Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. This month offers an opportunity to explore the stories and perspectives of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Princeton Public Library has programming and content on AAPI heritage 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. 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 at the Library
On May 2, the library will host a virtual panel on Zoom featuring members of Make Us Visible NJ where they will give an update about the implementation of New Jersey’s AAPI curriculum mandate and tips on educational advocacy. Click here to register.
Bring the entire family to the library on May 5 as we welcome Princeton’s competitive bhangra dance team to the community room for a performance followed by a chance to dance along during this interactive program. More information at this link.
On May 6, youth ages 8 and up are invited to register for a workshop where they will learn about the ancient dye-making techniques used by Kalamkari, Phad, Madhubani and other Indian folk artists and have the opportunity to create a cloth painting of their own.
Join us on May 23 for an informative session that will explore the influences and contributions of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in U.S. History from the 19th through mid-20th centuries. The in-person program will be facilitated by Marianne De Padua, assistant manager of professional learning at the New-York Historical Society. Learn more here.
Master calligrapher Michael Shiue will talk about his art and demonstrate calligraphy techniques in the Community Room followed by a reception and tour of his exhibit on the second floor on the evening of May 25. Full details at this link.
Then on May 27, Michael Shiue will return to the library to lead two hands-on classes that explore the art of calligraphy. The morning session is for kids ages 10 and over and the afternoon session is designed for high school students and adults. All materials will be supplied and registration is required for both. Click here to register for the kids class and click here to sign up for the afternoon session.
On May 27, we will screen the award-winning 1987 documentary “Who Killed Vincent Chin” which will be followed by a Q&A with filmmaker Christine Choy. For further information about the event, follow this link.
In addition to programs planned specifically for AAPI Heritage Month, families may also wish to take part in one of our World Language Storytimes. Japanese Stories will be held on May 20 and Bilingual Urdu Stories on May 21 in our 3rd floor storyroom. Little Panda Storytime, in Mandarin Chinese, will be held virtually on our YouTube channel on May 24. This month is also a great opportunity to visit the library’s Virtual Story Room as staff celebrate and share books created by AAPI 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:
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.