Exploring Asian American and Native Hawaiian / Pacific Islander Heritage Month
May is Asian American and Native Hawaiian / Pacific Islander Heritage Month. This month offers an opportunity to explore the stories and perspectives of Asian and Native Hawaiian / Pacific Islander Americans (AANHPI). The Princeton Public Library aims to include such topics in programming and content throughout the year, and this month serves as a chance to focus our efforts.
In 1978, the U.S. Congress passed, and President Jimmy Carter signed, a resolution designating an Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week in May. Presidents renewed the week annually over the next decade. Congress expanded the observance from a week to a month in 1990, before passing a law in 1992 designating a permanent annual Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month. President Joe Biden changed the name of the month to Asian American and Native Hawaiian / Pacific Islander Heritage Month starting with his 2021 proclamation. May was selected for two reasons: to commemorate the first known arrival of Japanese immigrants in the United States and to mark the completion of the transcontinental railroad by a workforce consisting of many immigrants from China.
This heritage month highlights a broad and diverse group, with members including “all of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia (New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomon Islands), Micronesia (Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and the Federated States of Micronesia) and Polynesia (New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Easter Island).”
Programs | Learn | Educator Resources
Programs at the Library
On May 12, the library will host a virtual panel featuring members of Make Us Visible NJ, a coalition of students, parents, educators, and community members, discussing their successful effort to mandate teaching AANHPI history in New Jersey’s public schools. Click here to register.
On Fridays in May at 6:30 p.m., the library will screen movies as part of a film series in observance of AANHPI Month. The films will be presented in person in the library’s Community Room, and no registration is required. Click below to learn more:
- May 6: “Minari,” tells the story of a Korean-American family that moves to an Arkansas farm in search of their own American Dream. Rated PG-13. 1 hour, 56 minutes.
- May 13: In, “India Sweets and Spices,” a college student who moves home for the summer and stumbles upon deceptions from her parents’ past that force her to reconsider her life amid her traditionalist Indian family. Rated PG-13. 1 hour, 41 minutes.
- May 20: “Yellow Rose,” set in rural Texas, follows a Filipino teen who longs to make her mark on the world of country music. Rated PG-13. 1 hour, 34 minutes.
- May 27: In “Beneath the Banyan Tree,” after her son is jailed, a Chinese mother struggles to protect her family’s reputation and her son’s children while seeking shelter in the U.S. with her adult daughter. Rated R. 1 hour, 33 minutes.
Join the library’s Virtual Story Room as staff celebrate and share books created by AANHPI authors and illustrators.
Learn about Asian and Pacific American Heritage and History
See below for lists of nonfiction and fiction, geared toward adult readers and centered around the experiences and perspectives of members of the AANHPI community.
For teens, kids, and the youngest readers, below are lists of books that highlight varied narratives and perspectives of those with AANHPI heritage.
Online resources include:
- Federal Asian Pacific American Council
- Stories from PBS
- The Smithsonian’s Asian Pacific American Center
- Films on Kanopy (available to library cardholders)
Resources for Educators
See the materials below for potential starting points for engaging learners. You’ll find lesson plans, digital tools, curricula, and more.
- Teacher resources collected by federal cultural agencies
- Educator resources from the Smithsonian’s Asian Pacific American Center
- Toolkit and professional development resources from Learning for Justice
- Resources from the Anti-Defamation League
- Teacher’s guide from Studies Weekly
- Resources from the National Education Association
- Collected resources from Facing History and Ourselves
Content made possible with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.