Celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month this May

By Inaara S. RSS Mon, May 1, 2023

Celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month this May! Also sometimes known as Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, it first began during the 1970s with a week-long celebration, and eventually got extended into a full month.

May is historically important to the heritage of the millions of Asian and Pacific Americans in the United States, commemorating the arrival of the first Japanese person, a 14-year old boy named Manjiro, to the United States on May 7, 1843, and the completion of the first transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869, by a majority of Chinese immigrants.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month celebrates the history and culture of Asian and Pacific Americans who come from the continent of Asia, as well as the Pacific islands of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. By some estimates, there are nearly 26 million people who identify as Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander in the United States, and also account for a little over 8 percent of the city of Philadelphia’s population.

This month is a time for Philadelphians throughout the city to celebrate and appreciate the cultures, cuisines, languages, traditions, and histories of Asian and Pacific Americans. There’re also loads of ways that you can celebrate with the Free Library!

  • There is so much to find within the Free Library’s catalog! With numerous books and films created by and focusing on Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander heritage. You can also browse this book list with recommendations about Asian American children’s books.
  • Check out the Free Library’s numerous book lists, helping you explore Asian American heritage with recommended books for teens, books about Asian cultural traditions and celebrations, famous Asian Americans, and the history of Asians in the United States.
  • You can also browse the various links that the Free Library’s expert Librarians have compiled about Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and local resources for Asian Americans.
  • If you’re interested in learning more about Asian American history, then visit the Free Library’s Explore page for the Asian American topic to find numerous more resources available to you.
  • Check out the 2023 selections of One Book, One Philadelphia, with the featured selection of Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu, and the companion books which include the middle grade selection of American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, and the children’s selection of Drawn Together written by Minh Lê and illustrated by Dan Santat. You can also find a whole host of One Book events on the Free Library’s web page.
  • The Author Events series has interviewed so many incredible Asian and Pacific American authors in the past. This blog article shares a select number of these previous conversations, and you can also check out the Author Events podcasts page for a full list of all previous Author Events.
  • Go through the Free Library’s incredible collection of databases to continue your journey of learning more about Asian and Pacific American history, heritage, and culture. You can find books, films, newspapers, and so much more!

You can find many different ways to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month with the Free Library. Whether you’d like to spend time with friends and loved ones, or build new relationships in your communities, join the Free Library in commemorating this joyous month of honoring Asian and Pacific American heritage!

Have a question for Free Library staff? Please submit it to our Ask a Librarian page and receive a response within two business days.

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