Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month began as a week of observance due to a bill passed in 1978. It was expanded to a month in 1990. The month of May was chosen because the first Japanese immigrated to the United States in May 1843. The transcontinental railroad was also completed in May 1869, due in large part to Chinese workers.
This post is only a starting point. It references three nations out of many which are part of the Asian/Pacific region.
Red Is a Dragon contains rhyming text that names objects of several colors. The narrator is a young Chinese American girl who encounters everything from taxis and rubber boots to silk fans, chopsticks, and jade bracelets. The text is simple enough for very young listeners to enjoy, but there are also plenty of topics to explore in further discussion or activities. Also check out Round Is a Mooncake and One Is a Drummer by the same author and illustrator. All three books contain a very short glossary at the end to explain words or cultural notes.
Discuss pictures of Chinese porcelains. (Talk about color, shape, uses, what pieces you like the best.)
The Origami Master tells the story of an older man who lives alone with his origami. A bird watches him folding paper, makes better origami, and leaves it for the man. He catches the bird to learns its secrets, but things do not go according to his plan. The book contains instructions for folding an origami bird.
Maya and the Turtle is a story passed down from the author’s grandmother. The main character’s mother dies but promises her spirit will always watch over Maya. Later, Maya adopts a turtle. When her father grows ill, Maya decides to sacrifice herself to a giant centipede because the villagers will pay her lots of money for volunteering. With this money, she buys food and medicine for her father. When maya sets off to face the centipede, her turtle follows and saves her. News of Maya’s bravery spreads, and she catches the attention of the Emperor’s son. They are married and live happily ever after, as fairy tale princesses do. The end of the book explains several cultural elements that relate to the story.
Red Is a Dragon: A Book of Colors/Roseanne Thong; illustrated by Grace Lin. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2001. ISBN 9781452134192.
Round Is a Mooncake: A Book of Shapes/Roseanne Thong; illustrated by Grace Lin. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2000. ISBN 9781452132891.
One Is a Drummer: A Book of Numbers/Roseanne Thong; illustrated by Grace Lin. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2004. ISBN 9781452134147.
The Origami Master/Nathaniel Lachenmeyer; illustrated by Aki Sogabe. Morton Grove, IL: Albert Whitman, 2008. ISBN 9780807561348.
Maya and the Turtle: A Korean Fairy Tale/Soma Han and John C. Stickler; illustrated by Soma Han. Tokyo: Tuttle Publishing, 2012. ISBN 9781462910281.