May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. It’s a time to celebrate the history, culture and contributions of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the US. Interestingly, May was chosen as the month for this commemoration to mark the immigration of the first Japanese to the US on May 7, 1843 and to mark the completion of the transcontinental railroad (the tracks were built mostly by Chinese immigrants) on May 10, 1869.1
For me, it’s a time to celebrate my Chinese culture and ancestry as well as pay tribute to my Hawaiian roots. And now that I have three boys, it’s a special time for me to pass on special customs and traditions to them. We love to celebrate Boys Day – a traditional Japanese holiday that celebrates boys with fun activities and crafts such as flying koi kites and making origami. We also eat a ton of Asian food – more than usual – to commemorate our Chinese ancestry. Dumplings are always a favorite in our house – as well as seaweed and sesame balls.
In addition, I’ve always made it a point to buy new books about Asian or Pacific Islander culture every May to add to our library. A few favorites are Dim Sum for Everyone, Goodnight Gecko and D is for Dragon Dance.
This year we were lucky to receive a couple of books thanks to Lee & Low Books, a family-owned, independent children’s book publisher. What I really love about Lee & Low Books is that their main goal is to find stories that children of color can identify with and enjoy. Growing up, there were few books that had Asians or Pacific Islanders in them – I can only think of Claudia Kishi from The Babysitters Club back in the 80s. Lee & Low Books is helping to change that.
One of the books we received was Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story by Paula Yoo. The book is about Anna May Wong, the first Chinese-American movie star. The story follows Wong’s childhood living in Los Angeles and her love for movies – eventually becoming the first Asian-American actress with international recognition.
I enjoyed reading this book to my kids to show them how different times were just a few decades ago. I want them to think about the struggles and challenges others had to overcome due to the skin color – including their Chinese-born grandmother and me to some extent.
The other book we received from Lee & Low Books was Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji by F. Zia. It’s a story about Dada-ji – now a grandfather who recalls his days as a boy in India to his grandson Aneel. It’s filled with adventurous stories of Dada-ji as a boy who could wrangle wild cobras and and shake mangoes off trees – fueled by the power of hot, hot roti. It’s such a cute interaction between grandson and grandfather while weaving the sights and sounds (and culinary delights) of India.
Check out Lee & Low Books for more titles – including multi-ethnic, African and African-American, Native American, Latino and Hispanic and Middle Eastern books.
One reader will receive a copy of Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story and Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji from Lee & Low Books. Total retail value is $39.90. Enter using Rafflecopter below.
Disclaimer: Don’t Mess with Mama is not responsible for shipping prize to winner, but I will make every effort to ensure the sponsor sends out the prize
Disclosure: I received copies of these books to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated. All opinions are my own.
Book cover images credit: Lee & Low Books.
Feature image credit: stockbroker / 123RF Stock Photo.
1. Asian Pacific Heritage Month, Library of CongressPAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.
AMAZON DISCLOSURE: The owner of this website is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon properties including, but not limited to, amazon.com, endless.com, myhabit.com, smallparts.com, or amazonwireless.com.