How To Challenge AAPI Stereotypes Through Reading Across Genres

With more and more AAPI books coming out across all genres, it’s important to challenge preconceived AAPI stereotypes by being open to learning through new stories. Read on to learn more about the different genres you can start with!

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4 AAPI Book Covers showcased from the article: Dragonfruit by Makiia Lucier, The Boy You Always Wanted by Michelle Quach, Halo-Halo: A poetic mix of Culture, history, identity, revelation, and revolution by Justine Ramos, and Scar of the Bamboo Leaf by Sieni A.M.

There are so many options to choose from when it comes to AAPI stories. Whether you want contemporary, fantasy, mysteries, or other genres, AAPI stories by AAPI authors have grown. So, why is this growth important? Getting a variety of AAPI stories means that readers can look beyond simple stereotypes and understand that there is a complexity of identities and cultures—it’s a way to honor the fact that not every AAPI story and experience looks the same and still offers a much more well-rounded view of the AAPI experience both rooted in reality and the endless possibilities of fictional worlds.

Fantasy From a Different POV

What would it look like if we continued to expand on what fantasy could look like? Readers may see the beauty of reading how cultures are interwoven into the storyline with care and the magic these details bring to books. Perhaps worldbuilding, the language, or even the action may look different, but rather than this being a challenge, it’s an invitation to learn something new and to appreciate the story’s charms.

Dragonfruit by Makiia Lucier

How far would you go for a chance to get back home? For Hanalei of Tamarind, getting the dragonfruit advised to her by a female dragon is the opportunity of a lifetime to return home after being exiled, following her father’s thievery of a seadragon’s egg meant for the princess. Meanwhile, the stakes are just as high for Samahtitamahenele, or Sam, as obtaining the dragonfruit could mean finding a cure for his mother, the queen of Tamarind, to halt the possible end of her reign, an incredible task for their matriarchal kingdom. Working together means more than just fighting off others looking for dragonfruit, but treading lightly with how treacherous the dragonfruit itself can be.

Book Cover for Dragonfruit with main character Hanalei right in the center.

Force of Fire by Sayantani Dasgupta

A young demon, Pinki, coming from a line of rakkhosh resisters, must harness her bad side to help out with her family’s long history of working alongside other species to kick down oppressors and fight for their rights. However, so many things get in the way, like the fact that she can’t control her fire-breathing powers yet, trying to stay at the top of her class, and yes, having to take care of her little cousins too…which is all a lot to handle. But, with a promise to control her fire-breathing powers by Sesha, the son of the Serpentine Governor, she must help with fighting against the resistance.

Book Cover of Force of Fire by Sayantani Dasgupta with the main character on the front.

Contemporary: A Chance to Just Be

One of the joys of contemporary stories by AAPI authors is that readers get to see the different ways that people simply live their lives. Whether it be a slice-of-life, a coming-of-age story, or exploring family dynamics, understanding the different ways AAPI characters can simply live their lives is a reminder that these stories are more than just stereotypes, but rather an opportunity to see well-rounded, three-dimensional characters living their lives.

The Boy You Always Wanted by Michelle Quach

Told in the dual POV of Francine and Ollie, The Boy You Always Wanted follows a story of family and the complexities of love and tradition. With Francine’s grandfather wanting to see family traditions carried out by a male heir one last time, Francine asks Ollie Tran to play the part. With Ollie’s reservations about the whole plan, they both find themselves caught between one another and the lies they created, and it’s only a matter of time before they both learn to find themselves through it all.

Book cover of The Boy You Always Wanted by Michelle Quach.

Scar of the Bamboo Leaf by Sieni A.M.

There is so much more to a person than what we see on the surface. This is true for Kiva Mau, a 15-year-old girl finding beauty in all things through her sketchbook and during her time at her family’s art center. When she meets Ryler Cade, with a seemingly tough exterior, sent from far away to change his behavior, she treats him like how she treats her day-to-day, with the same lens of seeing the beauty in all things, which forms a strong bond that will be challenged through the years to come.

Book Cover of Scar of the Bamboo Leaf. A silhouette of a woman with her hair in a bun and a crown of feathers on a bright orange background.

Poetry, an Introduction

There’s something special about poetry that introduces us to the writer, whether it be the rhymes, the format, the language, or the heart of the story. Here, we are greeted with the stories of the lives that people have walked, talked, and lived.

Halo-Halo: A poetic mix of culture, history, identity, revelation, and revolution by Justine Ramos

Through the usage of slam-style poetry, Justine Ramos recounts her own experience with complex ideas of identities, language, family, and immigration while relearning what it means to step into these aspects with a lens of change.

Cover of Halo Halo, with a girl with butterfly sleeves, rowing through melted ice scream from the halo halo.

Ocean Mother by Arielle Taitano Lowe

Through poetry, Lowe shares the experiences of being a CHamoru girl while exploring themes of culture and family, while being centered on healing, all through the storytelling of Ocean Mother.

Cover of Ocean Mother with a mixture of lad and sea with the main character seated in the front of the fish to the sun.

While this is only a sliver of the AAPI books spanning across genres, it’s an honor to share these incredible stories. As an Asian-American woman myself, I find that I’m always excited to read new stories from AAPI authors, and I’m sure I’ll continue to look forward to new releases and hear from authors for years to come.

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