Celebrating AAPI month with Koinobori

Mosby Holmes and his grandmother Toni Pollard fold construction paper together to make a koinobori at the Malibu library in Malibu, Calif., on May 18, 2022. Photo by Trisha Anas.

Malibu Library hosts crafting event to highlight Asian American and Pacific Islander month

By Trisha Anas

Special to the Malibu Times

Upon entering the Malibu Library meeting room, a few kids and their guardians were greeted with colorful streamers, cardboard paper, markers and slideshow images of Japan.

Last Wednesday afternoon, the library held a “Make Your Own Koinobori” event to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander month. 

The intimate event had around 10 kids in attendance, but no shortage of smiles. 

Community Library Manager Melissa Stallings said that in addition to having the event, the library also puts up AAPI displays and books.

Stallings said that it was important to make sure the library offered cultural events.

“The library is really about representation, and I think people forget how many different types of materials and programs that we have,” she said. “It’s really good to highlight different areas of the collection and the people of the community. It’s part of the library’s role to bring that to people’s attention and to make it fun.”

On its website, the LA County Library said that the month is to celebrate the contributions and the culture of AAPIs.

The website also mentions that the month of May was chosen to celebrate Asian heritage because the first Japanese immigrated to the U.S. on May 7, 1843.

Koinobori are traditional Japanese windsocks shaped like carp fish. The word “Koi” means carp, while the word “Nobori” means banner or flag.

According to an article on the Koinobori Japan website (koinobori-japan.jp/koinobori.html), the carp symbolizes courage and strength in Japanese culture. 

The koinobori are made during Children’s Day on May 5 in the hope that the kids grow healthy and strong against any obstacle, just like how carp swim up a waterfall.

Library associate Ariel Carbin said that usually paint is used to decorate koinobori, but since it takes longer to dry, they’ve utilized crayons and markers instead.

Carbin had pre-made one of the koinobori to use as an example for attendees.

Carbin and Stallings also said that it’s been a long time since they’ve had in-person activities, and that they’re looking forward to doing more of these events.

Stallings said that the library is planning to have more summer activities, including “Smarty Pants Storytime” which is a school readiness event and “BambinO: An Opera for Babies.”

LA County Library also has a few more upcoming virtual AAPI meetings, to be found at lacountylibrary.org/asian-pacific-american-heritage-month, including a conversation with author/illustrator Salina Yoon, an LGBTQ+ ally event and a demonstration of traditional Japanese toys with author/illustrator Sunny Seki along with his wife.