Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month for Kids

What can kids learn during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month?

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Asian American and Pacific islander heritage month for kids

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is a time to celebrate the rich cultures, histories, and contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. It’s an opportunity to educate children about the diverse tapestry of these communities and instill in them values of respect, empathy, and inclusivity.

Dive into our collection of resources you can use in class or at home.

Table of Contents

When is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month?

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is observed annually in May in the USA.

What is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month?

Dating back to 1978, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month commemorates the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants to the United States and recognizes the vital role that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have played in shaping the nation’s history and culture.

Why is it important for kids to learn about Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage?

Teaching children about Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage is crucial for fostering a sense of cultural awareness and appreciation from a young age.

It helps them understand and respect the diversity within their communities and beyond, promoting a more inclusive society.

Fun facts about Asian American and Pacific Islander cultures

Here are 10 fun facts about Asian American and Pacific Islander cultures:

  1. Did you know that the Hawaiian word “aloha” means both “hello” and “goodbye,” as well as “love” and “affection”?
  2. In Japan and in China, it’s considered polite to slurp your noodles loudly while eating, as it shows appreciation for the food’s flavor and temperature.
  3. The Philippines is home to the world’s oldest and smallest mammal, the Philippine tarsier, which is about the size of a human fist.
  4. In South Korea, people celebrate “Seollal,” the Lunar New Year, by wearing traditional hanbok clothing and performing ancestral rites.
  5. Vietnam is famous for its delicious cuisine, with dishes like pho (noodle soup), banh mi (sandwiches), and fresh spring rolls being popular worldwide.

Māori All Blacks perform their traditional haka dance against Ireland
  1. The Maori people of New Zealand have a traditional dance called the haka, which is performed to express emotions like pride, challenge, or celebration.
  2. In India, the national animal is the Bengal tiger, which symbolizes strength, courage, and power in Indian culture and mythology.
  3. The Chinese New Year celebrations last for 15 days, featuring dragon dances, fireworks, and traditional family gatherings to welcome the new year.
  4. In Samoa, the traditional tattoo art form known as “tatau” is a symbol of cultural identity and pride, often representing important life events and social status.
  5. The Thai people celebrate the annual water festival called “Songkran,” where streets turn into giant water fights to symbolize washing away the past year’s bad luck and welcoming the new year with fresh beginnings.

Exploring these fascinating tidbits can spark curiosity and engagement in kids.

Activities for kids to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

From creating origami artwork to cooking traditional Asian dishes, there are countless ways for kids to celebrate this heritage month. They can also embark on virtual tours of cultural landmarks or read books that highlight Asian American and Pacific Islander experiences.


Origami Workshop

Host a hands-on origami workshop where kids can learn to fold traditional Japanese paper art, such as cranes, flowers, or animals, promoting creativity while exploring Japanese culture.


Cultural Cooking Class

Cooking Class for kids

Invite children to participate in a cooking class featuring dishes from various Asian American and Pacific Islander cultures.

From sushi rolls to spring rolls, let them explore flavors and ingredients while learning about culinary traditions.


Storytelling Circle

Organize a storytelling circle where kids can listen to and share stories inspired by Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage.

Encourage them to read books featuring diverse characters and cultures, fostering empathy and understanding through storytelling.

Famous Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

Inspire kids by sharing stories of trailblazers like astronaut Ellison Onizuka, who became the first Asian American to reach space, or author Amy Tan, whose novels explore the complexities of Asian American identity.

Here are 16 famous Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders explained in a way that kids would understand:


Bruce Lee

(1940-1973, Asian American)
was a martial artist and actor known for his incredible skills in karate and kung fu.
He starred in movies where he showcased his talents, inspiring people around the world.

Bruce Lee 1971


Yao Ming

(1980, Pacific Islander)
is a retired basketball player from China. He was famous for his towering height and exceptional basketball skills, playing for the Houston Rockets in the NBA.


Daniel Dae Kim

(1968, Asian American)
is an actor known for his roles in TV shows like “Lost” and “Hawaii Five-0.” He’s admired for his acting talent and contributions to the entertainment industry.


Grace Lee Boggs

(1915-2015, Asian American)
was a writer, philosopher, and activist known for her work in the civil rights movement. She advocated for equality and social justice throughout her life.

Castilibrary8, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Yuri Kochiyama

(1921-2014, Asian American)
was a Japanese American activist known for her involvement in various social justice causes, including civil rights and Asian American rights. She was a vocal advocate for marginalized communities.


Daniel Inouye

(1924-2012, Pacific Islander)
was a highly respected politician and war hero. He served as a United States Senator from Hawaii and was a Medal of Honor recipient for his bravery during World War II.


Ellison Onizuka

(1946-1986, Asian American/Pacific Islander)
was from Hawaii and he was the first Asian American astronaut to fly into space, inspiring people with his dedication to exploration and discovery.


Yo-Yo Ma

(1955, Asian American)
is a world-renowned cellist known for his virtuosity and passion for music.

By Joi Ito, CC BY 2.0, File link


Amy Tan

(1952, Asian American)
is a famous author who writes books full of exciting adventures and important lessons about family and culture.


Dwayne Johnson

(1972, Pacific Islander)
also known as The Rock, is famous for being a strong and brave actor who stars in action-packed movies where he saves the day with his muscles and courage.

By Matt Brink – IMG_0433, CC BY-SA 2.0


Ann Curry

(1956, Asian American)
is famous for being a kind and smart journalist who tells important stories on TV and helps people understand what’s happening in the world.

22 June 2022; Ann Curry, Journalist, on Fourth Estate Stage during day two of Collision 2022 at Enercare Centre in Toronto, Canada. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Collision via Sportsfile – By Collision Conf – PO1_4171, CC BY 2.0


George Takei

(1937, Asian American)
is famous for playing a brave and wise character named Mr. Sulu in a TV show about exploring space and meeting aliens.


Kalpana Chawla

(1961-2003, Asian American)
was a very smart and brave astronaut who flew in a special spaceship called a space shuttle and explored outer space.

By NASA (1, 2), Public Domain


Jason Momoa

(1979, Pacific Islander)
is famous for playing a strong and powerful superhero named Aquaman who can talk to sea creatures and save the ocean from bad guys.

By Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, USA –
Jason Momoa, CC BY-SA 2.0, File link


Mindy Kaling

(1979, Asian American)
is famous for being a funny and talented actress who makes people laugh on TV shows and in movies with her jokes and stories.


Dr. Mabel Ping-Hua Lee

(1896-1966, Asian American)
is famous for being a brave leader who fought for the rights of girls and women to vote and have a voice in their country’s decisions.

By Bain News Service, publisher – Library of Congress Catalog | Image download, Public Domain

These role models showcase the diversity of talents and accomplishments within these communities.

Kids Music to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Dive into the vibrant sounds of Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage with this curated selection of kids’ music, designed to celebrate cultural diversity and foster appreciation for traditional and contemporary musical expressions.

10 children’s books for Asian American and Pacific islander heritage month

Introducing children to books that celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is a wonderful way to foster cultural understanding and appreciation from a young age.

Dive into these 10 captivating children’s books, each offering valuable insights into the diverse cultures and rich histories of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.

  1. “Grandfather’s Journey” by Allen Say – This beautifully illustrated picture book tells the story of a Japanese man who immigrates to America and feels torn between two countries.
  2. “Drawn Together” by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat – Through stunning artwork, this book explores the language barrier between a young boy and his grandfather, bridging the gap through their shared love of art.
  3. “Eyes That Kiss in the Corners” by Joanna Ho, illustrated by Dung Ho – A lyrical and empowering story about a young Asian girl who learns to appreciate her unique features and heritage.
  4. “Islandborn” by Junot Díaz, illustrated by Leo Espinosa – In this imaginative tale, a young girl named Lola learns about her Caribbean heritage by interviewing her neighbors and family members.
  5. “Malala’s Magic Pencil” by Malala Yousafzai, illustrated by Kerascoët – Based on the Nobel Peace Prize winner’s childhood, this book follows Malala’s dream of using her magic pencil to create a better world.
  6. “Sumo Joe” by Mia Wenjen, illustrated by Nat Iwata – Follow the adventures of Sumo Joe, a young boy who loves sumo wrestling, as he teaches his friends about Japanese culture and traditions.
  7. “Bilal Cooks Daal” by Aisha Saeed, illustrated by Anoosha Syed – Join Bilal and his friends as they prepare daal, a traditional South Asian dish, in this heartwarming story about friendship and sharing.
  8. “A Different Pond” by Bao Phi, illustrated by Thi Bui – Set in Minnesota, this poignant story follows a young Vietnamese boy and his father as they go fishing early in the morning, reflecting on their family’s immigrant experience.
  9. “Dumpling Soup” by Jama Kim Rattigan, illustrated by Lillian Hsu-Flanders – Celebrate Korean culture and family traditions in this delightful story about making mandu (dumplings) for New Year’s Day.
  10. “Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist” by Jess Keating, illustrated by Marta Álvarez Miguéns – Discover the inspiring true story of Eugenie Clark, a pioneering marine biologist of Japanese and German descent, who defied stereotypes and pursued her passion for sharks.

These books offer diverse perspectives and engaging stories that celebrate the rich heritage of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, making them perfect reads for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and beyond.

Celebrating diversity and promoting inclusion

Encourage children to embrace differences and treat others with kindness and respect, regardless of their backgrounds. By fostering an inclusive mindset, we can create a more harmonious and understanding society for future generations.


As we commemorate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, let’s celebrate the vibrant cultures and remarkable achievements of these communities. Through education, appreciation, and advocacy, we can ensure that every child grows up in a world that values diversity and embraces cultural heritage.

Additional resources

Explore these resources to continue learning about Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage:

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