Watch, Read & Listen

20 Kids Movies That Celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage and Culture


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aapi kids movies"
aapi kids movies

As a member of the AAPI community, growing up in the ’90s, it was difficult to see yourself reflected in the content available. I think I might have been an adult before I saw a South Asian representation on a screen who wasn’t Apu from The Simpsons. Now, there are so many more wonderful AAPI kids movies out there featuring a diversity of characters parents can choose to watch with their children. Stories that empower and celebrate exactly who we are and what we are capable of. I’ve taken to watching them even without the kids because my inner child has been crying out for it this whole time.

While some are perfect for an unforgettable family movie night, others would be more suitable for big kids. Either way, there’s truly something for everyone on our list of our favorite AAPI kids movies you can share with your family.

AAPI Movies for the Whole Family

1. Moana

Where to Watch: Disney+ | Rating: PG

moana aapi kids movies
Source: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

This is one of my favorite Disney movies of all time. It’s stunning visually, but the story is also incredible. There is no prince here for the princess to fall in love with. It’s a story about a young woman who is on the precipice of leadership and realizes that she has to save her people, even if her father disagrees with her methods. Plus the songs are amazing and will have you bopping long after the credits roll. The best news yet is that Moana 2 is set to be released toward the end of this year!

2. Lilo & Stitch

Where to Watch: Disney+ | Rating: PG

lilo & stitch aapi kids movies
Source: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Lilo, a young lonely girl, adopts a rambunctious dog, Stitch—or so she thinks. He’s actually an alien experiment that’s escaped from his home planet. While Stitch overturns their lives, Lilo’s sister is at her wit’s end, trying to raise her sister as a single parent after their parents died. But when the aliens coming looking for him, Lilo reminds everyone that they are Hawaiian and Ohana means family, and family means no one gets left behind. This movie is so surprisingly lovely. It shows us that family can mean what we want it to mean and that not everything in life will be wrapped up in a bow.

3. Over the Moon

Where to Watch: Netflix | Rating: PG

over the moon aapi kids movies
Source: Netflix

Fei Fei is young when her mother passes away. But she has always loved the story of the Moon Goddess, Chang-e, and continues to share that bond with her mother long after she passes. As her father begins to open his life back up to the possibility of love, Fei Fei worries that her mother will be left out and decides she must build a rocket to the Chang-e and save her family unit. This movie shares Chinese folklore, and also shows how vulnerable we can all be on the precipice of big change.

4. Mulan

Where to Watch: Disney+ | Rating: G

mulan aapi kids movies
Source: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

When the imperial army calls up a man from each family, Mulan decides to step in for her injured father and join up, pretending to be a man. She finds herself in dangerous situations and constantly on the verge of being found out. But when she alone is able to uncover a plot to kill the emperor, she and her friends from the army step up and try to save China. This is a movie that has stayed with me from childhood. The songs are catchy, but more importantly, Mulan’s bravery and love for her family will stay with you for a lifetime. The live-action remake of Mulan is also available on Disney+

5. Ponyo

Where to Watch: Max or Amazon Prime Video | Rating: G

ponyo aapi kids movies
Source: Toho

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki, one of Japan’s greatest animation pioneers, this is the magical story of a little boy who is charmed by Ponyo, the goldfish princess. With earnest determination, he signs on to help her fulfill her wish of becoming human. However, attempting to be who you’re not is never easy, so can they find a way to make it work?

6. My Neighbor Totoro

Where to Watch: Max | Rating: G

my neighbor totoro aapi kids movies
Source: Toho

This is a great Japanese classic about two young girls whose mother is sick in the hospital. When they move to be closer to her, they meet the spirits that live in their new house and the surrounding forest. It’s a tale of friendship and how it can help us heal in times of trouble. It’s stunningly animated and a lovely reminder of how our littles are so resilient even in the face of life’s biggest hurdles.

7. Hanuman Da’ Damdaar

Where to Watch: Hulu Hotstar | Rating: G

Hanuman Da' Damdaar aapi kids movies
Source: RNB Films

This animated tale tells the story of how Hanuman came to be. If you are unfamiliar, Hanuman is a god in the Hindu religion. He is a fierce warrior and a helper to Lord Rama. But how did he become the adult we know and love? Through this movie, we see the trials and tribulations that Hanuman overcame to become the god that we love today. This movie is so cheeky and fun. It’s a great reminder that even the greatest warriors had humble beginnings and needed to find their way.

8. Raya and the Last Dragon

Where to Watch: Disney+ | Rating: PG

raya and the last dragon aapi kids movies
Source: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Raya’s people have been at war with each other since anyone can remember. In order to bring peace to her land, she embarks on a quest to find the last dragon. Along the way, she meets those who want to help her and those that want to stop her. I’ve been impressed how Disney appears to be moving away from love stories in kid’s movies, and instead focusing on young women’s quests to help their people. That’s an underlying message that we can all use.

9. Abominable

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video | Rating: PG

Abominable aapi kids movies
Source: Universal Pictures

In this heartwarming film and one of our favorite new AAPI kids movies, three teenagers unexpectedly encounter a friendly Yeti named Everest. Lost and alone, the group help him find his way home. They must venture through China to reunite him with his family, all while trying to escape from a greedy businessman and zoologist who want the Yeti for themselves. Added bonus: families can watch the show Abominable and the Invisible City on Hulu

10. Up

Where to Watch: Disney+ | Rating: PG

up aapi kids movies
Source: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

One of the most lovable characters in one of the most enjoyable movies there ever was is based on the appearance of young Peter Sohn, a Korean American director and animator at Pixar. Of course, we’re talking about Russell from the beloved movie Up. After Carl Fredericksen loses the love of his life before accomplishing their dream of traveling to South America, he sets out to take the adventure on his own. Instead of going the conventional route, the balloon salesman ties thousands of balloons to his house and heads south, home and all. Little does he know, a neighbor boy in the wilderness scouts, Russell, has tagged along as a stowaway. 

11. Turning Red

Where to Watch: Disney+ | Rating: PG

turning red aapi kids movies
Source: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Mei Lee wants to be the perfect daughter in her mother’s eyes, but she also wants to explore her youth and cultivate her self-interests. When the 13-year-old finds herself literally turning into a big red panda when she gets too excited, she finds new ways to attempt to honor her family as well as pursue her passions.

12. Finding Ohana

Where to Watch: Netflix | Rating: PG

finding ohana aapi kids movies
Source: Netflix

Ohana is the Hawaiian word for family, and it’s all encompassing—if you love someone like they’re your family, whether blood-related or not, they’re your ohana. Join adventurous siblings Pili and Ioane as they visit O’ahu, Hawaii to connect with their family roots, while making new friends and unforgettable memories along the way. Overall, the film does a really thoughtful job introducing native Hawaiian culture in a way that’s engaging and informative for kids.

13. Big Hero 6

Where to Watch: Disney+ | Rating: PG

big hero 6 aapi kids movies
Source: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

A boy with robotics genius joins forces with Baymax, an inflatable robot who provides healthcare, showing the world a whole new class of superheroes: high-tech ones. Hiro, the protagonist, is played by Ryan Potter, who is of Japanese descent and known for his debut role for Nickelodeon as leader of the Supah Ninjas. Fun fact, he’s actually a martial artist in real life, which kiddos might appreciate as they get familiar with his on-screen feats and charisma.

14. The Speed Cubers

Where to Watch: Netflix | Rating: TV-PG

the speed cubers aapi kids movies
Source: Netflix

If you’ve got a kid who can’t get enough playtime with their Rubik’s Cube, or one who you think has the potential to dig this retro toy, this documentary is totally for them. It follows the hype and dedication of Rubik’s Cube-solving champions, one of whom is early twentysomething Korean-American Max Park. As one of the best cubers of all time, he has broken world records and is still making all kinds of exciting strides in his career.

15. The Tiger’s Apprentice

Where to Watch: Paramount+ or Amazon Prime Video | Rating: PG

the tiger's apprentice aapi kids movies
Source: Paramount+

So many children are born with the feeling they’re part of something magical and bigger than themselves. In this fantastical film released this year (based on the book), a Chinese-American boy learns he is a part of the Guardians, a group of mystical beings who protect the universe. Taking his lead from a talking tiger, he’s on a mission to help save humanity from evil—a plot line kids certainly enjoy across many a superhero flick.

AAPI Movies for Big Kids

16. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Where to Watch: Netflix | Rating: TV-14

to all the boys i've loved before aapi kids movies
Source: Netflix

Based on novels of the same name, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, starring Lana Condor, has taken the entertainment world by storm. Lara Jean secretly writes love letters to the boys she has a crush on. Never to be sent, the letters serve as a personal outlet for her feelings. That is, until one day when her world is turned upside down as all five of her letters are mailed to the boys. When you can’t get enough, watch To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You and To All the Boys: Always and Forever on Netflix, too. 

17. Crazy Rich Asians

Where to Watch: Apple TV+ or Hulu | Rating: PG-13

cray rich asians aapi kids movies
Source: Warner Bros. Pictures

Excited to be accompanying her boyfriend on a trip to Singapore for a family wedding, Rachel was not prepared to find out how well off his family truly is. Not to mention, he’s also known as one of the country’s most eligible bachelors. Now she’s not only dealing with the pressure of meeting her boyfriend’s family for the first time, but also navigating jealous socialites and his disapproving mother. 

18. Isle of Dogs

Where to Watch: Disney+ | Rating: PG-13

isle of dogs aapi kids movies
Source: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Fans of dystopia will be engaged with this futuristic animated film set in Japan that features a boy named Atari, who is on a mission to find his lost dog, Spot. During his search, he discovers a deserted island whose only inhabitants are a group of exiled dogs. It’s a captivating story of loyalty, and that indescribably special bond between animals and humans. Since there’s a bit of a darker edge to the film as a whole, it’s better for older kids.

19. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video | Rating: PG-13

crouching tiger, hidden dragon aapi kids movies
Source: Sony Pictures Classics

Winner of four Oscars, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is the sensational story of a young Chinese warrior who has stolen a sacred sword, and the swirl of fates that come together in the owner’s pursuit to get it back. Bringing breathtaking martial arts scenes to life on the screen, this bold film about honor, love, and sacrifice will captivate older kids who are mature enough for its content (the martial arts in this case does bring some violence with it).  

20. Memoirs of a Geisha

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video | Rating: PG-13

memoirs of a geisha aapi kids movies
Source: Sony Pictures Releasing

Adapted from the best-selling book, this is a beautiful film that immerses you in the world of Japanese high society, and the stunning transformation it takes to become a revered geisha. Girls will particularly be able to relate to the skyhigh beauty standards and competitive mindset that often steals joy from the innocent fun of getting pretty just for pretty’s sake. The film does touch on sensuality, sexuality, and other mature themes, which is why it’s better suited for older kids and teens.   

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