AAPI heritage

It’s AAPI Month: These movies/TV shows celebrate Asian-American and Pacific Island heritage and culture

Photo above by Glenn Carstens-Peters via Unsplash.

Across Asia and the islands of the Pacific, you’ll find a vast diversity of cultures and customs. Some are shared across broad regions, a few are brought to other countries, and others are unique to small communities and provinces.

In celebration of AAPI Heritage Month, we’ve gathered some of the best movies and TV shows that spotlight the many traditions and values of Asian, Asian-American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) peoples. We know that media plays an important role in the development of kids’ ethnic-racial identities, which is why it’s crucial for them to see their experiences and realities in what they watch.

Watch these excellent picks together as a family to honor and celebrate the heritage of AANHPI communities, both in their native countries and beyond. Then consider our curations that explore the stories of victory and resilience of AANHPI peoples.


Ni Hao, Kai-lan, age 3+ 

Cultural content, good messages make show a hit. Network: Nickelodeon (2007)

Mighty Little Bheem, age 4+ 

Toddler’s cute adventures show off Indian culture. Network: Netflix (2019)

Mira, Royal Detective, age 4+ 

Clever girl’s adventures celebrate Indian culture. Network: Disney Junior (2020)

Sagwa the Chinese Siamese Cat, age 4+ 

Wonderful series based on Amy Tan’s kids’ book. Network: PBS (2001)

An American Girl Story — Ivy & Julie 1976: A Happy Balance, age 8+ 

Chinese-American tween embraces heritage in sweet story. Network: Amazon Prime Video (2017)

Family Style, age 10+ 

Reality series brings together Asian cooking and community. Network: HBO Max (2019)

Young Rock, age 10+ 

Positive, absorbing story of wrestling family, star. Network: NBC (2021)

Recipe for Change, age 13+ 

Food and talk celebrate AAPI culture; has strong themes. Network: YouTube (2021)

Indian Matchmaking, age 13+ 

Bingeable dating show raises questions about class, culture. Network: Netflix (2020)

Never Have I Ever, age 14+ 

Drinking, language, sex talk in fresh, charming teen series. Network: Netflix (2020)

Take Out with Lisa Ling, age 14+ 

Great docu explores Asian-American culinary contributions. Network: HBO Max (2022)

The Big Day, age 15+ 

Modern Indian wedding docu shows lavish events, drinking. Network: Netflix (2021)

House of Ho, age 16+ 

Lavish living and hard work featured in family reality show. Network: HBO Max (2020)

Mismatched, age 16+ 

Fun Indian romcom has lots of cursing, smoking, innuendo. Network: Netflix (2020)


Lilo and Stitchage 5+ 

Cute story, great characters, fabulous soundtrack. On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2002)

Moanaage 6+ 

Great characters, memorable music, some monsters/scares. On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2016)

Over the Moon, age 6+ 

Dreamy, China-set musical fairy tale has positive lessons. On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2020)

Abominable, age 8+ 

Funny, heartwarming adventure has some peril, scares. On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2019)

Wish Dragon, age 8+ 

China-set animated comedy has great messages, some scares. On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2021)

Finding ‘Ohana, age 9+ 

Fun Hawaii adventure celebrates culture; peril, language. On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2021)

From Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China, age 9+ 

Violin virtuoso’s trip to China will open eyes and ears. On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2001)

Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, age 9+ 

World-renowned animators interpret classic Lebanese poetry. On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2015)

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, age 9+ 

Beautifully animated Japanese folktale for older kids. On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2014)

Wadjda, age 9+ 

Beautiful, nuanced tale of an independent Saudi girl. On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2013)

A Perfect Fit, age 10+ 

Soapy Indonesian love story has some violence. On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2021)

Turning Red, age 10+ 

Pixar coming-of-age tale explores puberty and parent issues. On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2022)

The Farewell, age 11+ 

Awkwafina shines in excellent dramedy about family, culture. On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2019)

Jiro Dreams of Sushi, age 11+ 

Subtitled docu about sushi chef inspires and enlightens. On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2012)

Only Yesterday, age 11+ 

Classic Studio Ghibli drama focuses on Japanese girlhood. On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 1991)

Whale Rider, age 11+ 

Excellent, gorgeous drama with uplifting messages. On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2003)

Meet the Patels, age 12+ 

Indian culture explored in romcom/documentary blend. On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2014)

Blinded by the Light, age 13+ 

Charming comedy celebrates family ties and The Boss. On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2019)

The Claudia Kishi Club, age 13+ 

Documentary for fans of Baby-Sitter’s Club character; language. On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2020)

Columbus, age 13+ 

Quiet, talky character drama has exceptional performances. On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2017)

Crazy Rich Asians, age 13+ 

Messages, role models stand out in culture-clash romcom. On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2018)

Miss Hokusai, age 13+ 

Historical Japanese character study has mature content. On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2016)

More Than Miyagi: The Pat Morita Story, age 13+ 

Intimate, honest biography addresses racism, alcoholism. On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2021)

Hala, age 15+ 

Poetic coming-of-age tale tackles religion, youth with care. On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2019)

Mogul Mowgli, age 15+ 

British rap drama has cursing and questions about identity. On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2021)

Monsoon Wedding, age 15+ 

Poignant Indian tale of family, love, and culture. On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2002)

Persepolis, age 15+ 

Animated coming-of-age tale is poignant, mature. On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2007)

Don’t miss these additional guides from Common Sense Media: Powerful Stories of Asian Immigrant Families and Books Inspired by Asian Folklore and Mythology