Alphabet Books by Asian Authors and Illustrators
Updated: Jun 16
While alphabet books are a fantastic way to introduce children to letters, I know that the standard "A is for Apple" can get a bit repetitive. That's why I've put together a list that showcases a diverse group of Asian authors and illustrators who have created alphabet books that incorporate Asian American, Chinese, Khmer, Taiwanese, Vietnamese, and other cultures and languages. These books not only teach the ABCs but also introduce children to different cultures and promote diversity and inclusion. I hope you enjoy exploring these wonderful alphabet books and discovering new cultures and languages along the way!
Jump to Book:
ABCs for the American Born Chinese
Author/Illustrator: Cathy Lu (@abcsforabcs)
ABCs for the American Born Chinese is by Cathy Lu. Cathy Lu is a software developer and self-taught artist. This book is her self-published debut and is a celebration of Chinese American culture through foods. Each letter of the alphabet is represented by foods like bok choy, ginger, persimmon, taro, and winter melon. The illustrations are beautiful works of art, very realistic and detailed.
ABCs of Cambodia
The ABCs of Cambodia introduces bits of Khmer culture for each letter of the English alphabet. Each beautifully illustrated spread includes an English word, the Khmer translation and romanization, and a short explanation. I love how many of the letters are incorporated into the illustrations. This book is a real treasure for anyone wanting to teach their children about Khmer culture. As the author says on the back cover, “where you are shouldn’t stop you from celebrating who you are”.
Adobo, Boba, Chai
Author/Illustrator: Angel Halo Chang (@angelhalochang)
As seen on Kickstarter, ABC: Adobo, Boba, Chai is an A-to-Z alphabet children's board book that celebrates Asian American values. Currently fulfilling Kickstarter preorders. General availability orders to come Spring 2023. (From author website)
A is for Asian American: An Asian Pacific Island Desi American Alphabet
Author: Virginia Loh-Hagan (@vlohhagan)
Illustrator: Tracy Nishimura Bishop (@tracybishopart)
“A is for Asian American” is an alphabet book celebrating the food, cultures, celebrations, and history of Asian Pacific Islander Desi Americans! It’s so much more than an alphabet book though. Each page his the typical “A is for…B is for…”, but it also contains a short rhyming description of each word or phrase and a much longer description or background in a side panel. I learned a lot reading through the side panel descriptions, which I think give this book a much larger audience age range than most alphabet books. The illustrations are fantastic and capture the diversity of the people and cultures in the book.
The front and back matter also contain additional materials, such as “Little-Known Milestones You Need to Know” from history, a vocabulary list, and some fun and educational activities to celebrate Filipinx American History Month (October) and Asian Pacific Islander Desi American History/Heritage Month (May).
Asian Adventures A-Z
Author: Yobe Qiu (@byyobeqiu)
Illustrator: Jade Le (@jadele.illustration)
Can you name the Asian cities, food, holidays, and others from A-Z?
Join us for a fun adventure as we journey through Asia from A-Z. Each page highlights the traditions and cultures of Asia's beautiful countries while also teaching your little ones the alphabet! (From Author Website)
Asian Adventures: Delicious Asian Foods from A-Z
Author: Yobe Qiu (@byyobeqiu)
Illustrator: Cynthia Li
If you consider yourself a food expert, this A-to-Z story is for you! Set out on an amazing alphabet journey to learn about all the best dishes on the Asian menu.
Author and educator Yobe Qiu has written this ABC book to help young readers learn important literacy skills while celebrating Asian culture and cuisine. Find a new food item for every letter of the alphabet. Each page is a new culinary adventure! (From Author Website)
Doubly Happy: ABCs for ABCs
Author / Illustrator: Anna Wong (@doublyhappy)
Doubly Happy: ABCs for ABCs is a playfully visual book, written in rhyme, of everyday objects from Chinese culture. Abacus to zongzi, the informative book appeals to all ages. It's nostalgic, affirming and above all, happy. (From Author Website)
E is for Egg Tart
Author: Jessica Lam (@eisforeggtart)
Illustrator: Nevy Liang (@nevs.art)
The book introduces words related to Asian culture from A to Z, accompanied by a beautiful illustration. Each word has a short, rhyming description, which makes the book quite fun to read out loud. Some of the words have pronunciation guides and Pinyin if applicable.
I love the mission behind the book as described on the Kickstarter campaign page. “We want this book to show children from an Asian background that, from A to Z, their culture is relevant, important, and should be celebrated. For children of all backgrounds, this book will describe many familiar words but hopefully will also evoke curiosity—and maybe a few readers will even venture to try an egg tart for the very first time.”
Em Học Tiếng Việt: A Vietnamese Alphabet Book
Author / Illustrator: Chau Nguyen Bui (@gemmas.library)
Gemma’s Library, created by Vietnamese-American mom, Chau Nguyen Bui, is home to bilingual Vietnamese-English books to help little librarians learn Vietnamese! This book introduces the Vietnamese alphabet. Each letter is accompanied by a Vietnamese word and the English translation. Like the Colors of the Rainbow, the illustrations are simple and focused with a nice color palette. All the books have a nice matte finish and feel like they would be somewhat water resistant.
Author: Cheryl Yau Chepusava (@littlepicnicpress)
Illustrator: Rebecca Hollingsworth
This fun, bowl-shaped ABC board book introduces little foodies to 26 different noodle dishes from around the world. The illustrations are mouth-watering! We were excited to see some of our favorites featured - Japchae and Naengmyeon from Korea, QQ Noodles from Taiwan, and Ramen from Japan!
R is for Rice
Authors: Susan Hsia Lew, Joanna Kong, Nithin Jilla (@risforrice)
Illustrator: Christine Diaz
R is for Rice is a rhyming ABC book filled with Asian American foods. From bibimbap, bento, and banh mi to samosa, soy sauce, and sushi, it’s a delicious journey through a diverse array of foods!
Taiwanese Eats (A Bopomofo Foodie Book)
Author: Maryann Chu (@ourlittlemando)
Illustrator: Stephany Lai
The book teaches the Bopomofo phonetic alphabet through delicious Taiwanese dishes! Each page focuses on a dish and has its name in Pinyin, Chinese characters, Zhuyin (Bopomofo), and English. Each dish is accompanied by a fun, rhyming description in English. The illustrations are so adorable, and I love the Taiwanese Black Bear that pops up in many of them! I think my favorite pages are the one where little peanut characters are jumping into tofu pudding and the one where the Taiwanese Black Bear is taking a nap wrapped up in a sesame flatbread!
By: Ashley Chang and Jeffrey Chan (@theabcdigest)
Discover the diverse, vibrant flavors of Chinatown–from A to Z.
Packed with color, fun facts, and rollicking rhymes, this book is a must for kids (and grownups!) hungry for a more flavorful take on the ABCs.
From almond cookies to bubble tea, durians, mooncakes, and wontons, what will you learn? What will you eat?
Solid gift for foodies 0 to 100.
Created with love by two ABCs, American Born Chinese, on a quest to bring more flavor and diversity to bookshelves worldwide. (From Author Website)
Do you know a fantastic book that would make a great addition to this list? I'd love to hear your recommendations! Please leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts. Thank you for helping make this list even better!