All month long, schools, community organizations, and cultural institutions across New York City are celebrating the cultures, traditions, and history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States.
For teachers, students, and school communities, AAPI Heritage Month provides an excellent opportunity to explore the rich history and cultures of New Yorkers whose familial, ethnic, and ancestral roots come from countries in Asia and the Pacific Ocean. These stories and histories, in turn, allow us to reexamine and renew our understanding of American history in ways that enable us to identify what we all have in common with each other both as Americans and as New Yorkers.
In commemoration of AAPI Heritage Month, many City schools have organized events, activities, and lessons in May to highlight the experiences, perspectives, and contributions of Asian and Pacific Islander cultures in the U.S, and to help spread the word citywide, we have put together the following lists of AAPI heritage-related books, events, and resources for families and students in grades 3-K through 12.
We hope you enjoy and learn from these outstanding recommendations—let us know in the comments section below if you have any suggestions you’d like to share!
Events for Families
The New York Public Library (NYPL) is hosting dozens of in-person and online events throughout May in celebration of AAPI heritage across the City and the United States. From in-person afternoon movies for families and virtual chats about AAPI representation in comic books, to live cooking of Dim Sum 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 events calendar.
Now in its 22nd year, the New York Indian Film Festival (NYIFF) is North America’s oldest and most prestigious cinematic festival concerning films from India and the Indian Diaspora. Featuring independent and art house features and short films, the festival’s virtual format provides viewers with the opportunity to view outstanding and award-winning cinema from the comfort of their home. See which movies will be available during the festival on NYIFF’s streaming webpage.
Virtual streaming is available beginning on May 7, 2022 at 12:00 a.m.
On May 14, the festival will end with an in-person closing night film screening and awards presentation. Tickets for this event are available for $50 per person.
Join NYC Parks’ Urban Park Rangers for a walking tour and discussion of the Asian nations that participated in the 1964 World’s Fair in Queens. The walking tour will include stories from inside the pavilions and the enduring gifts from Asia that are still present in the park today.
Join New York City’s first-ever parade honoring Japanese people and heritage, and celebrate the 150th anniversary of Japanese–U.S. relations! Actor, author, artist, and activist, George Takei, will be the parade’s Grand Marshall.
The parade kicks off at 1:00 p.m. at 81st Street and Central Park West. An accompanying street fair will take place from 1–4:30 p.m. at 69th Street bet. Columbus Avenue and Central Park West.
We all play a role in creating safe public spaces for each other. Through this workshop held in partnership with the NYC Commission on Human Rights, learn how bystander intervention training can help provide New Yorkers with tools and strategies to safely respond to situations of bias and discrimination.
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!
The National Archives
The website holds a wealth of material documenting Asian and Pacific Islander experiences in the United States. Features a collection of primary and secondary sources from the National Archives and Records Administration, including photos, historical newspaper clippings, and interview transcripts.
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.
Booklists for Young Readers
Many of the books below are available on the DOE’s Asian American/Pacific Islanders 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)
- Bee-Bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park; art by Ho Baek Lee
- Bilal Cooks Daal by Aisha Saeed; art by Anoosha Syed
- A Different Pond by Bao Phi; art by Thi Bui
- Drawn Together by Minh Lê; art by Dan Santat
- Eyes That Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho; art by Dung Ho
- Home is in Between by Mitali Perkins; art by Lavanya Naidu
- The Many Colors of Harpreet Singh by Supriya Kelkar; art by Alea Marley
- Puddle by Hyewon Yum
- Thread of Love by Kabir Sehgal and Surishtha Sehgal; art by Zara Gonzalez Hoang
- Where’s Halmoni? by Julie Kim
Elementary School (Grades 3–5)
- Any Day with You by Mae Respicio
- Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan
- Bobby vs. Girls (accidentally) by Lisa Yee; art by Dan Santant
- Home is East by Many Ly
- Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch by Julie Abe
- The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly
- Measuring Up by Lily LaMotte; art by Ann Xu
- Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani
- Sam Wu is Not Afraid of Ghosts by Katie Tsang; art by Nathan Reed
- When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller
- Your Place in the Universe by Jason Chin
Middle School (Grades 6–8)
- Almost American Girl by Robin Ha
- Bronze and Sunflower by Cao Wenxuan and Helen Wang; art by Meilo So
- Displacement by Kiku Hughes
- Escape from Aleppo by N. H. Senzai
- Frazzled: Everyday Disasters and Impending Doom by Booki Vivat
- Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly
- 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
High School (Grades 9–12)
- 96 Words for Love by Rachel Roy and Ava Dash
- Blue Boy: A Novel by Rakesh Satyal
- Diary of a Tokyo Teen by Christine Mari Inzer
- Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar
- I’ll Be the One by Lyla Lee
- A Map to the Sun by Sloane Leong
- A Match Made in Mehendi by Nandini Bajpai
- Parachutes by Kelly Yang
- Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay
- Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed
- You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins
We hope you enjoy these titles, resources, and events as you commemorate AAPI heritage throughout May and beyond! For more AAPI Heritage 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 AAPI Heritage Month!