On the heels of its successful Kidlit Against Anti-AAPI Racism Fundraiser, which raised more than $53,000 to fight anti-AAPI racism this past February, Asian Authors Alliance has announced its second annual AAPI Book Month. The slate of virtual events featuring Asian American and Pacific Islander children’s book creators will kick off in May, which the United States designates as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and will be streamed via YouTube and Instagram Live.
Assembled last year by author Kat Cho, AAPI Book Month 2020 was introduced in response to the pandemic, which made most in-person book events obsolete for the foreseeable future. Cho posted in the Asian Author Alliance Facebook group requesting participants, and more than 50 bestselling and award-winning authors ended up partaking in the range of digital programming, which included Instagram takeovers, YouTube panels, and a watch party for Alice Wu’s The Half of It coordinated through Twitter. Author Gail D. Villanueva served as tech admin and webmaster, roles she continues in, with author Van Hoang taking over this year as panel and event coordinator.
This year, Asian Author Alliance requested that its members pitch their own panels, with the Alliance coordinating schedules and overseeing tech for livestreams. Highlights from the 2021 programming include a conversation titled “Diversity in YA 10 Year Anniversary,” featuring Malinda Lo and Cindy Pon in conversation vis-à-vis their Diversity in YA site and their work as trailblazers for diverse stories over the last decade. Another panel will examine mental health in the Asian American community with Sona Charaipotra, Kelly Loy Gilbert, I.W. Gregorio, and Naomi Kanakia, and another discussion will present Korean American authors Kat Cho, Maurene Goo, Lyla Lee, Stephan Lee, and Axie Oh in “K-Pop in YA,” talking about their K-Pop novels for teens.
Asian Authors Alliance found it especially important to continue AAPI Book Month this year considering the exponential rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans since the start of the pandemic. “It’s important for us to draw attention to the reality of anti-AAPI racism that threatens our communities,” Cho told PW. “But it’s just as important to allow ourselves to celebrate our identity and the stories born from it. We have faced tragedy lately, but we are more than our pain. We hope that everyone can join us in uplifting AAPI voices and stories together.”