In 1992, the month of May was designated as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, which is now known as Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. Given the recent rise in racist incidents and violent acts against Asians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders, it feels especially important to recognize and celebrate the achievements of AAPI this year. Since the Class of 2K21 Books is a group of debut MG and YA authors, I thought I’d highlight a few kidlit-related events that anyone can attend. I hope that you’ll consider attending some of these events, with your children or students as appropriate, to support and help amplify AAPI voices.
AAPI Book Month
Asian Author Alliance is hosting AAPI Book Month, where “AAPI authors and artists will come together for virtual panels and events throughout the month of May.” Panels range from Vietnamese authors sharing their experiences being refugees after the Vietnam War, to writing Asian American love stories, to debunking stereotypes of AAPI in YA fiction. Check out the schedule AAPI Book Month here: https://asianauthoralliance.com/asian-pacific-islander-american-book-month/. Also, the Asian Author Alliance provides a directory of Asian Kidlit Authors on their website to help anyone looking for AAPI authors to participate in events or for books by AAPI authors (https://asianauthoralliance.com/a3directory/).
Virtual Book Discussion: From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry
“Join Ms. Edith Campbell and Dr. Sarah Park Dahlen for a virtual book discussion of Paula Yoo’s groundbreaking YA nonfiction, From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry: The Killing of Vincent Chin and the Trial that Galvanized the Asian American Movement.” Monday, May 3, 2021 at 4 pm PDT/7 pm ET. For more information and to register: https://crazyquiltedi.blog/2021/04/21/virtual-book-discussion/.
The Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA): MOCAKIDS Events
MOCA is holding two events for children in May.
· MOCAKIDS Author Meet & Greet with Julie Leung, author of The Fearless Flights of Hazel Ying Lee. May 6, 2021 from 4-4:30 pm ET (https://www.mocanyc.org/event/mocakids-author-meet-greet-with-julie-leung/)
· MOCAKIDS Meet & Greet with Author Oliver Chin and Illustrator Juan Calle, creators of Awesome Asian Americans: 20 Stars Who Made America Amazing. May 20, 2021 from 4-4:45 pm ET (https://www.mocanyc.org/event/mocakids-meet-greet-with-author-oliver-chin-and-illustrator-juan-calle/)
Celebrating Asian Voices
Hosted by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), this event features six AAPI children’s book creators, including Julie Abe, Samira Ahmed, Mike Jung, Emily X.R. Pan, Dow Phumiruk, and Paula Yoo. They will “discuss the role their Asian or Pacific Islander identity plays in the writing and art they create as well as the importance of overcoming stereotypes and providing positive representation.” Happening on Thursday, May 20, from 1-2 pm PDT/4-5 pm ET. No registration necessary. For Zoom or Facebook links, go to https://www.scbwi.org/scbwi-celebrates-ownvoices/.
Bookstore and Library Storytimes and Events
Many bookstores and libraries have offered virtual storytimes and author events throughout the pandemic. I anticipate that they will be featuring AAPI books during AAPI Heritage Month, so check with your local (or distant!) indies and libraries. For example, I discovered that An Unlikely Story, a bookstore in Massachusetts, is offering events with AAPI kidlit creators such as Erin Entrada Kelly, Graci Kim, Jasmine Warga, and Olivia Abtahi during the month of May (https://www.anunlikelystory.com/event/2021-05)
Of course, one of the best ways to support AAPI authors and illustrators is to buy and read their books, not only in May but throughout the year! Many libraries and bloggers have compiled lists of books featuring AAPI main characters, many of which were also written and/or illustrated by AAPI creatives for whom this is their lived experience. Here are some lists to get you started on adding AAPI kidlit books to your To Be Read pile!
· San Francisco Public Library’s “AAPI Heritage Month 2021 Kid Picks” (https://sfpl.bibliocommons.com/list/share/378225037_sfpl_kids/1859510409_asian_american_pacific_islander_(aapi)_heritage_month_2021_kid_picks)
· The New York Times’ “Teach Your Kids to Resist Hatred Toward Asians” (https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/24/at-home/anti-asian-hate-books.html)
· Parents Magazine’s “15 Asian American Children’s Books to Read as a Family Right Now” (https://www.parents.com/fun/entertainment/books/asian-american-books-for-kids/)
· Book Riot’s “20 Children’s Books to Read by AAPI Writers and Illustrators” (https://bookriot.com/childrens-books-by-aapi-writers-and-illustrators/)
· Chicago Parent’s “30 AAPI Books for Kids of All Ages” (https://www.chicagoparent.com/education/at-home-learning/aapi-books-for-kids-of-all-ages/)
· Asian/Pacific American Librarians’ Association’s Literature Award Winners (https://www.apalaweb.org/awards/literature-awards/)
· The 21ders debut author group will be posting books by AAPI authors releasing in 2021 on their social media accounts. Follow them with the hashtag #the21ders.
· Colorful Pages’ “Diverse Books to Address Anti-AAPI Racism & Empower Our AAPI Community” (https://colorfulpages.org/2021/03/20/diverse-books-to-address-anti-aapi-racism-empower-our-aapi-community/)
Andrea Wang is the award-winning author of The Nian Monster and Magic Ramen. Her debut middle grade novel, The Many Meanings of Meilan, releases in 2021. Her work explores culture, creative thinking, and identity. Andrea holds an M.S. in Environmental Science and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing for Young People. She lives in Colorado with her family. Website: www.andreaywang.com Twitter: @AndreaYWang Instagram: @AndreaWhyWang