6 Ideas to Celebrate Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Celebrate AAPI month
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Celebrate the vibrant culture and heritage of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities during AAPI Heritage Month by delving into books, engaging in reading challenges, and participating in enriching activities. The term AAPI encompasses individuals with roots in diverse countries across Asia, the largest continent on Earth, and those hailing from over 25,000 islands in the vast Pacific Ocean. With ties to more than 40 countries and over 50 ethnic groups, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders represent a rich tapestry of diversity in the United States. As Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month continues, take the chance to delve into various stories and activities that explore the experiences, histories, and identities of the AAPI community.

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Discover AAPI Authors and Illustrators

  • Exploring stories written and illustrated by AAPI individuals can help us gain insight into their unique experiences and discover diverse storytelling styles and narratives. Supporting AAPI artists is a meaningful way to honor their contributions to literature and art. Be sure to explore works by these highly acclaimed authors and illustrators.

    • Amy Tan’s debut novel, The Joy Luck Club, was published in 1989. It uniquely captures the Chinese American experience, exploring themes of identity and family bonds through the interconnected lives of four immigrant families. The book’s success led to a Hollywood film adaptation, solidifying its place in literary and cinematic history.
    • Viet Thanh Nguyen came to the United States as a Vietnamese refugee in 1975 and published The Sympathizer in 2015. It blends spy thriller, comedy, and historical fiction while exploring cultural identity. The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2016 recognized its brilliance.
    • Jhumpa Lahiri’s debut book, The Interpreter of Maladies, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2000. Her subsequent novel, The Namesake, explores the experience of an immigrant family moving to Cambridge, Massachusetts, from Kolkata, India. Lahiri’s work resonates with many who have straddled two worlds, as first-generation immigrants often do.
    • Jenny Han, known for her bestselling We’ll Always Have Summer, gained widespread recognition with her All the Boys trilogy, adapted into a Netflix series. She has also authored two middle-grade chapter books: Shug and Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream.
    • Grace Lin’s book Where the Mountain Meets the Moon received the 2010 Newbery Honor and was a NY Times bestseller. President Obama's office acknowledged Lin as a Champion of Change for Asian American and Pacific Islander art and storytelling, and in 2022, the American Library Association honored her with the Children’s Literature Legacy Award. Hear more about Lin in this episode of The Reading Culture podcast.
    • Gene Luen Yang made history with his groundbreaking debut, American Born Chinese, the first graphic novel nominated for a National Book Award and a recipient of the American Library Association’s Printz Award, the Eisner Award, and the L.A. Times Book Prize. His work extends to comics for Avatar: The Last Airbender and Superman.

Participate in Beanstack Reading Challenges

Check with your local library to see if they are running a Beanstack challenge in honor of AAPI Month. These challenges offer a fantastic opportunity to explore a diverse array of books by AAPI authors and illustrators. Engaging in Beanstack reading challenges allows you to set reading targets and monitor your progress as you delve into AAPI literature.


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Explore AAPI Reading Lists

Need a few suggestions on what to read this month? These diverse AAPI reading lists cover a range of genres and age groups, catering to every reader’s preferences. Exploring these curated lists allows you to uncover hidden gems and new voices in literature. Whether you follow the provided lists or curate your own based on your interests, a world of AAPI stories is waiting to be discovered.

Listen to AAPI Authors Tell Their Own Stories

Delve deeper into the world of today’s acclaimed and beloved AAPI authors by tuning into The Reading Culture, a podcast hosted by Beanstack co-founder Jordan Lloyd Bookey. Each episode showcases these award-winning authors and includes a complimentary reading list curated by the authors themselves.

Engage in AAPI Cultural Activities

To immerse yourself in AAPI heritage, consider engaging in cultural activities that honor and celebrate AAPI traditions. You can try cooking traditional AAPI dishes, learning about different AAPI art forms, or practicing AAPI languages. Engaging in AAPI cultural activities provides a new and exciting experience and deepens your appreciation for AAPI culture. These activities can be done individually or with friends and family to foster community and appreciation. Not sure where to start? Here are a few ideas:

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Celebrate AAPI Heritage Month With Community Events

Many communities organize events and celebrations during AAPI Heritage Month. These events may include art exhibitions, performances, film screenings, and panel discussions that showcase AAPI contributions. Attending community events provides an opportunity to learn from AAPI artists, authors, and activists. By participating in these events, you can support the AAPI community and join them in celebrating their heritage.

Keep Reading!

While the spotlight shines on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in May, we urge you to continue exploring books, embracing reading challenges, and participating in enriching activities throughout the entire year!

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