Happy May! Happy Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander month! Our family is so excited to learn, immerse, and celebrate this month and we hope you are, too.
I compiled this big list of ideas for how you can honor the month and educate yourself and your children while having lots of fun. I hope it’s helpful! And if you’d like a more structured guide, you can check out this AAPI Month learning packet right here, which includes 20 mini lessons, coloring sheets, art projects, and more.
I hope you have a wonderful month experience the joy and diversity of these many cultures and communities!
Asian Americans have long experienced oppression as well as joy in ways both quiet and loud. Take some time this month to learn about the history of Asian Americans in the US, as well as about accomplishments, peoples, cultures, racism, model minority myth, and much more. Learn about continued racial and generational inequality, and also everyday joy. Learn about US aggressions, colonialism, and stolen kingdoms, including in places like Hawai’i.
Here are some wonderful resources to learn:
- Use this AAPI Month Learning Packet with 20 mini lessons to use through the month (includes bios + coloring sheets, art & STEM projects, and recipes – perfect for families with kids)
- 31 Stories for 31 Days of AAPI Heritage Month from PBS
- Antiracism Daily
- 8 Antiracist Actions for Kids
You can also learn antiracist vocabulary, about racist policies, about the Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander diasporas, and so much more.
Read Books Centering AAPI Characters & Experiences
Picture books are a wonderful way to introduce cultures, holidays, peoples, and experiences. They’re even great for older elementary children to hear and to launch a deeper discussion. There are a plethora of fantastic picture books representing a variety of backgrounds. Chapter books are great for kids to read on their own as they get older or for families to read together as a read aloud.
Here are some terrific book lists:
- AAPI Picture Books
- AAPI Children’s Books from Chicago Parent
- Social Justice Books AAPI Books for All Ages
- NY Metro Parents Asian American Books for Kids
- Middle Grade Books for AAPI Month
While it’s incredibly important to learn the history and to continue in activism, it’s also radically important to celebrate AANHPI joy and success. Learn about amazing some amazing leaders – creators, engineers, artists, etc. in the past and present.
Learn about leaders like Yo-Yo Ma, Sammy Lee, and many more. In particular, learn about some of the women who did important work, whose names tend to be forgotten – Patsy Mink, Yuri Kochiyama, Madhur Jaffrey, Connie Chung, Mona Haydar, and Jhumpa Lahiri are all amazing!
Music is great for setting the atmosphere. Here is just a small sampling of ideas for celebrating music of the AANHPI diaspora.
- Musics of Hawai’i
- Traditional Samoan Music
- Carnatic Music from India
- Khmer Classical Music
- Persian Traditional Music
Many incredible speakers who identify with the AAPI community have spoken beautifully on their personal experiences. Take time to learn from some of them!
Virtual Museum Tour
Several museums have online tours and other info about the AANHPI experience. A number also include at home activities in addition to virtual viewings of their collections.
Watching a movie or video about the AANHPI history & culture can also be a wonderful way to honor the month. This is a great way to spark some excellent discussions, too.
Here are some great films for families:
- Raya and the Last Dragon
- Finding ‘Ohana
- Lilo & Stitch
- Turning Red
- Over the Moon
- The Breadwinner (older kids)
- My Neighbor Totoro
- Hanuman Da’ Damdaar
Here are some more to watch!
There are also a number of educational videos for families of all ages. Here are some great ones!
- Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month for Kids
- AAPI or Asian American?
- Asian Pacific Heritage Month with Nickelodeon
Use the month as an opportunity to not just have one-time discussions with kids about race, but as a chance to start some continuing conversations. Use it as a chance to explain systemic racism to kids, and also to consider some simple antiracist kids actions. With older kids, you may want to discuss the model minority myth and its origins, and why it’s harmful to those under the “model minority” umbrella as well as to other marginalized communities. Discuss scarcity mindset as a tool of white supremacy.
Here’s a good video to start talking about race and racism.
Move Your Bodies
There are so many incredible and varied forms of movement within the various cultures represented this month. Consider a beginner’s bharathnatyam dance lesson, or a beginner’s karate lesson. This video shares more about the roots of hula, or you could learn some Khmer classical dance.
Book An Author or Illustrator Visit for Your School/Classroom
This month is a great opportunity to look into scheduling a virtual author visit for your school or classroom from an AANHPI author. There are few things more exciting than chatting with a real live author or illustrator of a book kids love!
Virtual visits are usually easy to book and accessible. Most authors/illustrators have a link on their websites to schedule one easily.
Here are some favorites who do visits:
- Grace Lin
- Joanna Ho
- Andrea Wang
- Rajani LaRocca
- Erin Entrada Kelly
- Christina Soontornvat
- Kao Kalia Yang
- Yangsook Choi
Support AANHPI-owned restaurants or markets. There is a huge variety of Asian, Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander food, so consider supporting a few local businesses during the month if available to you. If a full restaurant meal is too expensive, or if you love trying new recipes, consider visiting an Asian market or grocery store. H Mart is a Korean-American supermarket chain that has locations throughout the United States, and many cities have local stores from many ethnic backgrounds, as well.
This is a perfect opportunity to create some art either inspired by Asian, Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander artists or that honors their history. Five art and five stem projects are included in this AAPI learning packet, and each Global Children’s Book Club post for each different country highlights at least one art project. Plenty of options!
- A-Z Global Children’s Book Club (includes resources for Cambodia, Japan, Oman, Qatar, and Yemen
- 2021 Global Children’s Book Club (includes resources for the Philippines and Vietnam)
- 2022 Global Children’s Book Club (includes resources for Korea, India, Afghanistan, Thailand)
Encourage your children to actively work for changes to racist systems by contacting Congresspeople to change laws and policies. (Here is info on how children can contact members of Congress.) You could also keep a journal of antiracist actions your family has taken, questions you have, or feelings on what it would have been like to be part of different ethnic groups throughout America’s history.
Buy items from AANH/PI creators. You can stock up on gifts, buy household items, jewelry, and more. Here are a few of my favorite options, but I’m sure you can find many more.
- Hand-painted tea kettles
- Japanese dyed cotton (great for hand towels)
- Children’s clothing brand (owned by a Native Hawaiian mom of 4)
- Fabric pillow cases and brass containers
- Thai foods & spices
- Jewelry and bangles
- Handmade Hawaiian jewelry
Shift Your Language
Consider words and phrases you may use in everyday life that you can shift. This may include things like eliminating phrases like “China virus,” “chink,” or viewing culturally distinct groups as a monolith. Consider when speaking if you’re referring to all AANHPI as a complete group, all Asians, Indian people, etc. Here is a list of other phrases that are racist that you can work to change.
Where is racial equity lacking in your community? In your city’s access to playgrounds and libraries? In the diversity of literature in your school? Does your classroom highlight a variety of holidays? Is Dr. Seuss Day (whose books often stereotype Asian characters) still important, and could you share other Read Across America resources? Is your school administration and parent/teacher board representative of a variety of perspectives and families (and if not, what can you do to change that)? Figure out areas that need improvement and speak out, discuss, and listen.
Donate to organizations working toward equity and social justice. Some options are Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Stop AAPI Hate, South Asian Americans Leading Together, and the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum. You can find some other options here.
Plan what antiracist action you will take in the coming days, weeks, and months. Don’t allow your family to only celebrate for a month, but commit to continued action. Here’s a great of simple antiracist actions with kids.
IF YOU LIKED THIS POST WITH AAPI MONTH IDEAS FOR FAMILIES, YOU MIGHT LIKE THESE POSTS TOO:
- 10 Ideas For What To Do With Your Dr. Seuss Books
- 20+ Black History Month Ideas for Families
- 100 Conversation Starters To Talk To Kids About Race