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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

We’ve got 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. Titles are also available as ebooks and audiobooks accessible on your personal device.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Experiences Book List

Titles Library Staff Recommend:

Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn

“Get swept up in the lives of the Flores family in Kawai Strong Washburn’s, ‘Sharks in the Time of Saviors’. This novel, set in both Hawai’i and the Mainland, explores identity, family ties, heartbreak, and healing. This novel might appeal if you enjoyed Celeste Ng’s ‘Little Fires Everywhere’, Louise Erdrich’s ‘The Round House’, or Brit Bennett’s ‘The Mothers’.” – Suzanne, Public Services Librarian

Into the Riverlands by Nghi Vo

“Inspired by Ancient Chinese history and folklore, this book richly illustrates how storytelling shapes, and is shaped, by society.” – Siena, Library Assistant

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, and other works by Ocean Vuong

“I’ll recommend the works of Ocean Vuong; I’d start with his debut novel ‘On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous‘ and then move on to his poetry, although that’s not the order in which they were published. The book is roughly biographical, and for me, adds context to his poetry. Kirkus calls his writing ‘raw and incandescent’, and it absolutely is.” – Liz, Public Services Librarian

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

“Looking for help practicing with sex and dating, Stella hires an escort named Michael to give her some lessons, and the two embark on the sweetest, fluffiest fake-dating romance I’ve ever read. It’s like if a Hallmark movie had a bunch of steamy sex scenes!” – Lorena, Library Assistant

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

“In this quick read, Murakami discusses two of his loves: writing and running. I recommend downloading the audiobook to your phone using the Libby app, putting on a comfy pair of shoes and enjoying our beautiful spring weather.” – James, Public Services Clerk


Tastes Like War by Grace Cho

“A beautifully written, highly personal account of the relationship between the author and her mother, a Korean immigrant to Chehalis, Washington who develops schizophrenia later in life. Grace Cho explores her mother’s life in depth, seeking clues as to what caused the onset of her mental illness, and shares the impact of it on her own life. She reflects on her mother’s relationship with food, how it connects her to her past, to her love for her family, as a tool to build relationships in her new community, and ultimately as an indicator of the severity of her illness.” – Jenni, Community Relations Specialist

Blame This on the Boogie by Rina Ayuyang

We Hereby Refuse by Frank Abe

“Some graphic novel recommendations for explorations of different AAPI experiences!” – Ariana, Public Services Clerk

AAPI Books for Teens

Check out this great list of Young Adult materials featuring Asian American and Pacific Islander authors or characters.

AAPI Selections for Young Adults

Teen Titles Library Staff Recommend:

Superman Smashes the Klan by Gene Luen Yang and illustrated by Gurihuru

“When Roberta and Tommy move with their family from Chinatown to the center of Metropolis (home of Superman!) they find their house surrounded by the Klan of the Fiery Kross. A deeply satisfying showdown that examines how we see ourselves, the lies of white supremacy, and how communities are strengthened by diversity. Be prepared to cheer out loud.” – Lorena, Public Services Clerk

Messy Roots by Laura Gao

Almost American Girl by Robin Ha

“Some graphic novel recommendations for explorations of different AAPI experiences!” – Ariana, Public Services Clerk

AAPI Heritage Books for Children

So many great books to read and stories to hear! Our staff have compiled two great lists of AAPI books to get you started. Visit the Children’s Department at the Bellingham Public Library to find these great titles and more.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Voices: Picturebooks

Asian American and Pacific Islander Voices

Children’s Titles Library Staff Recommend:

Once Upon a Book by Grace Lin and Kate Messner

“Intricate, whimsical illustrations perfectly capture the essence of what it feels like to wholeheartedly fall into a story. Readers will want to explore with Alice time and time again! This book is another treasure in Grace Lin’s award-winning oeuvre.” – Ali, Children’s Services Librarian

Recommended for ages 3 – 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

Recommended for ages 3 – 8

The Big Bath House by Kyo Maclear

“This beautifully illustrated story celebrates Japanese cultural traditions as a young girl visits a bath house with her grandmother and aunties.”” – Kian, Library Assistant

Recommended for ages 4 and up

The Paper Kingdom by Helena Ku Rhee

“An epic take your kid to work tale, this book gives us a beautifully illustrated look into the lives of the people who do the unseen work.” – Jeff, Public Services Clerk

Recommended for ages 5 – 8

Love in the Library by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

“This book is based on the true story of how the author’s grandparents met and fell in love in a library. Unfortunately, that library is in a WWII Japanese- American Internment camp.  I loved this beautifully illustrated picture book because it shows us that love can exist in the harshest, most horrible of circumstances.” – Lesley, Children’s Programming Specialist

Recommended for 6 and up

You Are Here: Connecting Flights by various authors and edited by Ellen Oh

“Each chapter features a new character and each chapter is written by a different Asian American author that brings together twelve kids at one airport. Their own experiences and perspectives are interwoven into this powerful story about identity, belonging, family, and friendship.” – Bernice, Children’s Services Librarian

Recommended for ages 8 – 12

Mihi Ever After by Tae Keller

“When Mihi and her two friends find themselves in a fairy tale world, they have to decide what they want more…to become princesses?…or to get back home?” – Mandee, Children’s Specialist

Recommended for ages 8 – 12

Jennifer Chan is Not Alone by Tae Keller

“12-year-old Mallory Moss is determined to find her place in middle school and has devised a set of rules to make sure she fits in. But when Jennifer Chan, her eccentric UFO-obsessed neighbor, disappears Mallory becomes determined to track her down and must come to terms with the school bullying that targeted Jennifer.” – Maggie, Public Services Clerk

Recommended for ages 10 and up

Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor by Xiran Jay Zhao

 “When the first emperor of China attempts to possess Zack, he ends up stuck in an AR gaming headset instead.  Together, the two of them must set out on a world-wide adventure, in order to rescue Zack’s mom from an old foe who’s after ultimate power.” – Lorena, Public Services Clerk

Recommended for upper elementary and middle school age

Films and Documentaries Featuring AAPI Stories

The Bellingham Public Library has a great selection of films to choose from, and also provides access 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.

Films Library Staff Recommend:

Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom directed by Pawo Choyning Dorji

“When a city teacher is assigned to a remote mountain village in Bhutan, he reevaluates what it is he really values in life. Charming and sincere, this movie is an excellent example of how much teachers can learn from their students.” – Siena, Library Assistant

The Joy Luck Club directed by Wayne Wang

“This faithful film adaptation of Amy Tan’s groundbreaking novel paints sweeping tales of Chinese immigrant mothers and their American daughters.  Not only was this a major film moment for the Asian American community, but one of the best ever films about struggles to understand self and family.” – Rob, Public Services Librarian

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.

Tateyama, Our Japanese Sister City

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

Katazome Today: Migrations of a Japanese Art at the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher Building

“In this exhibition seven national and international artists share fresh perspectives on katazome (a Japanese textile-dyeing process) through their current interpretations. They present a range of pictorial imagery, and non-traditional expressions such as large-scale installations and free-form painting techniques, relating katazome to themes of personal identity, shifting environments, and the globalization impacting the cultural landscapes of their home countries. The works preserve an endangered traditional technique while envisioning endless possibilities for dynamic cultural exchange.”

For more information about hours, location, and admission please click HERE

Celebrating APIDA Heritage (Asian, Pacific Islander, Desi American) Month at Western Washington University

“APIDA is a pan-ethnic classification that intentionally includes South Asians (Desi) as part of the community along with those in the community of East Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander heritage. APIDA represents a diverse community of more than 50 ethnic groups and includes all people of Asian, Asian American and Pacific Islander ancestry who trace their origins to the countries, states, jurisdictions and/or the diasporic communities of these geographic regions.

The APIDA Heritage Month Planning committee has coordinated a month of events that celebrates and honors APIDA communities, but also unpacks the label APIDA to allow for a deeper conversation and understanding of the many different cultures and ethnic groups included under the term APIDA.”

The Cascadia International Women’s Film Festival features films by women directors from round the globe. The festival takes place in person, in Bellingham May 4 – 7, and online May 11 – 21.

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

Pickford Film Center: Cinema East

“For over ten years, Pickford Film Center has been screening select choices from the vast and diverse landscape of Asian cinema. Co-presented by the Western Washington University Libraries and curated by Jeff Purdue, chosen films are often accompanied by introductions by educators and experts. From renowned icons Yasujirō Ozu and Edward Yang, to contemporary figures Hong Sang-soo and Jia Zhang-ke, Cinema East strives to provide a look into the wonderful world of Chinese, Taiwanese, Korean, and Japanese cinema.”

Seattle Art Museum and the Seattle Asian Art Museum

Both museums feature exhibits that spotlight AAPI artists and themes and are worth a visit in May, or any time of year.

For more information about hours, locations, and admission, click HERE

Joy Market at Jet City Improv

“Welcome to Joy Market! Where dating, fate and traditions are the key commodities and products. Joy Market is an Asian Comedy Show that dives into the lives of vendors. With the home setting a Market, players will use sketch and improv to create portals centered around AAPI voices and stories.”

For more information about hours, location, and admission, click HERE

Wing Luke Museum

“The Wing Luke Museum is an art and history museum in Seattle, Washington, United States, which focuses on the culture, art and history of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. It is located in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District. Established in 1967, the museum is a Smithsonian Institution affiliate and the only pan-Asian Pacific American community-based museum in the United States.”

For location, hours, and admission prices, click HERE


The Chardi Kala Project

Mei Hua Chinese School

Pork Filled Productions

The 1907 Bellingham Riots


Japanese American Citizens League

Korean American Coalition

The Sikh Coalition

Bookriot 10 Pacific Islander and Pasifika Authors You Should Know About

National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance

Asian Americans Advancing Justice

Asian Americans for Equality

Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund

Asian Mental Health Collective