The month of May is AAPI Heritage Month — a time to pay tribute to the Asians and Pacific Islanders who have enriched America’s history and continue to work towards a brighter future. It’s also a time to learn about AAPI cultures and histories, while exploring the deep divide and injustices that these communities continue to face.
The current wave of pandemic-era hate crimes committed against Asians Americans echoes a longstanding history of exclusion, and invisibility within America. For many Asians, erasure is a common concern. Standard curriculum lacks information about the Asian American experience, and downplays our peoples’ contributions to American society. In April of 2021, the Illinois House of Representatives passed a bill to mandate Asian American history in public elementary and high schools – if passed by the senate, Illinois will be the first state with such requirements. It’s a nice start, but we still have a long way to go.
As moms, we can work towards educating our children, and changing the mindset in our own homes. AAPI Heritage Month Broadening access to more diverse children’s books is a great place to start.
AAPI Heritage month: books to add to your Child’s home library:
- The Name Jar, by Yangsook Choi (reading age 3-7)
- Bee-Bim Bap, by Linda Sue Park (reading age 4-7)
- Eyes That Kiss in the Corners, by Joanna Ho (reading age 4-8)
- The Wishing Tree, by Roseanne Thong (reading age 5-8)
- A Different Pond, by Bao Phi (reading age 6-8)
- Ruby’s Wish, by Shirin Yim Bridges (reading age 8-12)
While updating the kids’ bookshelves, see if yours could use a little refresh, as well! If you’re lacking titles by AAPI authors, here are a few to check-out:
AAPI Heritage Month: six books to add to your home library:
- Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning, by Kathy Park Hong (Biography/Memoir)
- The Making of Asian America, by Erika Lee (History)
- On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, by Ocean Vuong (Novel)
- Family in Six Tones: A Refugee Mother, an American Daughter, by Lan Cao
- Interior Chinatown, by Charles Yu (Novel)
- A Place For Us, by Fatima Farheen Mirza (Novel)
Reading our stories and celebrating our unique voices are great steps toward inclusion, acceptance, and understanding. I also encourage you to be an ally – to intervene if you see an Asian elder being harassed or attacked, to call-out racist jokes or statements, and most importantly to report any violence against your fellow citizens. Stop AAPIhate.org is tracking racially-motivated incidents against Asian Americans, and provides updated reports + resources. Please continue to stand with us.
Oh God, I pray that I may bear a cross
To set my people free,
That I may help to take good-will across
An understanding sea.
Oh, God, I pray that someday every race
May stand on equal plane
And prejudice will find no dwelling place
In a peace that all may gain.
Written in 1945 by Mary Matsuzawa, a Japanese youth held in an Arizona internment camp.
Lahna Son-Cundy lives in Newport, RI with her husband and two kids.
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