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All month long, schools, community organizations, and cultural institutions are celebrating the cultures, traditions, and history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States.

In commemoration of Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, many City schools have organized events, activities, and lessons to highlight the experiences, perspectives, and contributions of Asian and Pacific Island cultures in the U.S., and it is in this spirit that we have put together the following lists of books, events, and resources for families and students in grades 3-K through 12. We hope you enjoy and learn from these outstanding books and resources—let us know in the comments section below if you have any recommendations you’d like to share!

Woman on a yoga mat stretching and sitting across from a child who is also stretching in the same direction.

Photo by Kamaji Ogino. Used under Creative Commons license. Original can be found on Pexels.

Events for Families

AAPI Heritage Month Events at NYPL

The New York Public Library (NYPL) is hosting dozens of online events throughout May in celebration of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) across the City and the United States. From online family storytime and conversations with Asian American authors, to workshops for BIPOC creators seeking to write children’s books and book discussions for teenagers interested in manga, there’s something for practically everyone. Learn more about NYPL’s AAPI Month events by checking out their dedicated webpage.

Asia Society: A Biography Series for Children and Families

Throughout the month, the Asia Society’s Center for Global Education is highlighting inspiring Asian/Pacific Americans and exploring their specific contributions to life in America through an online series of live events that will be broadcast live on YouTube and Facebook. Check out the event schedule on the Asia Society’s event page and get your family ready to learn more about influential Americans like Ruth Asawa, Larry Itliong, Kalpana Chawla!

National AAPI Day Against Bullying and Hate

Tuesday, May 18, 2021
4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m., EST

Act to Change is hosting its third annual National AAPI Day Against Bullying + Hate rally. This year’s event will take place online and feature commemorative activities, including a signature virtual event that will be attended by celebrities, elected officials, community leaders, and more! Registration is required, so check out Act to Change’s event page, and register today!

Back of person using a brush to write kanji and hiragana on a sheet of paper

Interested in learning Japanese? Take NYPL’s “Hiragana for Beginners” course for free online on Friday, May 28! (Photo by Engin Akyurt. Used under Creative Commons license. Original can be found on Pexels.)

Resources for Students

The Library of Congress’ Official Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Site

Featuring collections from the National Archives and Records Administration, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian Institution, and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Library of Congress’ official Asian Pacific American Heritage Month website is an outstanding online resource for students seeking stories of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Americans from across U.S. history. Students can find photos, maps, music, biographies, newspaper clips, interviews, digital books, and even online exhibits through the site’s Exhibits and Collections listing.

The National Park Service’s AAPI Heritage Page

This website provides a listing of important national landmarks and other historic places of interest for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders throughout American history. Learn more about each of these sites, and perhaps you and your family can add a few of these destinations to your post-pandemic travel itinerary!

TIME Magazine’s “11 Moments from Asian American History That You Should Know”

In recognition of the lack of awareness that many Americans have about the history of Asian Americans in the United States, TIME Magazine consulted historians and Asian history experts to compile this list of 11 critical moments in American history that they believe should be taught in all K–12 schools across the country. From court cases like United States vs. Wong Kim Ark, to the Delano Grape Strike, this page provides a great summary of crucial historical events that have impacted the lives of generations of Asian Americans across three centuries.

TEDx Minneapolis’ “Xenophobia: How We Got Here and What’s at Stake?”

Professor Erika Lee from the University of Minnesota discusses the history of immigration and xenophobia in America in this 17-minute video that can be viewed by middle and high school students. In this video, Professor Lee explains how modern day xenophobia is connected to our country’s history of racism.

A row of storefronts on Mott Street in Chinatown NYC

Chinatown in downtown Manhattan is recognized by the National Park Service as a historical neighborhood that helps to tell the story of Asian Americans in the U.S. (Photo Credit: Mobilus in Mobili. Used under Creative Commons license. Original can be found on Flickr.)

Booklists for Young Readers

Many of the books below are available on the DOE’s eBook collection on Sora, as well as within the physical and/or digital collections of the New York, Queens, and Brooklyn Public Libraries. “Check out” these books throughout May and the rest of the year, and let us know what you think in the comments section below!

Early Elementary School (Grades 3-K through 2)

  • Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and June Jo Lee; art by Man One
  • A Different Pond by Bao Phi; art by Thi Bui
  • Eyes That Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho; art by Dung Ho
  • Holi Colors by Rina Singh
  • The Nian Monster by Andrea Wang, art by Alina Chau
  • Ocean Meets Sky by Terry Fan and Eric Fan
  • Paper Son: The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong, Immigrant and Artist by Julie Leung; art by Chris Sasaki
  • Puddle by Hyewon Yum
  • Story of the Mongolian Tent House by Dashdondog Jamba and Anne Pellowski; art by Beatriz Vidal
  • Thread of Love by Kabir Sehgal and Surishtha Sehgal; art by Zara Gonzalez Hoang
  • Where’s Halmoni? by Julie Kim

Book cover for the title, "Paper Son: The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong, Immigrant and Artist"

Elementary School (Grades 3–5)

  • Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood by Varsha Bajaj
  • Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan
  • Bobby vs. Girls (accidentally) by Lisa Yee; art by Dan Santant
  • Cilla Lee-Jenkins: Future Author Extraordinaire by Susan Tan; art by Dana Wulfekotte
  • Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee
  • The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly
  • Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani
  • Sadako and the 1000 Paper Cranes by Eleanor Loerr; art by Ronald Himler
  • Sam Wu is Not Afraid of Ghosts by Katie Tsang; art by Nathan Reed
  • A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat
  • When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller

Book cover for the title, "Pashmina"

Middle School (Grades 6–8)

  • Almost American Girl by Robin Ha
  • The Bamboo Sword by Margi Preus
  • Bronze and Sunflower by Cao Wenxuan and Helen Wang; art by Meilo So
  • Displacement by Kiku Hughes
  • Escape from Aleppo by N. H. Senzai
  • Isle of Blood and Stone by Makiia Lucier
  • The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen
  • Peasprout Chen, Future Legend of Skate and Sword by Henry Lien
  • Shadow Spinner by Susan Fletcher; art by Dave Kramer
  • This Time Will Be Different by Misa Sugiura
  • Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

Book cover for the title, "Isle of Blood and Stone"

High School (Grades 9–12)

  • After the Shot Drops by Randy Ribay
  • The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan
  • Blue Boy: A Novel by Rakesh Satyal
  • Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidler
  • Diary of a Tokyo Teen by Christine Mari Inzer
  • Flamer by MIke Curato
  • I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo
  • I Was Their American Dream: A Graphic Memoir by Malaka Gharib
  • Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo
  • A Pho Love Story by Loan Le
  • Serpentine by Cindy Pon
  • When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Book cover for the title, "I Was Their American Dream" by Malaka Gharib

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We hope you enjoy these titles, resources, and events as you commemorate Asian/Pacific American History throughout May and beyond! For more Asian/Pacific American History Month coverage, follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to The Morning Bell below.

On behalf of the NYC Department of Education, we wish all of our families a wonderful Asian/Pacific American History Month!


Banner photo by Prasanta Kr Dutta. Used under Creative Commons license. Original can be found on Pexels.

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NYC Department of Education, 2019