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16 Inspiring Books for Kids set in Asia

Updated: Jun 15

Are you looking for inspiring illustrated books set in Asia? We compiled a list of some books we've enjoyed, and we believe you will like them too. These are also books I feel will appeal as a family read-aloud. Let's travel with kids to Asia through books and learn about that magnificent and diverse part of our beautiful world.

1. I live in Tokyo




A heartwarming picture book about a Japanese child's everyday life in Tokyo: it teaches the Japanese culture and discusses holidays and traditions common to Japan.

I provide a glimpse of what it is like to live in japan and how the main character's family celebrates different holidays.

2. The Firekeeper's son



The story is set in the 1800s and based upon an actual bonfire signal system. It tells the story of a young Korean boy Sang-hee and his father, the firekeeper who has an important role of lightning a fire signaling to the palace that all is well and that there was no invasion. But if no fire was lit, the king would know to send soldiers. One day his father is injured, and the young boy faces two choices, each which a consequence. To learn more, get your copy.

3. The Great Race: The story of the Chinese Zodiac




In this lovely illustrated book, we learned the legend of how the Chinese calendar came into being and the reason in which order they've been placed, and how the Jade Emperor decides that he will name each year in the calendar after a different animal.

4. Hush! A Thai Lullaby




A rhythmic Thai Lullaby bedtime story that children around the world will love.

This is the story of a mother in Thailand trying to get the surrounding world quiet so that her baby can sleep. It is Perfect for 2-5

5. Tales told in tents




12 tales from central Asia. There is a beautiful map at the back of the book, and we like how the author talked about how she collected the stories.

6. One Grain of Rice: A Mathematical folktale



This is a brilliant mathematical folktale from India of a girl named Rani, who outwits a greedy Raja who has hoarded reserves of rice grown by her village. She tricks him into doing the right thing for people from her village. We like it because it addresses the magic of numbers beautifully and does a great job explaining exponential growth. It also addresses social justice issues and how to be considerate of others.

7. Lady Hahn and her 7 friends




A lovely story about a seamstress and her seven sewing tools. It does a great job of teaching humility and showing the importance of everyone's talents. An engaging story about friendship

8. Zen Shorts





Beautifully watercolor illustrated book. Zen Shorts tells the story of three siblings who encounter Stillwater, a mysterious Panda with a red umbrella, in their back yard. The Panda teaches each child one lesson relates to their lives. It is profound and beautiful.

9. When Spring comes to the DMZ




It is a bittersweet story set in the 2.5 miles (4 km)-wide demilitarized zone ( DMZ) between South Korea and North Korea. It evokes peace and beauty amid the military. It is a conversation starter regarding the divide of both countries. You will learn about an older man who goes periodically to the lookout on the South Korean side to look at his old home in the north.

10. Little Sap and Monsieur Rodin