August 29, 2018
It's no secret -- for the past few weeks, Netflix users have been gushing about the adorable Netflix movie, To All the Boys I've Loved Before, based on the book with the same title by Jenny Han. What's all the fuss? Well, for one thing, this #ownvoices teen contemporary romance, written by a Korean-American author, features an Asian American character in a lead role, which may be the first ever such occurrence in a teen movie.
Fueled in part by the almost simultaneous release of Crazy Rich Asians, also based on a book by Kevin Kwan, audiences are going crazy about both of these delectable romances where Asian American characters are featured front and center.
While both films are receiving widespread claim, the movies have a special meaning for those in the audience who share the cultural identity of Lara Jean (To All the Boys) and Rachel (Crazy Rich Asians).
Reactions to both movies are full of heartfelt joy, and at the library, your patrons may be hungry for more. In that spirit, I created two printable flyers in LibraryAware you can use for a quick-and-easy display. Both feature teen titles with similar feels. One calls out the Netflix movie specifically, while the other emphasizes that these light and fluffy books also feature Asian Americans in a leading role.
While it's true that finding such books is quite a challenge, you can use NoveList's story elements to find the few books that do feature Asian American characters featured in a leading role. Our search strategies offer several ways to find books with diverse characters, look for books by culture, sort through different romances by steam level, and more. Or, copy and paste the searches we’ve provided below.
To find the widest variety of Asian American romances:
(GX "*Romances" OR GX "Romantic comedies" OR GX "*Chick lit") AND (Asian* OR Korean* OR Chinese* OR Japanese* OR Vietnamese* OR Malaysian)
You can Refine Results in the left panel by genre or audience level, as well as writing style, tone, or location, if desired.
To find romances featuring characters of a specific cultural identity, call it out:
(GX "*Romances" OR GX "Romantic comedies" OR GX "*Chick lit") AND Korean American*
To find Asian American characters featured in a wide variety of fiction genres try:
AP Culturally diverse AND (Asian* OR Korean* OR Chinese* OR Japanese* OR Vietnamese* OR Malaysian) AND NF Fiction
Using the asterisks will ensure you find characters that are Korean, as well as Korean American, Korean Canadian, etc.
Hopefully, audience reactions to these films will alert the film industry that the public wants more stories featuring all types of lives. Books, too. #WeNeedDiverseBooks
Lindsey Dunn is a Readers' Advisory Librarian at NoveList. She's a kidlit expert and creates resources for all the librarians out there grappling with keeping up with what books kids are reading. Want to hear more from her? Sign up for Lindsey's Book Squad email updates.