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Teaching Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage

May Is Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
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Published: April 20, 2021 Last Updated: March 20, 2023

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have contributed to politics, military, medicine, aviation, entertainment, and sports in the United States. To help celebrate and educate about these contributions, we offer the following list of resources. Educators should be mindful of cultural appropriation when teaching about other cultures and understand that students of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage may experience lessons differently than other students.

Asian and Pacific Islander Literature Resources

crop of the cover of Amy Wu and Warm Welcome book

Asian American and Pacific Islander Recommended Books

Stories that celebrate major figures and the lives of everyday men, women, and children of Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander heritage.
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The May Book Project

The Very Asian Foundation partnered with We Need Diverse Books to help schools and libraries build robust Asian American youth literature collections for all readers. Find curated booklists, rubrics to evaluate AAPI youth literature, and a toolkit.
collage of author Wendy Shang and two book covers

Representation Matters with Author Wendy Wan-Long Shang

Wendy Wan-Long Shang, author of The Secret Battle of Evan Pao and The Great Wall of Lucy Wu, discusses her work and the importance of diverse literature in this School Me Podcast episode.

History of AAPI Heritage Month

AAPI Heritage Month originated in June 1977 when Representatives Frank Horton (New York) and Norman Y. Mineta (California) called for the establishment of Asian/Pacific Heritage Week. Hawaii senators Daniel Inouye and Spark Matsunaga introduced a similar bill in the Senate. Both bills passed, and in 1978 President Jimmy Carter signed the resolution. In 1990, President George H. W. Bush expanded the celebration from a week to a month. Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is celebrated to commemorate the arrival in May 1843 of the first Japanese immigrants to the United States.

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