Educational Resources for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month & Beyond

Cassandra Balbas bio picture Cassandra Balbas

This is part of an ongoing series about edTech industry shifts in at-home learning. You can read our related article, “Educational Resources for Talking to Your Kids About Race and Anti-Racism,” here.

As Asian Pacific American Heritage Month comes to an end, we wanted to share resources and stories that we’ve enjoyed throughout the month. These resources are dedicated to helping teachers, parents, and edTech product owners learn more about Asian-American history, read more work from Asian-American voices, and better understand our experience.

Below, you’ll find books, films, and curriculum guides for discussing the Asian-American experience in the classroom and in homes. We hope that integrating Asian-American history into the classroom extends past May and is adopted year-round. 

As a Filipino-American, I’ve discovered these resources from talking to members of my own communities. The term “Asian-American”—let alone the entire “Asian Pacific Islander” grouping—is a large umbrella with a complex history. For example, the Philippines alone has 120+ different dialects spoken throughout the country and an uncountable number of cultures among its 7,640 islands.  We’ve even long debated whether we are Asian, Pacific Islander, or our own ethnic group.

I acknowledge that most of these resources are from the Asian-American community rather than the Pacific Islander community. Any gaps you may notice are my own. We welcome any additional resources from our readers and will continue to add to this list as often as we can!

The recent rise in crimes against Asian-Americans has also sparked many conversations within the Asian-American community about racism. Seeing members of our community on TV as the targets of hate crimes is new and difficult to grasp. Many of us are used to feeling invisible and struggle with asking for help, which can still be seen as a sign of weakness. My friends and I have also talked about feeling guilty about taking attention away from other activist movements like Black Lives Matter. Below, you’ll also find resources that we’ve shared in our previous article about having conversations about racism with students and young children

To the Asian-American community, we feel you, we hear you, and we are with you as you continue to navigate these conversations and advocate for your safety.

On a personal note, I hope you are able to find solace in these stories, feel heard, and connect more with our culture. It’s been quite the experience navigating how to best handle everything going on. Many times, I wanted to brush it off to avoid feelings of shame. We are learning together, and I hope that if this is weighing heavily on your heart, too, that you’re able to find moments of self-compassion and joy on your journey. 

You are not alone, and you are enough.

Written by Cassandra Balbas

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Cassandra Balbas is passionate about designing tools that empower and support educators and students. While working at UC Irvine, she worked closely with students to create inclusive visual design, make student resources more accessible, improve mental and physical health, and foster a well-rounded university experience. In addition to working with college students, Cassandra has worked in product design, nonprofit design, and marketing. 

 

When she isn’t designing, you can find Cassandra roaming bookstores or prepping Etsy orders for her shop where she sells Fil-Am inspired stickers, “We Are Sun-Raised”. She also volunteers with the Asian Mental Health Project and is happy to discuss any questions you may have about the organization, upcoming projects, and its mission to end the stigma around mental health in the Asian-American community.

 

For Educators:

Curriculum and Lesson Plans from Asian Americans Advancing Justice 

Curated lesson plans to help teach Asian-American History.

 

Creating the Space to Talk About Race in Your School

A series of articles to help teachers create a safe space to have and encourage discussions around racism in their classroom.

 

Grades K-4:

Here are links to purchasing books from AAPI-owned bookstores, including Bel Canto, Arkipelago Books, and Philippine Expressions Bookshop.

 

Eyes That Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho

A beautiful picture book that navigates a young girl’s journey to embracing, loving, and celebrating her Asian features.

 

Superheroes are Everywhere by Kamala Harris

The Vice President shares stories from her life to inspire young children to take action and improve the world around them.

 

A Kids Book About… 

We love this series! They have books about Racism, Systemic Racism, Shame, Immigration, and Diversity, just to name a few. 

 

How to Teach Kids How to Talk About Taboo Topics

In this TED Talk from 4th-grade teacher Liz Kleinrock, the educator shares how she teaches kids to discuss difficult subjects without fear.

 

A Unit to Teach Kids About Microaggressions
This lesson plan will challenge your kids to identify microaggressions and stereotypes about Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (or, BIPOC), regardless of how harmless these comments may seem on the surface.

Grades 6-8:

PBS Special on Asian American History

This 6-part docuseries highlights Asian-American history through stories of resilience.

 

I Was Their American Dream by Malaka Gharib

Gharib, who is half-Egyptian and half-Filipino, speaks to the Asian-American experience and how she navigated the all too common question of “Where are you from?” 

 

Grades 9-12:

“Fe” by Bren Bataclan

This graphic memoir explores the dynamic and relationship between a young gay Filipino and his mother. It is so beautifully honest, and I love that the author discusses issues such as hoarding, which is common in immigrant families.

 

Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong

Chinese is synecdoche for Asians the way Kleenex is for tissues,” writes Hong in her searing essay collection about immigrant identity and the exploration of Asian-American consciousness. Her term “minor feelings” represent the shame, suspicion, and melancholy that she and other Asian Americans feel as they pursue “the American dream” of wealth and success, instead of feeling joy.

 

Good Talk by Mira Jacob

Novelist Jacob catalogs a series of pressing questions about identity from her young son in this moving graphic memoir. 

 

America is in the Heart by Carlos Bulosan

A heart-wrenching story about Filipino writer Carlos Bulosan’s journey from Binalonan to the US, as he strives for the American dream during the Great Depression.

 

The Making of Asian America by Erika Lee

Explores the history of Asian Americans.

 

The Farewell

This 2019 film from writer-director Lulu Wang chronicles a Chinese-American family as they navigate a tragic diagnosis.

 

Minari

A Korean-American father uproots his family to pursue the American dream in rural Arkansas in this Oscar-nominated film.

 

Organizations To Follow:

Stop AAPI Hate 

https://stopaapihate.org/
Twitter: @stopaapihate

 

Asian American Justice + Innovation Lab 

https://www.aajil.org/

Instagram: @AAJIL_org

 

Asian Mental Health Project

https://asianmentalhealthproject.com/

Instagram: @asianmentalhealthproject

 

Asian Mental Health Collective

https://www.asianmhc.org/
Instagram: @asianmentalhealthcollective

 

AAPI-Owned Businesses:

Bel Canto Books

https://belcantobooks.net/
Instagram: @belcantobooks

 

Arkipelago Books

https://www.arkipelagobooks.com/

Instagram: @arkipelagobooks

Eastwind Books

https://www.asiabookcenter.com/

Instagram: @eastwindbooks

 

Maomi Bookstore

https://www.maomibooks.com/

Instagram: @maomibookstore

 

Townie Books

https://towniebookscb.indielite.org/

Instagram: @towniebooks

 

27th Letter Books

https://www.27thletterbooks.com/

Instagram: @27thletterbooks

 

LibroFM

https://libro.fm/

Instagram: @librofm

 

A Good Used Book

https://agoodusedbook.com/

Instagram: @agoodusedbook

 

Femme Fire Books

https://femmefirebooks.com/

Instagram: @femmefirebooks

 

Giant Robot Store

https://www.giantrobot.com/

Instagram: @giantrobotstore

 

Waucoma Bookstore

https://www.waucomabookstore.com/

Instagram: @waucomabooks

 

Books and Bites

https://www.etsy.com/shop/BookmarksAndBites

Instagram: @booksandbitesroc

 

Other Resources We Love:

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

Anti-Asian Violence Resources

‘Model Minority Myth Again Used As A Racial Wedge Between Asians And Blacks

 

Other Action Items:

In addition to sharing age-appropriate resources with your kids or students, consider tackling other action items and activities, like:

 

  1. Supporting Asian Literature
    1. Request AAPI works for purchase consideration at your local library
    2. Add Asian Lit to your local Little Free Library
    3. Tell publishers how much you’ve enjoyed their published AAPI books and want more of these kinds of books
  2. Raising discussions around the Model Minority Myth.
  3. Initiating discussions with your child and asking them if they’ve seen or experienced moments of racism in their schools, friends, loved ones, or within themselves. Encourage them to share any moments when they believed they might have been racist too. Part of the process of becoming an ally is unlearning the unconscious biases we grew up with. Challenge your kids to set goals and expectations to help combat these thoughts. Speaking about racism should not be limited to marginalized communities.


Thank you for taking the time to use these digital resources to learn more about the Asian-American experience. I’m excited for you to enjoy them and thrilled that you’re interested in learning more about our story. 

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