Please welcome my guest author and illustrator today, Aram Kim!! I met Aram through Multicultural Children’s Book Day in 2017 when she was part of our #ReadYourWorld Book Jam 2018 that we do with The Children’s Book Council. She wrote a fantastic post on diverse picture books revolving around food (my favorite subject!).
Her second picture book, No Kimchi For Me!, really hit home for me because my own children had (not anymore!) an aversion to kimchi and could only eat it when my husband washed it down with water to make it less spicy for them.
A few months later, I saw a piece of art on Twitter that she created and I thought it would be perfect for our Multicultural Children’s Book Day poster. Aram graciously volunteered her time to make this wonderful poster for our event:
I’m thrilled to have her today with her latest picture book about the Korean martial art, TaeKwonDo!
We are giving away 2 copies of Let’s Go to TaeKwonDo! To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter at the bottom.
How about you? What are your favorite picture books on Koreans, Korean Americans, or Korean culture? Thanks for sharing!
New Children’s Picture Books on Koreans and Korean Americans by Aram Kim
It is exhilarating to find that there are more and more Korean and Korean American authors and illustrators actively publishing children’s picture books these recent years. When I search online for children’s picture books on Korea, however, lists of books that come up very often include outdated books or out-of-print books, many written by non-Korean authors. I am eager to let readers know that there are so many new books on Korea coming out on a wide range of topics written and illustrated by authors and illustrators with Korean heritage or with a deep knowledge and connection to Korea.
In the below list, I am introducing children’s picture books (age 3-8) about Korea that are published or will be published between 2020 and 2017.
I also would like to acknowledge that without authors and illustrators like Linda
Sue Park (Bee-bim Bop!), Yumi Heo (The Green Frogs: A Korean Folktale), Yangsook Choi (The Name Jar), Janet Wong (This Next New Year), Hyewon Yum (Twin’s Blanket), and other authors and illustrators who started writing and illustrating with Korean themes from a long time ago when the publishing scene was not as diverse as today, this wide range of picture books on Korea today would not have been possible. Their books are remaining classics that will never go out of style. Please enjoy old and new books alike.
Ocean Calls: A Haenyeo Mermaid Story by Tina Cho, illustrated by Jess X.Snow (August 2020)
A story about intergenerational bonding, finding courage, and connecting with the natural world features Dayeon and her grandma, who’s a haenyeo. Translated into Sea Woman, Haenyeo are female divers in Jeju Island of Korea. Their strong spirit, independence, and masterful skill under the sea are highly praised. [picture book, ages 5 and up]
Danbi Leads The School Parade by Anna Kim (July 2020)
Danbi starts her new school in America. Though things do not go very well at
first, Danbi doesn’t give up and uses her imagination to enchant her friends and leads them on a parade to remember. The beautiful cover image of Danbi certainly captures the attention. [picture book, ages 3 and up]
Let’s Go to Taekwondo! by Aram Kim (April 2020)
In this companion book to No Kimchi for Me!, Yoomi loves taekwondo but has a problem. She is afraid of breaking the board that is essential to get a yellow belt. While Yoomi struggles, grandma is also struggling to learn something new. Backmatter about taekwondo and Korean vocabulary is included. [picture book, ages 3 and up]
Our Favorite Day by Joowon Oh (2019)
Not particularly about Korean culture, but a heartwarming intergenerational connection between grandpa and granddaughter is masterfully depicted by Korean author/illustrator, using lovely watercolor collage illustrations. Asian common culture is beautifully weaved into pages. [picture book, ages 3 and up]
When Spring Comes to DMZ by Uk-Bae Lee (2019)
Originally published in Korea in 2010, this beautifully illustrated book gives readers a rare glimpse of a divided Korea’s history, people and nature. Stunning gatefold illustration and the backmatter about DMZ (demilitarized zone between North and South Korea) included. [picture book, ages 5 and up]
Hazel and Twig: The Birthday Fortune by Brenna Burns Yu (2018)
Korean mice family celebrates baby’s 1st birthday, introducing doljabi – popular Korean first birthday tradition. Two mice sisters are featured in hanbok, Korean traditional outfit, on the cover. Korean food and culture are seamlessly weaved into the story and illustrations. [picture book, ages 3 and up]
The Turtle Ship by Helena Ku Rhee, illustrated by Colleen Kong-Savage (2018)
The fictionalized story of well-known Korean historical hero Admiral Yi and his famous battleship is a masterful mix of myth and history and is stunningly illustrated with paper collage. Both topics are important parts of Korean history taught at schools in Korea. Backmatter included. [picture book, ages 5 and up]
Someone New by Anne Sibley O’Brien (2018)
The companion book of I’M NEW HERE which is written from perspectives of three new students each from Guatemala, Korea, and Somalia, this new book is written by three classmates who welcome them. Perfect to read along with I’M NEW HERE, it explores various emotions children experience. [picture book, ages 5 and up]
Where’s Halmoni? by Julie Kim (2017)
This beautiful and humorous graphic picture book is filled with Korean myth, folktale, and Korean pop culture-inspired easter eggs. Modern-day siblings travel into the Korean mythological world looking for their missing grandma and encounter many Korean mythical creatures. [picture book, ages 5 and up]
No Kimchi for Me! by Aram Kim (2017)
In this first story of Yoomi’s, she struggles to eat kimchi that she doesn’t like to prove to her older brothers that she is not a baby. After several failures, Yoomi is frustrated but grandma is there to help. They cook together using kimchi. Backmatter about kimchi and recipe for kimchi pancake included. [picture book, ages 3 and up]
2 Book Giveaway of Let’s Go to TaeKwonDo!
We are giving away 2 copies of Let’s Go to TaeKwonDo! To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter below. We can only mail to U.S. and AFO addresses.
Aram Kim is a writer and illustrator as well as a designer of picture books for children. She was born in Ohio, raised in South Korea, and now lives in Queens, NY, at the heart of diversity, happily surrounded by diverse food and culture. By day, she is a senior designer at Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group designing picture books and middle grade books. By all other time, she writes and illustrates.
Aram’s debut picture book Cat on the Bus was called a “beautifully designed visual work” by School Library Journal and included in the Children’s Choice Reading List 2017 by ILA/CBC, as well as New York Public Library’s summer reading list 2018. No Kimchi For Me!, about family, food, intergenerational connections, has universal themes, and at the same time celebrates Korean culture. It was selected as a Junior Library Guild selection as well as Bank Street’s Best Children’s Books of the Year 2018, and 2018 A Baker’s Dozen: The Best Children’s Books for Family Literacy by The Pennsylvania Center for the Book. Her next picture book, Let’s Go to Taekwondo! will be published on April 28, 2020. It’s Junior Library Selection. She is currently working on her next book to come out in spring 2021.
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p.s. Related posts:
Korean American Books for Kids
I’m half Chinese and Japanese and I married a Korean. My first multicultural book lists were on these three ethnicities as a way to show my children their heritage. The Korean American culture is so strong in America that this first post went viral.
This is the first post of mine ever to go viral.
I wanted to learn more about my husband’s family history so this is a very personal journey of discovery.
I don’t often do individual book reviews but finding this great Asian American book at the library made me want to post on it.
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.