Boston Public Library Celebrates Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

BPL celebrates Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with new booklist, special events, and highlighted Special Collections items

BOSTON, April 30, 2024 - To honor Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, the Boston Public Library (BPL) is releasing its Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month booklist, a booklist of recent titles commemorating the diversity of the Asian American and Pacific Islander experience and highlighting these cultures' representation in print. Celebrated annually in May, AAPI Heritage Month honors and explores the influence and legacy of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States. The BPL will also observe AAPI Heritage Month by hosting special events for all ages across branches and by highlighting notable items in the BPL collections.

The Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month booklist, featuring selected books written either by Asian American and Pacific Islander authors or about Asian American and Pacific Islander history and culture, is compiled by staff librarians from the Brighton, Chinatown, Fields Corner, and Roslindale branches, along with staff from the Central Library in Copley Square. The 75 titles comprising the Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month booklist highlight selections for adults, teenagers, and children by authors such as Grace Lin, Fae Myenne Ng, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Paisley Rekdal, and Dan Santat. Genres from this collection include fiction, nonfiction, memoirs, expressions, and poetry.

Each book on the list contains a synopsis and is accompanied by an image of the book cover as well as classification information. In addition to print books, select titles are available as eBooks or audiobooks.

Along with the booklist, the BPL will celebrate AAPI Heritage Month with author talks and lectures, performing arts events, film screenings, book group discussions, arts and crafts workshops, and more. The full list of programs can be found at Highlights include:

  • Documentary Club: The Donut King | May 7, Mattapan | A documentary film that tells the rags-to-riches story of Ted Ngoy, a Cambodian refugee arriving in America in 1975 and building a multi-million-dollar empire baking America’s favorite pastry – the donut.
  • Japanese Flower Arranging: An Ikebana Introduction | May 9, Hyde Park | A workshop on the rich tradition of Ikebana, a 600-year-old Japanese art form whose name loosely means "making flowers come alive." Dive into the essence of Ikebana, renowned for its minimalist aesthetic and reverence for natural beauty and learn to craft your own stunning arrangement.
  • Gund Kwok Women's Lion & Dragon Dance | May 11 and May 18, Faneuil and Hyde Park | Gund Kwok, the first Asian Women's Lion & Dragon Dance Troupe in the United States, showcases a special performance of lion and dragon dances.
  • Storytime: A Visit with Molly Bang | May 11, Fields Corner | Award-winning illustrator and author Molly Bang reads her two folktales from Bangladesh and shares illustrations she made of life in villages when she lived there.
  • Bilingual Tales: A Vietnamese Storytelling Event | May 18, Fields Corner| Presented with Boston Little Saigon, this storytime will feature Vietnamese and English bilingual tales along with crafts and other fun activities.
  • Chinese Cooking Class: Spring Rolls | May 23, Parker Hill | This hands-on workshop, led by chef Karen Jou, will explore how to make delicious spring rolls. 
  • Friday Films: Lucky Grandma (2020) | May 24, Parker Hill | A screening of the film Lucky Grandma, in which an ornery, chain-smoking Chinese grandma goes all in at the casino, landing herself on the wrong side of luck - and in the middle of a gang war.
  • Traditional Filipino Dancing with the Philippine Dance and Culture Organization (PDCO) | May 25, West Roxbury| A performance of Philippine folk dances from different regions in the Philippines. In between dances, simple and basic dance steps will be taught to the children.
  • Hyde Park Book Club: The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai | May 30, Hyde Park | The book club will discuss The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai, a multigenerational tale of the Trần family, set against the backdrop of the Việtnam WarVivid, gripping, and steeped in the language and traditions of Việtnam, this 2020 novel brings to life the human costs of this conflict from the point of view of the Vietnamese people themselves, while showing readers the true power of kindness and hope.

Additionally, BPL's Special Collections department welcomes patrons to a hands-on experience in the Special Collections reading room. The Special Collections Sampler for AAPI Heritage Month will allow patrons to explore notable objects from the BPL's collections highlighting Asian American and Pacific Islander authors' and creators' contributions to society.

Items highlighted and celebrated include photographs by Japanese conceptual artist Kenji Nakahashi; a 1923 letter from poet Yoné Noguchi, the first Japanese writer to publish poetry in English; One Cent Life, a 1964 art portfolio featuring the poems of Chinese American poet Walasse Ting; and a stick chart from the Marshall Islands, used by Marshallese navigators to encode locations as islands, currents, and ocean swells. 

Patrons can delve deeper into the history of these objects at a Special Collections open house, to be held on May 21 from 2-4 p.m. in the Special Collections reading room at the Central Library in Copley Square. Special Collections staff will be available to answer questions as visitors explore these items up close. For those unable to attend the open house, the items will be available throughout the month of May for use in the Special Collections reading room, Wednesday - Friday, 9:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., with no appointment necessary. Other distinguished pieces from the BPL collection depicting AAPI history, culture, and achievements will be featured on the BPL's social media platforms during AAPI Heritage Month.

Physical copies of the Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month booklist will be available at all BPL locations starting May 1, 2024; it can also be accessed digitally. In addition, the booklist and information about AAPI Heritage Month programs will also appear on the BPL website at and on the BPL social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram).

Patrons can view many years' worth of prior affinity booklists, such as those from Black History Month, LGBTQ+ Pride Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, and Native American Heritage Month in an online archive.



Established in 1848, the Boston Public Library is a pioneer of public library service in America. It was the first large, free municipal library in the United States; the first public library to lend books; the first to have a branch library; and the first to have a children’s room. 

The Boston Public Library of today is a robust system that includes the Central Library in Copley Square, 25 neighborhood branches, the Norman B. Leventhal Map and Education Center, the Kirstein Business Library and Innovation Center, and an archival center, offering public access to world-class special collections of rare books, manuscripts, photographs, and prints, along with rich digital content and online services. 

The Boston Public Library serves nearly 4 million visitors per year and millions more online. All of its programs and exhibitions are free to all and open to the public. The Boston Public Library is a department of the City of Boston, under the leadership of Mayor Michelle Wu. To learn more, visit