10 Asian American Movies and Shows to Watch with Kids This May
May is Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. Turn family movie nights into a learning opportunity with these AAPI movies and shows on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and more.
The Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, just like many other immigrant groups in the U.S., has been instrumental in the growth and success of our country. This diverse group includes people with origins in the continent of Asia and the Pacific Islands, including Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. In 1992, President George W. Bush designated May as Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month to recognize the community's many contributions to American history, and every year since, the start of spring has brought with it a diverse celebration of AAPI cultures.
It's imperative that we educate our children about the beauty and importance of AAPI cultures not only during the month of May, but all year long. Sharing our heritage helps build inclusivity and fosters empathy for many generations to come.
Wondering where to start? Teach kids more about our AAPI peers right from home with these Asian American movies and shows that tell rich Asian American and Pacific Islander stories in fun and exciting ways.
Mighty Little Bheem
The star of this show, Bheem, is a mighty little mischievous toddler who goes on adventures across a fictional Indian village. This interpretive storytelling show explores Indian holidays and community events. Mighty Little Bheem is non-verbal which makes it universal and fosters young imaginations learning about India. (Rated Y)
Mira, Royal Detective
This show is inspired by Indian culture and customs and includes beautiful choreography by Nakul Dev Mahajan. It follows Mira, a brave and resourceful girl who acts as detective in the fictional Indian city of Jalpur. Mira, Royal Detective is peppered with Hindi phrases such as "chalo chalo" which translates to "let's go!" and mongeese Chikku and Mikku add lots of laughs. (Rated Y)
Available to watch on Disney Junior
The stars of this movie, Pili and Ioane, are siblings from Brooklyn who go back to Hawaii with their mother to discover their heritage. Finding 'Ohana touches on AAPI family values and traditions, while also showcasing the immigrant experience and cultural identity. The movie also weaves in pop culture references and common teenage struggles. (Rated PG)
This classic Disney movie stars Moana, a fearless girl who listens to her heart and embarks on a journey of self discovery to save her island in Polynesia. The movie explains many unique aspects of Pacific Islander culture—Demigod, sacrifices, and traditional roles in society to list a few. And did we mention the music? Get ready to fall in love. (Rated PG)
Available to watch on Disney
Over the Moon
In this children's movie, a girl named Fei Fei makes it her mission to build a rocket so she can meet the Moon Goddess, Chang-e. Over the Moon paints a picture of a beautiful Chinese city with exquisite details of gondolas, paper lanterns, and mooncakes. Through Chinese folklore, the movie deals with a child experiencing a loss of a parent. (Rated PG)
Raya and The Last Dragon
Raya is a warrior princess who sets off to find the mysterious "last dragon" to save her divided land in this animated Disney movie. With strong mythological influences from Southeast Asia, Raya and The Last Dragon presents exquisite details of AAPI culture and lifestyle. The movie also deals with universal feelings of trust, bravery, and forgiveness. (Rated PG)
Sitara: Let Girls Dream
In this silent short film, Pari, a 14-year-old girl living in 1970s Pakistan, dreams to be a pilot. Sitara: Let Girl's Dream is an AAPI story with a strong message: "Around the world every year, the dreams of 12 million child brides will never take flight." The story ends with a sense of hope as the father sends Pari's younger sister to school to become a pilot. (Rated PG)
Crazy Rich Asians
Crazy Rich Asians, a movie based on a global best-selling book, is the first American movie since 1993's Joy Luck Club with an all Asian cast. The romantic comedy follow Nick Young and his girlfriend Rachel Chu from New York to Singapore to attend a friend's wedding and meet family. The film showcases the cultural gap between AAPI generations while empathizing with the feeling of being excluded in both your homeland and immigrant country. (Rated PG-13)
Available to watch on Amazon Prime
Never Have I Ever
This coming-of-age comedy series co-created by Mindy Kaling tells the story of a young first generation AAPI girl named Devi who is coming to terms with her Indian American identity. This series deals with the struggles of fitting in, family dynamics, sexuality, and immigrant experiences all at the same time. (Rated PG-13)
Parvana is an 11-year-old girl who lives in Kabul, Afghanistan. With her father unjustly jailed by Taliban, Parvana cuts her hair and disguises herself as a boy to provide for her family, thus becoming "The Breadwinner." This touching tale showcases courage, perseverance, and the power of hope that carries us through dark times. (Rated PG-13)
Available to watch on Amazon Prime