Parents' Guide to


By Sally Engelfried, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Girl faces racism, sister's cancer in touching tale.

Kira-Kira Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 13+

Surprised by content

I am surprised that the Common Sense Media Expert review and the parent reviews didn’t reveal some unnecessary content in the book. Sexy stuff: 1) Main character talk of her sister showing her new breasts to her male cousins. 2)The main character wonders if her 15 year old sister is showing her breasts to the boy she is out with. While playing scrabble, a boy cousin creates the word “sperm. “ There is talk of parents trying to make a baby. The main character didn’t know what it involved, so she listened at her parents’ door and heard a lot of grunting. She then concludes that making a baby is a lot of hard work. Language: There is sporadic use of language through the book. G*d D***. And others. I don’t have time to look it up, but I would say there was mild profanity on 3-4 different occasions. I personally enjoyed the book. However, I read books with kids in mind. 10-12 year olds don’t need the sexy stuff. As a parent, I would be upset if this book was in my child’s classroom. Otherwise, the book is very good with great messages and role models.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models
Too much sex
1 person found this helpful.
age 11+


I'm not sure how there is only 1 star for language when it uses the S-word. I was pretty shocked to see it in a book for children. The rest of the book is very good, but for one line I can't keep the book in my classroom library. Disappointing choice by the author, in my opinion.

This title has:

Too much swearing

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3):
Kids say (26):

Historical fiction lovers will find an easy entry into KIRA-KIRA, as Katie's an immensely likeable narrator. She manages to remain optimistic about her future despite her family's struggles to stay afloat financially and, later, to get through her sister's illness. Her experiences as a Japanese American girl living in the Deep South in the 1950s are fascinating and sometimes amusing (as when Katie talks about her Southern accent and her celebrity status as "the little Japanese girl who said 'you all' instead of 'you'") and touch on political and social issues without being heavy-handed. Readers not interested in history may find it rough going, however, since it sometimes seems as if nothing good ever happens to Katie, and the bad times accumulate, especially toward the end.

Book Details

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate