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Parenting is hard enough — but as an Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) parent, it brings upon its own unique concerns and issues. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic with anti-Asian racism on the rise, working while juggling kids stuck at home for virtual school, and trying to help our kids adjust to the new normal, we parents need all the help we can get! Here is a quick list of parenting resources for all ages that might help during this season.
Books featuring Asian American characters
Whether it is through books, graphic novels, shows, movies, entertainers, or as leaders in various industries, media featuring APIDA characters help our kids see what is possible. Our children are not locked into what society expects of them. Their stories and experiences matter — and there’s proof because the stories are being told. Here are some books featuring APIDA leads.
1. “Measuring Up” written by Lily LaMotte, illustrated by Ann Xu
A middle-grade graphic novel geared toward children 8 years or older, this story follows 12-year-old Cici as she experiences teasing and othering after immigrating to Seattle from Taiwan. In particular, her classmates mock her Taiwanese foods, and Cici begins to try and assimilate by adopting what she considers American food. When she joins a cooking contest to raise money for her grandmother’s plane ticket to visit, Cici not only discovers the racism surrounding her family’s foods, she also learns to navigate her multiple identities. For more information, read our Mochi magazine review of “Measuring Up.”
2. “A Place to Belong” written by Cynthia Kadohata, illustrated by Julie Kuo
Written for grades 5 and up, “A Place to Belong” follows 12-year-old Hanako, her 5-year-old brother, and her American-born parents as they renounce their U.S. citizenship after World War II and expatriate to Japan after being imprisoned in internment camps for four years.
“My kids (ages 6, 13, 18, 18) found the book comforting because it is a compassionate journey and a story about the ‘No-Nos’ after the internment camps,” parent of unschoolers LaLa Miyamoto told us. “It’s a topic that is rarely discussed. Kadohata’s beautiful story teaches us that there is good out there and we can all find our place to belong.”
3. “You Bring the Distant Near” by Mitali Perkins
This award-winning young adult novel tells the story of one Indian American immigrant family across three consecutive generations of women in alternating teen voices. Discussing Indian identity, loss, inheritance, interracial romance, and activism, Mitali Perkins creates a beautifully relatable story for readers of all backgrounds.
Education kits for kids of all ages
There’s nothing an Asian American parent loves more than education masquerading as fun. (Let’s be real; every parent loves this and anyone who claims otherwise is lying.) Here are a few APIDA-owned businesses that specialize in delivering knowledge and fun in a box every month.
4. Tinker the Robot
Created by engineer Kay Yang and her husband, Tinker the Robot kits are all-inclusive homeschooling kits focused on science and engineering. “My 10-year-old loves building the kits from Tinker the Robot,” homeschooling mom Jean Hong told Mochi magazine, “and Kay always answers emails personally if we have questions.”
5. Kiwi Crate
Founded by Sandra Oh Lin, Yael Pasternak Valek, and Yu Pan, Kiwi Crate offers monthly science- and art-focused projects for all ages (from as young as a newborn to a child at heart). You can choose from a variety of lines for your child (or yourself) and watch as they become inspired.
Other resources for Asian American families
As much as we might wish for parenting to only require toys and entertainment, alas, that is not true. There are a host of other issues that are important, such as mental health, our own family histories, APIDA history — both in the United States as well as in the countries from which our ancestors hail — and how the intersection of our identities and our histories may emerge in politics. Here are some suggestions for parents who would like to dig deeper or access some resources both for themselves and their children.
6. Mochi magazine Activism and Politics columns
Did you know that Mochi magazine has several columns that discuss both current events and big issues? If you’re just getting started in learning about the issues or need a way for you or your children to have an easy entry point, check out our numerous articles in our Activism and Politics columns. They’re just the right length to get a quick overview and general understanding without getting overwhelmed.
7. Asian American Toolkit
The Asian American Toolkit is an incredibly detailed and all-encompassing primer on the history of Asian Americans, white supremacy, and anti-Blackness. It unpacks many of the issues affecting Asian Americans, such as the Model Minority Myth and the intersectionality of race, class, gender, religion, and immigration within an APIDA context.
Although some of the terms are now outdated since its creation in 2016, this hefty (and free) toolkit is a fantastic resource for parents and educators alike. The organization offers workshop modules and additional resources if you want more training. The toolkit would be great for older children to work through with their parents or parents to work through on their own and pass onto their younger children.
8. Asian Mental Health Project
As many of us know from personal experience, mental health in APIDA communities is notoriously stigmatized. The Asian Mental Health Project (AHMP) offers many resources for members of APIDA communities who are seeking help for themselves, their children, or other family members.
Not only does AHMP provide links and phone numbers for numerous mental health resources, they also offer an email template for contacting mental health professionals, links to find a therapist, as well as a blog that offers posts catered to the APIDA diaspora.
9. Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council
The Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council (A3PCON) is a community-based organization with deep roots in Los Angeles and Asian American history. According to their site, A3PCON particularly focuses on low-income, immigrant, refugee, and other disadvantaged sectors of the APIDA population and provides information in multiple languages.
Of note is their Stop AAPI Hate youth program which has created the amazingly accessible “They Blamed Me Because I am Asian: Findings from Youth-Reported Incidents of Anti-AAPI Hate.” Perfect for high school students or ambitious junior high students to study on their own, the report provides a brief overview of Asian American history, anti-Asian racism, and the impact of COVID-19 on anti-Asian racism. It’s also great for parents to neatly summarize for younger children.
Photo credit: Hisu Lee//Unsplash