Did you know that NYC is home to the second-highest population of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) in the United States? Much of the city’s vibrant art, food, and culture can be attributed to the AAPI community, which is why May — AAPI Heritage Month — is a perfect time to celebrate our neighbors that help make NYC such a special and culturally rich city.
What is AAPI Heritage Month?
AAPI Heritage Month celebrates the contributions and achievements of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States.
Asian/Pacific is a rather broad term, so those who aren’t familiar may be wondering exactly who the AAPI community refers to. Asian/Pacific encompasses all of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of:
- Melanesia (New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji, and the Solomon Islands)
- Micronesia (Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, and the Federated States of Micronesia)
- and Polynesia (New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia, and Easter Island)
AAPI Heritage Month History
In 1992, the month of May was designated by Congress as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843 — and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869, since the majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.
How to Celebrate AAPI Heritage Month 2023 with Kids
AAPI History Month 2023 is a great opportunity to help kids learn about different cultures and history through fun and enriching activities. Check out these family-friendly ideas to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month in NYC that are sure to keep kids engaged.
Free History Tours & Outdoor Events
Celebrate AAPI Heritage Month with the Urban Park Rangers of the NYC Parks Department. Enjoy free history tours and fun activities around the city throughout the entire month of May, including:
May 6, 2023 | Crotona Nature Center
Get the kids outside and tap into their creativity as they learn about AAPI heritage. Learn about Ginkgo trees and their significance in Asian culture and folklore, then end with creating your own Ginkgo-inspired craft!
May 14, 2023 | Van Cortlandt Nature Center
Learn how nature influences the art of Chinese calligraphy. Afterwards, kids can learn to write some words themselves.
May 21, 2023 | Seward Park
The Urban Park Rangers will guide you through Chinatown parks, highlighting significant events and commemorations. While they learn about the history of where you are, your kids can enjoy the fresh air and freedom of roaming various Chinatown parks. Plus, you’ll be in just the right area to grab some delicious Chinese food afterwards!
View the full details and schedule of events on the NYC Parks website.
Family-Friendly Offerings Through the New York Public Library
The New York Public Library offers suggested readings, panels, and other free events that are great for the whole family — from book discussions to arts and crafts, storytimes, and AAPI movie showings.
Here’s a sneak peek at some of the activities you and your kids can enjoy:
May 4, 2023 | Clason’s Point Library
Clason’s Point Library makes AAPI songs, rhymes, and book readings fun for the whole family with this event for children of all ages.
May 4, 2023 | West Farms Library
The release of Raya and the Last Dragon was a landmark moment in 2021 as it introduced Walt Disney Animation Studios’ first Southeast Asian princess. Head down to the West Farms Library with the family to gather with the community and enjoy the film! ASL interpretation and real-time (CART) captioning are available upon request.
May 6, 2023 | Macomb’s Bridge Library
Join Macomb’s Bridge Library to make Kumihimo (Japanese Yarn Braiding) — something that will surely keep your kids’ hands and minds busy while introducing them to a part of Japanese culture.
View the full details and schedule of events on the New York Public Library website.
NYC’s Asian Art Institutions & Museums
Check out NYC’s AAPI cultural institutions like Asia Society and Museum, the Rubin Museum of Art, and Japan Society to see what types of upcoming events and exhibitions they have in the works.
Stop by the Asia Society Museum in person to view groundbreaking exhibitions of traditional and contemporary Asian and Asian American art, or visit their Asia Society Kids website to explore Asian stories, educational games, art, and language lessons all from the comfort of home.
The Rubin Museum of Art is an engaging hub of creativity and knowledge that showcases the ideas, cultures, and art of the Himalayan regions. It’s a “dynamic environment that stimulates learning, promotes understanding, and inspires personal connections” to Himalayan culture.
Every Sunday, families are invited to afternoons of creativity and self-exploration in their new space, the Mandala Lab, which both kids and their grown-ups will enjoy. Stop by for free art-making workshops!
Japan Society has a rich education program available to students, which sparks interest in Japan through a suite of family, school, and educators programs. Visit for a school gallery tour in which students observe, discuss, and explore various Japanese art forms and their rich historical backgrounds. Or, sign up for an arts and culture workshop which introduces and connects students to the dynamic historical and contemporary culture of Japan.
Join Our Vibrant NYC Community at Manny Cantor Center
Being a part of the community at Manny Cantor Center means joining a diverse group of individuals who come together to connect, learn, and grow. Whether you’re looking for a place for your family to attend workshops, participate in arts and crafts, or meet new people, Manny Cantor Center offers a welcoming and inclusive space for all your family members — no matter their interests, goals, or ages.
From art exhibits and cultural events to social justice initiatives and community programming, there are opportunities at every corner here at Manny Cantor Center to create a diverse and inclusive community and introduce your kids to the many diverse cultures that create NYC’s vivaciousness.
Stay Up-to-Date on NYC Community Activities and Events
Be sure to check in at Manny Cantor Center to stay up-to-date on what your NYC community is up to. Meet new friends from diverse backgrounds and join in for enriching activities — from exercise and art school to college prep for teens. Plus, find and provide support through our Askwith Kenner Family Resource Center.
Happy AAPI Heritage Month! We hope to welcome you to Manny Cantor Center in the near future.