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Stories Set in Asia and the Pacific Islands

It's not always possible to travel in person, but reading a book set in another country can be the next best thing! As the largest continent on Earth, Asia is home to a vast diversity of countries and cultures. And while there are thousands of miles between them, the Pacific Islands number over 30,000. This list isn't exhaustive when it comes to the many countries and cultures found in these areas, but the books here are a great place to start your next literary getaway. Make a splash in the Pacific Islands with books set in New Zealand and Hawaii; travel to East Asia via stories found in China, Japan, South Korea, or Taiwan; explore Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, or Vietnam with books in Southeast Asian settings; visit South Asian story worlds by way of Afghanistan, India and Pakistan; or journey to West Asia through books set in Iran, Oman, Qatar, or Syria. Memoirs, fantasies, romances, folktales, and more—there's something here for everyone. For other great escapes, check out Books Inspired by Asian Folklore and Mythology.

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Cannonball Poster Image
BOOK

Cannonball

age 3+

Warm story of individuality and achieving a perfect splash.

By: Sacha Cotter (2020)
The Chinese Emperor's New Clothes Poster Image
BOOK

The Chinese Emperor's New Clothes

age 6+

Clever twist on classic tale adds dimension and great art.

The Girl and the Ghost Poster Image
BOOK

The Girl and the Ghost

age 8+

Spellbinding story of ghosts, strong girls, and friendship.

By: Hanna Alkaf (2020)
Tua and the Elephant Poster Image
BOOK

Tua and the Elephant

age 8+

Fun, exciting tale of Thai girl who rescues an elephant.

By: R.P. Harris (2012)
The Turtle of Oman Poster Image
BOOK

The Turtle of Oman

age 8+

Poetic story about boy who doesn't want to move to America.

By: Naomi Shihab Nye (2014)
When Heaven Fell Poster Image
BOOK

When Heaven Fell

age 8+

Snapshot of Vietnamese culture past and present.

By: Carolyn Marsden (2007)
When the Sea Turned to Silver Poster Image
BOOK

When the Sea Turned to Silver

age 8+

Rich folklore-fantasy blend makes a great read-aloud.

By: Grace Lin (2016)
A Wish in the Dark Poster Image
BOOK

A Wish in the Dark

age 8+

Dazzling, Thai-inspired riff on Les Mis has big heart.

A windblown girl stands at a ships railing clutching a scroll and a spyglass.
BOOK

The Last Mapmaker

age 9+

Exciting seafaring fantasy adventure for brave tween.

Amal Unbound Poster Image
BOOK

Amal Unbound

age 10+

Compelling story of girl in Pakistan forced to be a servant.

By: Aisha Saeed (2018)
The Bridge Home Poster Image
BOOK

The Bridge Home

age 10+

Heartbreak, hope in fierce story of homeless kids in India.

By: Padma Venkatraman (2019)
The Grand Plan to Fix Everything Poster Image
BOOK

The Grand Plan to Fix Everything

age 10+

Young girl's Bollywood-esque adventure is lots of fun.

By: Uma Krishnaswami (2011)
Lalani of the Distant Sea Poster Image
BOOK

Lalani of the Distant Sea

age 10+

Girl goes on epic quest in Filipino folklore-inspired tale.

By: Erin Entrada Kelly (2019)
My Fate According to the Butterfly Poster Image
BOOK

My Fate According to the Butterfly

age 10+

Emotional tale of family, forgiveness, and drug addiction.

By: Gail D. Villanueva (2019)
The Night Diary Poster Image
BOOK

The Night Diary

age 10+

India-Pakistan religious conflict drives moving family tale.

By: Veera Hiranandani (2018)
Omar Rising Poster Image
BOOK

Omar Rising

age 10+

Inspiring story of students rising up to fight an injustice.

By: Aisha Saeed (2022)
Other Words for Home Poster Image
BOOK

Other Words for Home

age 10+

Hopeful, relatable story of Syrian refugee in middle school.

By: Jasmine Warga (2019)
Pashmina Poster Image
BOOK

Pashmina

age 10+

Big-hearted graphic novel explores Indian culture.

By: Nidhi Chanani (2017)
Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party Poster Image
BOOK

Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party

age 10+

Gripping story, great intro to China's Cultural Revolution.

Secrets of the Terra-Cotta Soldier Poster Image
BOOK

Secrets of the Terra-Cotta Soldier

age 10+

Boy joins a come-to-life clay soldier in exciting adventure.