unmissable. Today, I wish to highlight a specific list of books. Middle grade as a demographic and category is truly bringing some of the most genuine, heartfelt stories to the shelves and seeing young brown protagonists on the cover brings so much happiness. So here I am, highlighting twelve South Asian middle grade books!
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Red, White, and Whole by Rajani LaRocca
Reha feels torn between school, where she’s the only Indian American student, and her family traditions — especially when her mother is diagnosed with leukemia.
Yusuf Azeem is Not A Hero by Saadia Faruqi
Yusuf, a young Pakistani American boy enters a robotic competition and deals with the Islamophobic and racist fallout of the 20th anniversary of 9/11 by standing up to bullies.
Force of Fire by Sayantani DasGupta
Pinki, a fire-clan rakkhoshi who wants to finally learn how to control her magical flames, gets roped into a revolutionary struggle with the serpent empire and makes a deal with the prince of snakes.
The Secret Diary of Mona Hasan by Salma Hussain
Mona learns to find her voice over the course of a year that sees her immigrating from Dubai to Canada while she pursues her ambition to be a feminist and poet.
Nura and the Immortal Palace by M.T. Khan
Nura, a young girl who has to mine mica in modern-day Pakistan to support her family, is pulled into a magical world where a hotel for jinn keeps children hostages to luxuries.
Amira & Hamza: The War to Save the Worlds by Samira Ahmed
Amira and Hamza, brother and sister, must journey to a mystical land and end a civil war to save the world when a chunk of the moon is broken and everyone around them falls under a sleep spell.
Aru Shah & The End of Time by Roshani Chokshi
Aru stretches the truth to fit in at school so when three classmates dare her to prove the museum’s Lamp of Bharata is cursed, she hopes it does give a quick light but unwittingly frees an ancient demon.
Kiki Kallira Breaks a Kingdom by Sangu Mandanna
Kiki’s anxiety has been getting out of control but drawing helps her. But then her drawings of Indian mythology spring to vivid life—including the evil god who seeks to enter the real world and destroy it.
Unsettled by Reem Faruqi
A hopeful immigration story, written as a novel in verse, of Nurah and her family moving from Pakistan to America, and the tale of finding one’s place at the age of thirteen.
Rea and the Blood of the Nectar by Payal Doshi
Rea, in the Indian city of Darjeeling, is pulled into a secret quest and an exciting adventure to find her missing twin by crossing a portal to a world of magic and evil creatures.
Born Behind Bars by Padma Venkatraman
A young boy, in the Indian city of Chennai, is unexpectedly released into a world that cares little for homeless, low caste children after spending his whole life in jail with his mom.
That Thing About Bollywood by Supriya Kelkar
Surround by sadness with her parents almost separating, an Indian American girl, Sonali, is surprised when she suddenly performs a Bollywood song-and-dance, and finds everyone around her bursting into such routines too.
which of these have you read and what is definitely going on your tbr? 💛