American Pacific American Heritage: Sports Stories

From true legends of their time to kids with big dreams, these books tell engaging stories that capture important moments of history as well as the daily experiences of kids growing up today.

Baseball Saved Us

During World War II, Japanese Americans were placed in internment camps. Isolated and bored, baseball became a life and soul-saving pastime which successfully brought very different people together. Darkly hued illustrations evoke the difficulty of the time, based on the author's family story. Spanish version available.

Be Water, My Friend

Illustrated by: Dom Lee
Age Level: 9-12

In this tribute to martial arts legend Bruce Lee, Ken Mochizuki tells the story of Lee's childhood and youth in Hong Kong before coming to America. Dramatic illustrations evoking sepia photographs depict Bruce's power and grace as he mastered the martial arts throughout his young life.

Bounce Back (Zayd Saleem: Chasing the Dream series)

By: Hena Khan

Zayd has a plan. He’s ready to take the reins as team captain of the Gold Team. But when an injury leaves him on the sidelines, his plans get derailed. Can Zayd learn what it means to be a leader if he’s not the one calling the shots?

El Chino

By: Allen Say
Age Level: 6-9

This remarkable story is based on the life of Billy Wong, a Chinese-American who travels to Europe, becomes fascinated with bullfighting, and decides to become a matador. Eventually, Billy's determination and recognition of what makes him unique helps him realize his dream. Luminous watercolors illustrate this sensitive picture book biography.

In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson

Illustrated by: Marc Simont
Age Level: 9-12

Meet Shirley Temple Wong, a delightful heroine who has come from China and arrived in Brooklyn in 1947 — the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson. Based on the author's own experiences, the story captures the highs and lows of coming to live in a new country, learning English, and falling in love with the Brooklyn Dodgers during moments that are both heartbreaking and hilarious. A must-read for teachers working with ELLs and newcomer students.

On Point (Zayd Saleem: Chasing the Dream series)

By: Hena Khan
Age Level: 9-12

Now that Zayd has made the Gold Team, he’s hustling hard and loving every minute of the season. But when team starts to struggle, Zayd can’t help wondering if it has something to do with him. Even worse, his best friend Adam suddenly starts acting like he doesn’t care about basketball anymore, even though they are finally teammates. He stops playing basketball with Zayd at recess and starts hanging out with other kids. Then, Adam up and quits the Gold Team to play football instead.

Pro Sports Biographies: Chloe Kim

Age Level: 9-12

A photo-illustrated biography for early readers on US pro snowboarder Chloe Kim. Describes her childhood, when she started riding a snowboard, and how he got to be one of the youngest pro halfpipe and slopestyle snowboarders. Includes a fact sheet with highlighted accomplishments, glossary, books, and websites.

Running Shoes

Illustrated by: Jason Gaillard
Age Level: 6-9

Sophy longs with all of her heart to attend school, but it is too far away to walk without running shoes. When a kind stranger sends her a pair of shoes, Sophy doesn't waste any time running all 8 kilometers straight to the school. She is the only girl and the boys ridicule her, but once given the opportunity, Sophy is determined to realize her dream. Lovely paintings evoke Sophy's spirit and the beauty of the Cambodian countryside.

Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds: The Sammy Lee Story

By: Paula Yoo
Illustrated by: Dom Lee
Age Level: 6-9

As an Asian American child growing up in California, Sammy Lee was only allowed to use the public pool on Wednesdays. But Sammy was not easily deterred from his dream of becoming an Olympic diver, and at the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, he became the first Asian American to win a gold medal in U.S. history. Paula Yoo and Dom Lee skillfully bring Sammy's story to life in this inspirational biography.

Step Up to the Plate, Maria Singh

Age Level: 9-12

Nine-year-old Maria Singh longs to play softball in the first-ever girls' team forming in Yuba City, California. It's the spring of 1945, and World War II is dragging on. Miss Newman, Maria's teacher, is inspired by Babe Ruth and the All-American Girls' League to start a girls' softball team at their school. Meanwhile, Maria's parents - Papi from India and Mama from Mexico - can no longer protect their children from prejudice and from the discriminatory laws of the land.

Surfer of the Century: The Life of Duke Kahanamoku

Age Level: 9-12

"The Pacific Ocean was Duke's backyard." So begins the tale of Duke Kahanamoku, often considered the "Father of Modern Surfing." Duke won six Olympic medals as a swimmer, but surfing was his passion. Duke, who encountered discrimination throughout his lifetime, was also a hero, saving eight people singlehandedly from a capsized boat in 1925. Readers will enjoy discovering the story behind Duke's unforgettable legacy.