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Bellingham Public Library Celebrates AAPI Heritage Month

The Bellingham Public Library celebrates Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with books, films and more, that feature AAPI authors, characters, and experiences. Library staff have great recommendations and lists to get you started!

Asian American and Pacific Islander Books for Adults

Looking for an AAPI focused cookbook? We’ve got those, as well as poetry, biographies, fiction, graphic novels, manga and anime, and much more! Library staff are happy to help you find what you’re looking for on our shelves or from another location.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Experiences Book List

Library Staff Recommends:

A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

“A tender exploration of identity and belonging in a family story that spans the globe between India to America.” – Suzanne, Public Services Librarian  

The Loneliest Americans by Jay Caspian Kang

“Both relatable and brutally honest, The Loneliest Americans is a firsthand account of the racism, cultural expectations, and real-world experiences of Asian Americans.  Through the lens of his own family’s experiences, Jay Caspian Kang traces the worlds of two separate Asian Americas and the existential loneliness of a massive demographic caught inside a world of constructed racial binaries.”   – Rob, Public Services Librarian

Black Water Sister by Zen Cho

“An unusual and bitingly humorous ghost story about a young Asian American woman who is called back to Malaysia and is ensnared in a struggle between the living and the unquiet dead.” – Siena, Library Assistant

AAPI Books for Teens

Check out this great list of YA materials featuring Asian American and Pacific Islander authors or characters!

AAPI Selections for Young Adults

Library Staff Recommends:

Butterfly Yellow by Thanhha Lai

“This month, in honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, the library’s ‘Read the World Teen Book Group’ will discuss Butterfly Yellow by Thanhha Lai. This heartbreaking yet hopeful novel follows Hang, whose brother was taken on an orphan plane to the United States at the end of the Vietnam War. Six years later, Hang finally gets to America with the sole purpose of finding Linh. But American western films and raw determination have not prepared her for the obstacles in her path. This book is beautiful and full of relatable emotion.” – Jennifer, Teen Services Librarian

The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen

“A second generation teenager teaches his mother English through fairytales in this sumptuous and beautifully illustrated graphic novel.” – Siena, Library Assistant

AAPI Heritage Books for Children

So many great books to read and stories to hear! Visit the Children’s Department at the Bellingham Public Library to find these great titles and more.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Voices for Kids

Library Staff Recommends:

Maizy Chen’s Last Chance by Lisa Yee

“LA born Maizy Chen doesn’t think spending the summer in Last Chance, Minnesota will be fun. I mean, her mom grew up there and left the first opportunity she had. And she hasn’t seen her grandparents in forever. So why now? Do Oma and Opa really need that much help with their restaurant, the Golden Palace? Without any choice in the matter, Maizy begins a summer that ends up surprisingly fun, and yet heartbreaking and difficult as she learns the struggles of her family and other Chinese emigrants, experiences microaggressions herself as the only child of color in town, creating custom fortune cookies, learning poker and solving a mystery or two.” – Bethany, Deputy Library Director

The Way to Bea by Kat Yeh

“This character driven story features socially awkward seventh graders, Bea, who is obsessed with haikus and Ben, who is obsessed with labyrinths-not mazes. It’s a story with heart and humor.” – Mandee, Children’s Specialist

Recommended for ages 9 – 12

I Am Golden by Eva Chen and Sophie Diao

“A beautifully written and illustrated story celebrating Chinese American pride and joy. How wonderful that my children and myself can see ourselves reflected in books!” – Bernice, Children’s Librarian

Recommended for ages 4 – 8

Drawn Together by Minh Le

“Not all Americans speak English. This heartwarming and imaginative story shows the connection an elder and their grandchild make when they learn that their language barrier can be transcended by their love of drawing.” – Siena, Library Assistant

Love in the Library by Maggie Takuda-Hall

“Based on a true story, this easy-to-read book discusses how Japanese Americans were brutally detained in incarceration camps during WWII. Despite such horrific circumstances, the camp’s library was able to bring two individuals together through their love for books.” – Kian, Library Assistant

When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller

“Moving from California to Washington to live with your eccentric grandmother felt odd to Lily. But things get complicated fast when her grandma’s stories, that she always passed off as Korean folklore, start proving a little too true. Ideal for readers ages 9 and up that can handle sad stories.” – Jeff, Public Services Clerk

Recommended for ages 9 – 12

Films and Documentaries Featuring AAPI Stories

The Bellingham Public Library has a great selection of films to choose from, and also provides access for you to stream films from Kanopy! To find eFilms and eDocumentaries, use your library card to sign up with Kanopy, the Library’s source for free online videos. Access them on your computer, mobile device or TV.

Kanopy has many films related to the AAPI experience. To explore these titles, visit Kanopy Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month selections.

If Hindi language films pique your interest, Kanopy has those too. Here is your link to the fabulous and colorful world of Indian song, dance, and cinema!

Library Staff Recommends:

Minari directed by Lee Isaac Chung

“A familial drama about an Asian immigrant family trying to make a home for themselves in 1980s Arkansas. Beautiful, brilliant, and surprisingly humorous.” – Siena, Library Assistant

The Friendship Garden at the Bellingham Public Library: a gift that delights the senses

Tucked into the west corner of the Bellingham Public Library grounds (alongside Grand Avenue) is a small, but lovely, Japanese inspired garden; a gift to the people of Bellingham from Tateyama, Japan – the oldest of our sister cities. The garden has many appearances, depending on the time of year, but is always a lovely place to sit and contemplate. The Bellingham Sister Cities Association is currently making plans to improve this tranquil spot, and you can read more about the project and the history of the Friendship Garden by clicking on the link below.

History of The Friendship Garden and our connection to Tateyama

The Arch of Healing and Reconciliation: an acknowledgement of our history and a step toward a better future for all

The Arch of Healing and Reconciliation on the corner of Lottie and Commercial Streets was installed in April of 2018 to recognize and honor immigrant communities in Whatcom County and to acknowledge shameful periods in our local history when many immigrants were persecuted or forced out by anti-immigrant and racist sentiment.

Read more about the Arch of Healing and Recognition

Local Events in May

Beloved and bestselling author Amy Tan will speak at the Mount Baker Theatre on Sunday, May 8, 2022. Tickets are available at the Mount Baker Theatre website.

Bellingham Public Library has numerous titles by Amy Tan available in our collection including: The Bonesetter’s Daughter, The Valley of Amazement, The Kitchen God’s Wife, The Joy Luck Club, Saving Fish From Drowning, Where the Past Begins, The Hundred Secret Senses, The Opposite of Fate, The Moon Lady.

The Library also has DVDs of the The Joy Luck Club movie and Amy Tan: Unintended Memoir.

The Cascadia International Women’s Film Festival is certainly not limited to works by AAPI filmmakers, but does feature numerous films that are related. The festival will take place in person, in Bellingham May 12 – 15th, and online May 19th – 30th!

Visit the Cascadia International Women’s Film Festival website for more information about films and showtimes

Film As Activism: A Panel Discussion Hosted by CASCADIA International Women’s Film Festival

Filmmaking can be a powerful tool for education, enlightenment, and advocacy. Stories told on screen are especially effective at winning hearts and opening minds, which can spur audiences to action.

The event is free and open to the public. The discussion begins at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, May 14 at the Whatcom Museum in the Rotunda Room (121 Prospect St., Bellingham).

• Mehrnoush Alia/Director: “Faranak” and co-founder of MAAA Art
• Jazmin Bryant /Director: “71 Seconds”
• Polly Pierson / Director: “Slump”
• Lara Deglan /Writer/Actor: “Slump”
Panelists will explore what it is about this medium that makes it suited not only to entertain and inform but to inspire viewers and be a catalyst for change.
• Claudia Puig, CASCADIA Program Director