May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!

Posted & filed under Blog, display, Early Literacy, Youth & Teen.

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month! You can learn more about the origins of this month designed to “celebrate and pay tribute to the contributions generations of Asian/Pacific Americans have made to American history, society and culture” here. To celebrate, our librarians curated lists of books by Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander creators for readers of all ages to enjoy all year long. Below, we have included photos of our staff picks displays, learning resources, virtual events to attend, and ways to take action to support our AAPI community.


You can stop by to browse our displays and/or click the titles below to put materials on hold at our library or other libraries in our system. The pictures below are just some of the books we’ve put on our displays. This is definitely not a definitive list of books or resources, but hopefully a good place to start reading, discussing, and sharing. We’d love to hear from you about the resources you find useful.

Picture Books

Picture Books pictured above from left to right:

Surfer of the Century: The Life of Duke Kahanamoku by Ellie Crowe, illustrated by Richard Waldrep

Like the Moon Loves the Sky by Hena Khan, illustrated by Saffa Khan

A Map into the World by Kao Kalia Yang, illustrated by Seo Kim

The Many Colors of Harpreet Singh By Supriya Kelkar, illustrated by Alea Marley

Watercress by Andrea Chang, illustrated by Jason Chin

Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and June Jo Lee, illustrated by Man One

Ohana Means Family by Ilima Loomis, illustrated by Kenard Pak

Drawn Together by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat

A Different Pond by Bao Phi, illustrated by Thi Bui

The Ocean Calls: A Haenyeo Mermaid Story by Tina Cho, illustrated by Jess X. Snow

Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom by Teresa Robeson, Illustrated by Rebecca Huang

Sugar in Milk by Thrity Umrigar, illustrated by Khoa Le

Middle Grade/Chapter Books

Middle grade/chapter books pictured above from left to right:

Front Desk by Kelly Yang

All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team by Christina Soontornvat

The Best at It by Maulik Pancholy

A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat

Once Upon an Eid: Stories of Hope and Joy by 15 Muslim Voices, edited by S. K. Ali and Aisha Saeed, illustrated by Sara Alfageeh

A Thousand Questions by Saadia Faruqi

Stargazing by Jen Wang

Awesome Asian Americans: 20 Stars who made America Amazing by Philip Amara & Oliver Chin, illustrated by Juan Calle

The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly

Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park

Finish the Fight!: The Brave and Revolutionary Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote by Veronica Chambers & the Staff of The New York Times

Game of Stars (Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond #2) by Sayantani DasGupta

Green Lantern: Legacy by Minh Lê, illustrated by Andie Tong

Dawn Raid by Pauline Vaeluaga Smith

Young Adult

Young adult books pictured above from left to right:

Finding My Voice by Marie Myung-Ok Lee

Flamer by Mike Curato

Come on In: 15 Stories about Immigration and Finding Home, edited by Adi Alsaid

Shine by Jessica Jung

Superman Smashes the Klan by Gene Luen Yang, illustrated by Gurihiru

Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay

Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

American Betiya by Anuradha D. Rajurkar

Almost American Girl: An Illustrated Memoir by Robin Ha

Ink Knows No Borders: Poems of the Immigrant and Refugee Experience, edited by Patrice Vecchione and Alyssa Raymond


Adult books pictured above from left to right:

The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir by Thi Bui

Oleander Girl: A Novel by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

The Making of Asian America: A History by Erika Lee

Chinatown Pretty by Andria Lo & Valerie Luu

Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls: A Memoir by T Kira Madden

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

Iep jāltok: Poems from a Marshallese Daughter by Kathy Jetn̄il-Kijiner

Asian Americans PBS series (all episodes also available streaming online here)

In addition to our physical displays, you can access many of these titles, as well as films, documentaries, ebooks and audiobooks on Overdrive and Hoopla. Kanopy has also curated a selection of films and documentaries for Asian American and Pacific Islander month that you can access with your library card.

Virtual Events

There are incredible virtual events across the country that we can attend from our homes. I’ve selected a couple suggested events, but there are definitely many happening throughout this month and beyond.

Dakota County Library in Minnesota is hosting a variety of programs to uplift diverse Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) experiences and voice including:

*music and dance performances

*author talks with Paula Yoo, author of The Killing of Vincent Chin and the Trial that Galvanized the Asian American Movement, An Na, author of The Place Between Breaths, V.T. Bidania, author of the Astrid and Apollo series, and Kao Kalia Yang, author of Somewhere in the Unknown World

*a talk with historian and librarian Sarah Okner to learn about the intern​ment of more than 120,000 Japanese American adults and children during World War II

*conversation about Asian American Adoptees in Children’s Literature with award-winning poet, educator, and Korean adoptee Sun-Yung Shin along with library science professor and adoption scholar Dr. Sarah Park Dahlen, and so much more!

Register here.

Join the Asian Author Alliance for AAPI Book Month, “a month-long celebration of AAPI identities and cultures. AAPI authors and artists will come together for virtual panels and events throughout the month of May! Join us for discussions and celebrations of Asian and Pacific Islander identities and cultures!” Set reminders to attend their YouTube Panels, which you can always watch at your convenience.

We’re especially excited for the Diversity in YA 10 Year Anniversary Discussion (Instagram Live) with Malinda Lo and Cindy Pon on Friday, May 7 at 7pm CT.

“A decade ago, Cindy Pon and Malinda Lo launched Diversity in YA, a national book tour and website that celebrated diversity in young adult books. Today they look back on the ten-year anniversary of DiYA and talk about what’s changed and what hasn’t since 2011.”

Some of the best learning experiences we’ve had this year have been at Skokie Public Library’s Civic Lab. Civic Lab returns on Monday, May 10 from 7:30-8:30pm CT for a session on Asian American Activism.

“The term “Asian American” did not come into existence until the 1960s. Learn about the history of the term, its inclusion of Pacific Islanders, and the legacy of Asian American solidarity movements.” Register here.

Take Action

“Introduced by Sen. Villivalam and Rep. Gong-Gershowitz, the Teaching Equitable Asian American Community History (TEAACH) Act (HB 376) will paint a more complete picture of our shared history by adding Asian American history to the Illinois School Code.” According to the Asian American Caucus, “This bill would ensure Asian American students learn stories that reflect their experiences. Further, all students will have a better understanding of Asian American communities, experiences, and histories as part of our country.”

The bill has passed in the Illinois House of Representatives, and now goes to the Senate. You can email your Legislators to Co-Sponsor and vote to pass the TEAACH Act ((HB 376 and SB 648) here. You can learn more about the efforts to pass this bill here.

Support organizations like Stop AAPI Hate, Hate is a Virus, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice.

Participate in bystander intervention trainings and continued education.

Support providing Asian American Studies and Asian American Literature classes. Check out the Defining Safe podcast hosted by Yiming Fu with Albert Chan, a social studies teacher at Niles North High School & Niles West High School, about the process to create the Asian American studies class in D219.

What other ways are you taking action?

Learning Resources

Want to find even more excellent books? Check out the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, which is awarded by the Asian Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA).

Check out the Guide for Parents of Asian/Asian American Adolescents (William James College Center for Multicultural and Global Mental Health (CMGMH) Asian Mental Health Program, in collaboration with the Massachusetts General Hospital  (MGH) Center for Cross Cultural Student Emotional Wellness).

Dr. Sarah Park Dahlen has created an invaluable (and continually growing) collection of Asian American K-12 Resources.

You can watch all five episodes of PBS’s Asian Americans documentary series for free online.

“Asian Americans is a five-hour film series that delivers a bold, fresh perspective on a history that matters today, more than ever. As America becomes more diverse, and more divided, while facing unimaginable challenges, how do we move forward together? Told through intimate and personal lives, the series will cast a new lens on U.S. history and the ongoing role that Asian Americans have played in shaping the nation’s story.”

You can also access behind-the-scenes process interviews, educational resources and lesson plans, and an interactive gallery.

Embrace Race offers incredible webinars (with recordings available afterwards) for caregivers, educators and community members including the recent Violence Against Asian Americans: How Do We Support the Children?.

Attend the on-demand webinar from Learning for Justice about Teaching Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.