Heartwarming Intergenerational Stories by Asian Authors and Illustrators
In this blog post I'll be featuring a collection of heartwarming intergenerational children's picture books by Asian authors and illustrators. This list will introduce you to a delightful selection of books that capture the profound connections between generations. These captivating tales, written and/or illustrated by talented Asian artists, celebrate love, familial bonds, and the rich cultural heritage that Asian communities bring to the literary world. Join me as we explore these enchanting books that bridge gaps, tug at heart strings, and inspire readers of all ages.
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A Gift for Popo
Author: Katrina Liu (@minalearnschinese)
Illustrator: Heru Setiawan (@_hrstwn)
This beautifully illustrated children's book celebrates Asian-Americans and all the grandmas out there. This story is about a little boy named Miles and his special bond with his Popo (grandma). It features a heart-warming everyday story about a Chinese-American family and includes several Chinese cultural references. Bilingual editions in Simplified and Traditional Chinese are available. (Description from Amazon)
A Morning with Grandpa
Author: Syliva Liu (@sylliu)
Illustrator: Christina Forshay (@christina_barragan_forshay)
Mei Mei's grandpa is practicing tai chi in the garden, and Mei Mei is eager to join in. As Gong Gong tries to teach her the slow, graceful movements, Mei Mei enthusiastically does them with her own flair. Then Mei Mei takes a turn, trying to teach Gong Gong the yoga positions she learned in school. Will Gong Gong be able to master the stretchy, bendy poses?
Winner of Lee & Low's New Voices Award, A Morning with Grandpa celebrates, with lively spirit and humor, the special bond between grandparent and grandchild and the joy of learning new things together. Readers of all ages will want to try some tai chi and yoga too! (Description from Amazon)
Dancing the Tinikling
Author: Bobbie Peyton (@bobbie.peyton)
Illustrator: Diobelle Cerna
"Jojo, come dance!" Lola calls, inviting him to leap between the clapping and slapping bamboo poles and dance the tinikling with her. Whirling, twirling, and singing in Tagalog, Jojo tries but trips. Lola dances between the two poles easily, the same way she dances between their American and Filipino cultures--Jojo knows that dance! And finally, spinning and hopping to the rhythm of his life, he's dancing the tinikling! (Description from Amazon)
Author: Soyung Pak (@soyung_pak)
Illustrator: Altheya Pulvera
Juno's grandmother writes in Korean and Juno writes in drawings, but that doesn't mean they can't exchange letters. From the photo his grandmother sends him, Juno can tell that she has a new cat. From the picture he makes for her, Juno's grandmother can tell that he wants her to come for a visit. So she sends Juno a miniature plane, to let him know she's on the way. This tender tale won the author an Ezra Jack Keats award, and is a perfect introduction to the concept of foreign cultures and far-off lands. (Description from Amazon)
Author: Minh Le (@bottomshelfbks)
Illustrator: Dan Santat (@dsantat)
When a young boy visits his grandfather, their lack of a common language leads to confusion, frustration, and silence. But as they sit down to draw together, something magical happens—with a shared love of art and storytelling, the two form a bond that goes beyond words. (Description from Amazon)
Grandpa Across the Ocean
Author/Illustrator: Hyewon Yum (@yumhyewon)
Grandpa lives on the other side of the ocean.
He takes naps all the time. He eats different foods. He speaks an unfamiliar language. His house is the most boring place on Earth!
Or is it? A little time together just might reveal that Grandpa is also a great singer, an energetic sandcastle builder, and a troublemaker . . . just like his grandson!
With her signature warmth and humor, award-winning author-illustrator Hyewon Yum shares the challenges and joys of having a relative who lives far away—proving that even from across the ocean, the grandparent-grandchild relationship is a very special one. (Description from Amazon)
Author: Katrina Moore (@katrinamoore1011)
Illustrator: Xindi Yan (@xindiyanart)
Daisy's Yeh-Yeh is visiting for the first time from China, and Daisy is so excited to meet him! She has big plans for all the fun they'll have together, like tea parties and snow angels, but when Yeh-Yeh arrives, Daisy finds him less jolly than she imagined. Throughout the week, she tries all sorts of things to get him past his grumpiness. Will she be able to make him smile before he goes home?
Kids will love this funny and heartwarming story about overcoming cultural differences and connecting across generations! (Description from Amazon)
Illustrator: Kim Dong Hoon
Lily lives in Washington, DC. Her grandpa lives in Korea. They've never met but are good pen pals. Just when he is about to visit Lily in the U.S., Grandpa dies. Lily and her mom fly to Korea, where they uncover the rice paper scroll Grandpa had hoped to finish painting with Lily. To honor his wish, Lily writes a poem about her grandfather that sits just below his poem about her, so that in the end, they have finished it together. (Description from Amazon)
Author: Sophia N. Lee (@sophianleewrites)
Illustrator: Isabel Roxas (@studioroxas)
There is always singing in Lola’s house. Sammy Davis Jr. in the morning, Dean Martin in the afternoon, and all throughout the evening, old Tagalog love songs from Nora Aunor, Basil Valdez, and more. Lola always says: “If you want to hold on, you gotta sing your songs.”
Her granddaughter tucks these sounds and Lola’s wisdom deep within her heart. And when Lola starts slipping into silence and stillness, she helps Lola hold on, piece by piece, with the joy and music that Lola taught her. (Description from Amazon)
How We Say I Love You
Author: Nicole Chen (@ncheny)
Illustrator: Lenny Wu
How do you tell your family that you love them? For Hana, love is all around her: Mom stirs love into a steaming pot of xifan. Dad cheers with love at her soccer game. Hana says good night with love by rubbing her grandma's feet and pouring her grandpa his sleepy tea. And as the light fades, Hana's parents tuck her into bed and give her a good night kiss.
So many families express their love in all they do for one another, every day. Here is a book that wraps you in a hug and invites your family to share their own special ways of showing love. (Description from Amazon)
Hundred Years of Happiness
Author: Thanhhà Lai (@thanhha_lai)
Illustrator: Nguyen Quang & Kim Lien (@kaaillustration)
An’s grandmother Bà sometimes gets trapped in her cloudy memories. An and her grandfather, Ông, come up with a plan to bring her back to a happy moment: they grow gấc fruits so they can make xôi gấc, Bà’s favorite dish from her wedding in Việt Nam many years ago.
An and Ông work together in the garden, nurturing the gấc seeds. They must be patient and wait for the seeds to grow, flower, and turn into fruit. When the xôi gấc is finally ready, An is hopeful that her grandmother will remember her wedding wish with Ông: hundred years of happiness.
Striking and vivid illustrations bring this tender story of a loving, intergenerational Vietnamese family to life. (Description from Amazon)
I Dream of Popo
Author: Livia Blackburne (@lkblackburne)
Illustrator: Julia Kuo (@juliaskuo)
This delicate, emotionally rich picture book celebrates a special connection that crosses time zones and oceans as Popo and her granddaughter hold each other in their hearts forever.
When a young girl and her family emigrate from Taiwan to America, she leaves behind her beloved popo, her grandmother. She misses her popo every day, but even if their visits are fleeting, their love is ever true and strong. (Description from Amazon)
I Love My Grandpa
Author: Katrina Liu (@minalearnschinese)
Illustrator: Rosalia Destarisa (@pink.licorice)
Mina has a brilliant idea for her puppy, but she can't do it alone! She spends a fun-filled day with her grandpa, creating, building and developing their special bond. Join Mina and Gong Gong (grandpa) as they team up to bring her idea to life! This book showcases everyday dialog to support your child in Chinese learning. Written for children ages 2 to 6, this sweet story with vibrant illustrations is easy to follow. Available in Mandarin with Simplified or Traditional Characters and Cantonese editions. Your little one will learn common conversational sentences in Chinese as well as new vocabulary. (Description from Amazon)
Lolo's Sari-Sari Store
Author: Sophia N. Lee (@sophianleewrites)
Illustrator: Christine Almeda (@eychristine)
For one girl, summers used to mean helping Lolo run his sari-sari store, which was always brimming with goods for the neighborhood: shampoo packets for Ate Jane, rice and eggs for Tonton, and a sympathetic ear for anyone who needed it. “Sari-sari means a good variety—just look around and you’ll see. What help can you give your community?” Lolo would say, as he filled his shelves with what people would need.
Now that she’s far from the Philippines, she misses Lolo and the friendly faces that surrounded his sari-sari store. But when she remembers her grandfather’s words, her heart keeps Lolo close, and she starts to see opportunities for connection and community in her new home. (Description from Amazon)
Love Makes a Garden Grow
Author/Illustrator: Taeeun Yoo (@yooillustration)
A young girl observes the bugs and blooms and the rich smell of the soil of her grandfather’s garden. Her grandfather hums as he waters his treasured plants. And when he gives the girl a flower of her own, caring for it teaches her to feel her grandfather’s love.
Even as time passes and her grandfather’s garden grows smaller and the girl grows up, she never forgets what she learned or loses her closeness with her nurturing grandfather.
Inspired by the author-illustrator’s own family, this beautiful and personal story celebrates the love that binds families and makes us who we are. (Description from Amazon)
My Day with Gong Gong
Author: Sennah Yee (@sennahaha)
Illustrator: Elaine Chen (@tiny.clovers)
May isn't having fun on her trip through Chinatown with her grandfather. Gong Gong doesn't speak much English, and May can't understand Chinese. She's hungry, and bored with Gong Gong's errands. Plus, it seems like Gong Gong's friends are making fun of her! But just when May can’t take any more, Gong Gong surprises her with a gift that reveals he’s been paying more attention than she thought.
With lighthearted, expressive illustrations by Elaine Chen, this charming debut expertly captures life in the city and shows how small, shared moments of patience and care—and a dumpling or two—can help a child and grandparent bridge the generational and cultural gaps between them.
A glossary at the end of the book features translations of the Chinese words from the story into Chinese characters and English. (Description from Amazon)
Author/Illustrator: Gee-eun Lee (@lee_gee_eun)
Translator: Sophie Bowman
Gee-eun is a little girl whose parents work a lot. So she spends her days with her beloved grandmother. Grandma comforts Gee-eun when she’s sad to see her parents leaving and shares in all of Gee-eun’s daily joys and problems. She even fills in for Gee-eun’s mom at the family sports day, though things don’t quite go as planned…But one thing is for sure: Grandma and Gee-eun always have an unforgettable time until the end of the day, when the whole family can come together for a meal made by Grandma. Based on the author’s relationship with her own grandmother, this is a heart-warming celebration of a most unique and precious guardian: the GrandMom. (Description from Amazon)
Author: Chieri Uegaki
Illustrator: Genevieve Simms
When Mayumi was born, her grandfather created a garden for her. It was unlike any other garden she knew. It had no flowers or vegetables. Instead, Ojiichan made it out of stones: “big ones, little ones and ones in-between.” Every summer, Mayumi visits her grandfather in Japan, and they tend the garden together. Raking the gravel is her favorite part. Afterward, the two of them sit on a bench and enjoy the results of their efforts in happy silence. But then one summer, everything changes. Ojiichan has grown too old to care for his home and the garden. He has to move. Will Mayumi find a way to keep the memory of the garden alive for both of them? (Description from Amazon)
Author: Juck Lee
Translators: Asuka Minamoto and Dianne Chung
Illustrator: Seung-youn Kim (@textcontext)
Occupying two dimensions—one that is tangible and heart-wrenching in its details of traces left behind, and another that is cosmic, created by the boy's imagination as he longs for a reunion—One Day explores the inner world of a child as he comes to terms with a deeply felt and aching loss.
A boy’s grandfather goes away suddenly, never to return. How could he leave just like that, without even saying goodbye? His smell remains in his sweater, and his shoes wait to be worn, but he is nowhere to be found. As the boy looks and wonders, a refrain runs through his mind, Grandpa is gone. The boy lingers in the midst of his grandfather’s things, to feel him and remember, but also as a way of beginning to say goodbye. There in the quiet, the boy begins to imagine his Grandfather returning to the planets and stars, the faraway home from which he must have come. (Description from Amazon)
Our Favorite Day
Author/Illustrator: Joowon Oh (@joowonohillustration)
Every morning Papa follows his normal routine. He drinks his tea, waters his plants, tidies up, and takes the bus into town. Papa enjoys his daily tasks, but there’s one day each week that is extra special. That’s the day he might visit the craft store, get two orders of dumplings to go, and possibly pick some flowers he sees along the path. With its spare text and wonderfully warm watercolor and cut-paper illustrations just begging to be pored over, Joowon Oh’s tale of the singular love between a grandfather and granddaughter will nestle within the heart of every reader. (Description from Amazon)
Author/Illustrator: Lynnor Bontigao (@lbontigao)
Nora loves spending summers with Lola at her sari-sari store, a treasure trove filled with everything you could need, from hair accessories to toys, creamy yema to sour tamarind candy. And this year, Nora is big enough to help her grandmother. But when a heat wave strikes and no one comes to the store, Nora worries that she won’t get to spend the rest of the summer with her lola—until she gets a sweet idea. After all, the mangoes on the tree outside are finally ripe, and with a bit of measuring, mixing, and a good deal of tasting, Nora and Lola have a refreshing way to bring people together—and to the sari-sari store. With soft, heartfelt illustrations, Lynnor Bontigao’s endearing picture book—featuring a recipe for making mango ice candy like Nora’s—is an ode to ingenuity and to intergenerational relationships that’s as sweet and gentle as a kiss on the cheek. (Description from Amazon)
Sora's Seashells: A Name Is a Gift to be Treasured
Author: Helena Ku Rhee (@helenakurhee)
Every summer, when Sora’s Halmoni, or grandmother, visits from South Korea, the two of them take the bus to the beach to search for seashells. While Sora likes to take all of them back with her, Halmoni always leaves the prettiest shell for someone else to find and treasure. As summer turns to fall, Halmoni returns home and Sora starts kindergarten, where some of the kids tease her about her “weird” name. One day, Sora’s parents receive a sad call about her grandmother, and Sora feels more lost than ever about who she is and how she fits in. But when her parents reveal the origin of her name, Sora channels a newfound pride and, inspired by Halmoni, combats her peers’ hurtful comments by sharing her shells with everyone in her class. This story, told by Helena Ku Rhee and illustrated by Stella Lim, based on art by Ji-Hyuk Kim, speaks to the prevailing power of kindness and will resonate with anyone who’s been made to feel different. (Description from Amazon)
The Big Bath House
Author: Kyo Maclear (@kyomaclear)
Illustrator: Gracey Zhang (@graceyyz)
In this celebration of Japanese culture and family and naked bodies of all shapes and sizes, join a little girl--along with her aunties and grandmother--at a traditional bath house. Once there, the rituals leading up to the baths begin: hair washing, back scrubbing, and, finally, the wood barrel drumroll. Until, at last, it's time, and they ease their bodies--their creased bodies, newly sprouting bodies, saggy, jiggly bodies--into the bath. Ahhhhhh!
With a lyrical text and gorgeous illustrations, this picture book is based on Kyo Maclear's loving memories of childhood visits to Japan, and is an ode to the ties that bind generations of women together. (Description from Amazon)
The Most Beautiful Thing
Author: Kao Kalia Yang (@kaokaliayang)
Illustrator: Khoa Le (@khoa.le.artwork)
Drawn from author Kao Kalia Yang's childhood experiences as a Hmong refugee, this moving picture book portrays a family with a great deal of love and little money. Weaving together Kalia's story with that of her beloved grandmother, the book moves from the jungles of Laos to the family's early years in the United States.
When Kalia becomes unhappy about having to do without and decides she wants braces to improve her smile, it is her grandmother―a woman who has just one tooth in her mouth―who helps her see that true beauty is found with those we love most. Stunning illustrations from Vietnamese illustrator Khoa Le bring this intergenerational tale to life. (Description from Amazon)
The Ocean Calls: A Haenyeo Mermaid Story
Author: Tina Cho (@tinamcho)
Illustrator: Jess X. Snow (@jessxsnow)
Dayeon wants to be a haenyeo just like Grandma. The haenyeo dive off the coast of Jeju Island to pluck treasures from the sea--generations of Korean women have done so for centuries. To Dayeon, the haenyeo are as strong and graceful as mermaids. To give her strength, Dayeon eats Grandma's abalone porridge. She practices holding her breath while they do the dishes. And when Grandma suits up for her next dive, Dayeon grabs her suit, flippers, and goggles. A scary memory of the sea keeps Dayeon clinging to the shore, but with Grandma's guidance, Dayeon comes to appreciate the ocean's many gifts. (Description from Amazon)
Tofu Takes Time
Author: Helen H. Wu (@helenhwu)
Illustrator: Julie Jarema (@rainbowfish523)
CLICK CLACK WHIRRRR . . . Lin and her grandma, NaiNai, are making tofu from scratch! When NaiNai goes through each step, from blending soybeans with water to molding curd into shape, Lin gradually becomes impatient. But she soon discovers that making tofu not only takes time, but also takes the whole universe! It takes the seed from soil and sunshine, the cloth from thread and fiber, weight and space, books of words and pictures. And most of all, it takes spending lovely time with her beloved grandmother.
In this charming tale by Helen H. Wu, readers will marvel at how patience brings a whole universe together in a simple dish made by a modern Chinese American family. (Description from Amazon)
When Lola Visits
Author: Michelle Sterling (@averyandaugustine)
Illustrator: Aaron Asis (@aaronasis)
For one young girl, summer is the season of no school, of days spent at the pool, and of picking golden limes off the trees. But summer doesn’t start until her lola—her grandmother from the Philippines—comes for her annual visit.
Summer is special. For her lola fills the house with the aroma of mango jam, funny stories of baking mishaps, and her quiet sweet singing in Tagalog. And in turn, her granddaughter brings Lola to the beach, to view fireworks at the park, and to catch fish at their lake.
When Lola visits, the whole family gathers to cook and eat and share in their happiness of another season spent together. Yet as summer transitions to fall, her lola must return home—but not without a surprise for her granddaughter to preserve their special summer a bit longer. (Description from Amazon)
Author/Illustrator: Julie Kim (@juliejookim)
Beautifully illustrated and told by debut author Julie Kim, this authentic voices picture book in graphic-novel style follows a young Korean girl and boy whose search for their missing grandmother leads them into a world inspired by Korean folklore, complete with mischievous goblins (dokkebi), a greedy tiger, a clever rabbit, and a wily fox.
Two young children pay a visit to Halmoni (grandmother in Korean), only to discover she's not home. As they search for her, noticing animal tracks covering the floor, they discover a window, slightly ajar, new to their grandmother's home. Their curiosity gets the best of them, and they crawl through and discover an unfamiliar fantastical world, and their adventure begins. As they continue to search for their grandmother and solve the mystery of the tracks, they go deeper into a world of Korean folklore, meeting a number of characters who speak in Korean along the way, and learn more about their cultural heritage. (Description from Amazon)
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!