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. Broadening access to more diverse children’s books is a great place to start.
6 AAPI 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:
6 AAPI 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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