Celebrate Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month
Mary Ellen Icaza
CEO & Executive Director
Growing up in the 70s and 80s, I yearned to read a book featuring an Asian main character that looked like me, but those types of books were not readily available back then.
It’s only in recent years that there has been an explosion of diverse voices in publishing, thanks to the hard work of organizations like We Need Diverse Books.
This organization’s mission is to put more books featuring diverse characters into the hands of all children, and their vision is a world in which all children can see themselves in the pages of a book.
Several weeks ago, I went to the Main Library with my daughter, and she showed me the books that she had picked out to borrow. First, I am thrilled that she has become a reader, but I was delighted that she selected Amina’s Voice, a book featuring a Pakistani-American girl, by Hena Khan. What pleased me was that she had picked this book out on her own and that it was an ordinary occurrence for her to find a book on the shelf with an Asian American main character. Books should be mirrors and windows for all of us – allowing us to see ourselves in the book, while also allowing us to see others in our world in the book.
“Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange. These windows are also sliding glass doors, and readers have only to walk through in imagination to become part of whatever world has been created or recreated by the author. When lighting conditions are just right, however, a window can also be a mirror. Literature transforms human experience and reflects it back to us, and in that reflection we can see our own lives and experiences as part of a larger human experience. Reading, then, becomes a means of self-affirmation, and readers often seek their mirrors in books.”
― Rudine Sims Bishop
I invite you to read more about the Asian American and Pacific Islander experience, whether that book is a mirror or window for you. The booklist below celebrates the rich and varied cultural heritage of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
- Mary Ellen Icaza
CEO & Executive Director of Stark Library
All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung
Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets and Advice for Living Your Best Life by Ali Wong
Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong
Young Adult Nonfiction
They Called Us Enemy by George Takei
Young Adult Fiction