Please welcome my guest blogger today, author and illustrator Aram Kim! Her newest book, No Kimchi for Me! is something that I can relate to as this is exactly how my oldest daughter, now 17, learned to love kimchi!
No Kimchi for Me! by Aram Kim
Yoomi hates stinky, spicy kimchi―the pickled cabbage condiment served at Korean meals. So her brothers call her a baby and refuse to play with her. Yoomi is determined to eat kimchi. She tries to disguise it by eating it on a cookie, on pizza, and in ice cream. But that doesn’t work. Then Grandma shows Yoomi how to make kimchi pancakes.
This story about family, food, and a six-year-old “coming of age” has universal themes, and at the same time celebrates Korean culture. A kimchi pancake recipe and other back matter are included. [picture book, ages 3 and up]
As for me, I’m half Japanese and half Chinese American but I married a Korean American. I was introduced to Korean food in college, including kimchi which I really enjoy, to the great amusement of my Korean mother-in-law!
Aram has created a picture book list for anyone who wants to celebrate or learn about Korean culture. I was thrilled that there are actually ten picture books on this topic!
Aram and I are giving away 3 SIGNED copies of No Kimchi for Me! Please fill out the Rafflecopter at the bottom to enter.
p.s. One more …
Good Fortune in a Wrapping Cloth by Joan Schoettler, illustrated by Jessica Lanan
Fans of Linda Sue Park’s historical fiction of ancient Korea — A Single Shard, The Kite Fighters, and Seesaw Girl — will enjoy this picture book about the Korean royal court. To be reunited with her mother who has been chosen to sew for the Korean king, Ji-Su decides she must also be chosen to be a seamstress for the royal court. Will her work be good enough to impress the Sanguiwon master? [advanced picture book, ages 5 and up]
p.p.s. I have a few Korean American book lists here:
Top 10 Korean American Books for Kids
15 Great Korean Folk Tales for Kids
10 Wonderful Picture Books Celebrating Korean Culture
1. My Name is Yoon by Helen Recorvits, illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska
The story shows how a little Korean girl who moved to America slowly and gradually opens up and embraces her new home. Narrated by the little girl Yoon, readers can see how she sees and feels the world around her. Gorgeous, and somewhat surreal illustrations are icing on the cake. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
2. Juna’s Jar by Jane Bahk, illustrated by Felicia Hoshino
Very sweet and charming story of a girl who deals with her best friend’s sudden departure by going on various imaginary adventures. Soft and beautiful illustrations accompany the text seamlessly. Very heartwarming and satisfying ending. [picture book, ages 5 and up]
3. Twin’s Blankets by Hyewon Yum
Nowhere in the story it says these two adorable twin girls are Korean. Hyewon Yum just very naturally and masterfully lets the beautiful Korean traditional patterns and colors melt into this universal sibling story. Two twin girls narrate the story, and you will be amazed by how perfectly this author understands the children’s world. [picture book, ages 3 and up]
4. Bee-bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park, illustrated by Ho Baek Lee
A simple story of a girl helping her mom making supper – bee-bim bop! – is cheerful and joyous. Linda Sue Park’s song-like text would roll off your tongue, and you might find yourself dancing to the rhythm. Illustrations without much adult presence make you feel like you are looking from the girl’s point of view. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
5. A Piece of Home by Jeri Watts, illustrated by Hyewon Yum
It’s not only kids who have a hard time adjusting to a new environment. This warm and delicate story of a three-generation family moving to West Virginia from South Korea depicts the struggles of a grandma, a boy, and a baby girl. It also shows how people around are willing to help and how it makes the transition a little easy. Very warm and sensitive story accompanied by Yum’s beautiful and charming illustrations is highly recommendable for any family who experiences the drastic transition, whatever the kind.
6. The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
Calling each other’s names and remembering them mean a lot to everybody, especially for children. I’ve seen a constant struggle Korean people have when they move to the U.S. because of their hard-to-pronounce-for-Americans names. Name Jar very smartly and sweetly shows how a Korean girl deals with this issue and solves it with her sweet friends’ support and help. [picture book, ages 3 and up]
7. Dear Juno by Soyoung Pak, illustrated by Susan Kathleen Hartung
Sometimes immigration means not being able to communicate with your grandmother or grandson because it builds a language barrier. Living in a different country, often, a new generation doesn’t learn their ancestor’s language. But in this warm story, Juno who resides in the U.S. and his grandma who lives in Korea communicates in their own way – by sending photos, flowers, and pictures. They understand each other perfectly even though they don’t write in the same language. [picture book, ages 3 and up]
8. New Cat by Yangsook Choi
Mr. Kim found New Cat at an animal shelter when he came to America from Korea because he “needed a friend as much as [the cat] had.” New Cat lives in a tofu factory Mr. Kim built ground up, and ends up saving it from the fire caused by a mouse. This story is very sweet and fun, at the same time even suspenseful. An unusual setting, a tofu factory, also adds extra fun. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
9. Sumi’s First Day of School Ever by Soyung Pak, illustrated by Joung Un Kim
Before her first day of school, Sumi’s mom teaches her how to say “My name is Sumi” in English, and they practice. Sumi is nervous, scared, and lonely in a new school. But as the first day goes by, she slowly relaxes, as she finds comfort and friendliness from the teacher and classmates. And she gets to say “My name is Sumi” to her new friend! As the story unfolds, readers feel the tension, nervousness, then the comfort, relaxation, and happiness along with Sumi. [picture book, ages 3 and up]
10. No Kimchi for Me! by Aram Kim
Yoomi likes Grandma’s Korean food but doesn’t like one thing – stinky spicy kimchi. Her older brothers tease Yoomi because they think only big kids can eat kimchi and Yoomi is a baby. Yoomi tries to prove that she is not a baby by eating kimchi but keeps failing until Grandma steps in to help. Together, they cook a yummy kimchi pancake that everyone can enjoy! [picture book, ages 3 and up]
3 Signed Book GIVEAWAY of No Kimchi for Me by Aram Kim
Aram and I are giving away 3 SIGNED copies of No Kimchi for Me! Please fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter. I can only mail to U.S. addresses or AFO boxes due to the high cost of shipping.
Aram Kim was born in Cincinnati, raised in South Korea, and currently lives in New York City. A graduate of the School of Visual Arts in New York, Aram is the author and illustrator of Cat on the Bus, called a “beautifully designed visual work” by School Library Journal and included in the ILA Children’s Choices 2017. Aram Kim’s new picture book, No Kimchi For Me!, about family, food, and a six-year-old “coming of age” has universal themes, and at the same time celebrates Korean culture. A Junior Library Guild selection.
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.
22 thoughts on “10 Picture Books Celebrating Korean Culture”
“What is your favorite children’s book with a Korean or Korean American character?” I’m not very knowledgeable about this–but I love the fact that Kim has brought so much fun and liveliness to her art here! Personally, I could never eat kimchi. I’m not sure I’ve ever even tried. I had friends at college who just had vats of it in their dorm room closets or wardrobes, sitting there…fermenting….
Wow, I didn’t realize kids brought kimchi to college!
So many great books, thank you for the list! I love Cat on the Bus, and can’t wait to read No Kimchi for Me!
Aram Kim is such a great author and illustrator!
I loved Aram’s Cat on the Bus, and am looking forward to Kimchi!! Thanks, Mia!!
I loved hearing the backstory on her book … that she waited for five years until the trend for Korean food was hot to sell her book manuscript.
I don’t have a favorite, which is why I need your list! My brother married an immigrant from Korea last year (she is now a US citizen, graduated from the Air Force Academy), so we have even more reasons to learn more about Korean culture and history!
No Kimchi For Me might be a perfect gift when they have kids! I know that my kids have taken a long time to eat kimchi and that the kimchi pancake was the way they were able to enjoy it!
I love the Name Jar. I think it is truly an amazing story.
It’s a book that I return to time and time again. It’s such a perfect book on many levels.
I love seeing diversity in books. when growing up, I used to grab up anything that was about a different country or anywhere different.
I love how open you are to learning about other cultures! You must love to travel as well?
I really like the middle grade superhero story Geeks, Girls and Secret Identities by Mike Jung.
Thanks for your great book recommendation. I need to read that one!
My son and I enjoy browsing through you book list’s. This list will be perfect for a Korea geography study!
I’m so glad that you are finding my lists helpful. That makes me so happy! Thank you!
As an elementary school librarian, we are always looking for picture books that reflect the growing diversity of our student body. Thank you so much for your book lists — they are a valuable resource!
Thanks so much for your kind words Stacye! You keep me going!
I am looking for- No Kimchi for Me!
That’s such a great picture book by Aram Kim! Yay!
Love Aram’s new book No Kimchi for Me !!! She is so talented. Happy MCBD!!!
I love her!