May is Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month!
Over 60% of the world’s population, about 4.3 billion people, identify as someone of Asian or Pacific Islander heritage. And here in the United States, 22 million Asian Americans can trace their roots to more than 20 countries in East and Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent, each with unique histories, cultures, languages and other characteristics.
That means AAPI Heritage Month provides a lot of culture to explore.
This month, Boys & Girls Clubs are celebrating AAPI heritage by learning more about the diversity of AAPI cultures. After all, we believe that when young people learn about other people’s cultures, they grow their curiosity, perspective and respect for others.
Below are some fun ideas to join the young person in your life in learning more about Asian American and Pacific Islander cultures, traditions and contributions.
Make a kid-friendly AAPI reading list.
Reading is one of the best ways to experience life in someone else’s shoes, including understanding their values and perspective. Check out this list of 60 children’s books to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month and pick a few new reads for you and your kid to check out in May.
Cook up something delicious.
Cooking together is not only a great bonding experience with your child, it’s also a time to broaden their worldviews through flavors and food preparation from around the world. This list of Asian and Pacific Islander recipes to try as a family spans from Hawaiian kalua pork to noodle dishes from Vietnam to fish curry from Fiji. Your young person can have a flavorful new experience (we can’t imagine anyone saying no to a Malaysian sweet potato doughnut) while also getting dinner on the table for the family.
Be a poet and know it.
Most of us have heard of the form of Japanese poetry known as haiku, but did you know that Asia is home to many unique poetic forms – from the syair to the twin cinema? Grow your young person’s love of language by learning about these poetic forms and practicing writing one together.
Our friends over at Panda Express have fun and free downloadable arts and crafts projects like these Chinese shadow puppets and more as part of their Panda Cub Club. While you’re readying your shadow puppets, learn more about this ancient art and check out gorgeous photos of Chinese shadow puppets throughout history.
Discuss and practice cultural awareness and empathy.
In addition to your AAPI celebrations and activities, it’s also an important opportunity to talk about the experiences of AAPI people with your kid, especially as anti-Asian hate crimes and harassment have been on the rise over the past few years. Understanding and inclusion are needed now more than ever, so consider starting an age-appropriate dialogue to help youth better understand these events and how their AAPI peers might be feeling, ask questions and voice their thoughts, and consider ways they can be an advocate, an ally and friend.
Learn more about Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
Post adapted from the Club Experience blog, a blog for youth professionals at Boys & Girls Clubs.
Monday–Friday: *10:30 a.m.–3:00 p.m.
*Breakfast will be served from 10:30–11:00 a.m.
Monday–Friday: 3:00–7:00 p.m.