Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month

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Celebrate Asian American & Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month!

May is Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month, an opportunity to celebrate the rich history, cultural diversity, and achievements of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (AANHPI) in the United States. The AANHPI community includes over 50 ethnicities in the U.S. with their own distinct histories, cultures, traditions, and languages. With the dramatic surge in anti-Asian violence, amplifying AANHPI voices and bringing attention to their experiences is more important than ever before.

Join us in lifting up and celebrating the AANHPI community this month and throughout the year. We’re sharing a preview of award-winning author Bao Phi’s picture book poem, You Are Life, essays about representation from authors Saadia Faruqi and V.T. Bidania, as well as featuring some of our favorite book recommendations by Asian American authors and fun freebies for your classroom or library.

Children from all backgrounds benefit from learning more about the culture and contributions of Asian American and Pacific Islanders. Two amazing online resources we recommend exploring are the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month website and the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center.

The Lunch Box Moments

Author Hanna Kim grew up in a small city in Michigan similar to where Ben, the main character of her middle grade series Ben Lee, moves to. As one of the very few Asian students in her school district, she faced her share of micro and macro-aggressions. From kids mocking her language to both peers and teachers assuming she should naturally be good at math, she felt the weight of feeling different from everyone else. 

The moments that impacted her the most were when other kids made fun of her homemade Korean lunches. They called it “smelly” and “weird.” This shared experience among many immigrant and first generation children is called "The Lunch Box Moment." Reflecting back on her experiences as a Korean-American—the shame she had of her culture, the desire she had to fit in, the eventual acceptance and pride she had for her identity—led her to write the first book in the series, The Magic Lunch Box.

Image of the book covers from Ben Lee middle grade series and headshot photo of author Hanna Kim

You Are Life

Every child is full to bursting with amazing things! This joyful poem celebrates the wonderful and complex identity of children of immigrants and refugees, embracing all that they are—a dancer, a shining light, a K-pop song—and promising what they will never be: invisible.

In Bao Phi’s picture book, You Are Life, he reminds young readers that who they are and what they love will always be enough. Learn more about the inspiration behind his poem and take a sneak peek inside the book.

Image of author Bao Phi and the cover of his new picture book You Are Life

Envisioning A Better World

“Let’s make it normal for kids to stand up against injustice and for what’s right.
Let’s make it normal for kids to envision a better world for all of us.”
—Bao Phi on the TODAY Show

Meet Jina Jeong!

When Jina Jeong has an idea, she doesn’t hesitate to act. Whether it’s steps for saving energy, helping save an endangered animal, or helping out classmates, Jina makes a plan and follows through with it – sometimes with unexpected results.

Korean American author Carol Kim has created charming stories centered around a Korean American female character in the new Jina Jeong series for grades 1-3. Centering on stories of young children involved in local volunteerism may just inspire readers to become involved in their own communities and causes that are important to them! The series launches in August 2023 with four titles, but you can get a sneak peek at one of the titles now!

Illustrated image of a Jina Jeong, a Korean American girl, hiking with a walking stick along with a book cover image of Project Earth by Carol Kim, illustrated by Ahya Kim

Accurate Representation During AANHPI Month

In this essay from Yasmin author Saadia Faruqi, she explores what it means to be Asian American and stresses the importance of sharing the myriad of cultures and ethnicities they encompass. 

"We want all our children to feel welcome and part of the diverse community they live in. We want them to know that we see them, know who they are, and what identities they possess."

Image of author Saadia Faruqi and the covers of her early chapter book series Yasmin

Why Representation Matters

Author V.T. Bidania shares her experiences trying to get her books published and the multitude of reasons why representation in literature, specifically children’s literature, is so important for children.

“Inside their hearts and minds, children are overflowing with stories. Their imaginations are jam-packed with ideas, adventures, and their own journeys. To never see their experiences reflected when they have stories bursting to come out is why it hurts so much to be excluded from books.”

Image of author V.T. Bidania and the covers of her early chapter book series Astrid and Apollo

Educator Resources & Downloadables

Thumbnail image of downloadable poster featuring artwork from You Are Life by Bao Phi and illustrated by Hannah LiThumbnail image of downloadable poster featuring artwork from You Are Life by Bao Phi and illustrated by Hannah Li
You Are Life Poster
Thumbnail image of Find It At Your Library Downloadable PosterThumbnail image of Find It At Your Library Downloadable Poster
Find It At Your Library! Poster
Thumbnail image of Hello, Mandarin Duck! Downloadable PosterThumbnail image of Hello, Mandarin Duck! Downloadable Poster
Everyone Is Welcome Poster
Thumbnail Image of Astrid and Apollo Downloadable BookmarksThumbnail Image of Astrid and Apollo Downloadable Bookmarks
Reading With Astrid & Apollo Bookmarks
Thumbnail Image of A Different Pond Reader's GuideThumbnail Image of A Different Pond Reader's Guide
A Different Pond
Reader's Guide
Thumbnail image of Yasmin Reader's GuideThumbnail image of Yasmin Reader's Guide
Reader's Guide
Infographic Q&A With Author Bao Phi
Q&A With Author
Bao Phi
Infographic of Author Q&A With V.T. Bidania
Q&A With Author
V.T. Bidania
Infographic Q&A With Author Debbi Michiko Florence
Q&A With Author
Debbi Michiko Florence

Books to Celebrate AANHPI

To celebrate Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we’ve curated a list of our books written by Asian American authors. From the 2018 Caldecott Honor Book A Different Pond to sci-fi adventures on Mars in Redworld, there’s something for every reader in our booklist.

Collage image of book covers for Asian American and Pacific Islanders Heritage Month written by AAPI authors