Interested in joining in with us for the Reading Together: A Family Exploration Book Club, but have children too young to appreciate the chapter books we’ll be reading? While the “official” picture book for our theme is The Firekeeper’s Son, here are 19 other options in case you can’t find that one at your library, or if you read it and want more!
20 Korea-Themed Picture Books:
Asterisks mark ones that I especially enjoyed
I do love learning about history through picture books, and all three of these are well done – focusing one small aspects of history (often with a personal connection) to bring it to life.
- * The Firekeeper’s Son by Linda Sue Park, illustrated by Julie Downing
- * Peach Heaven by Yangsook Choi
- * The Royal Bee by Frances Park and Ginger Park, illustrations by Christopher Zhong-Yuan Zhang
Korean Immigrant or Korean-American Experiences
- * Good-Bye, 382 Shin Dang Dong by Frances Park and Ginger Park, illustrated by Yangsook Choi
- * The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
- Yunmi and Halmoni’s Trip by Sook Nyul Choi, illustrated by Karen Dugan
Based on Korean Folktales
The lack of asterisks here is perhaps based more on my usual indifference to folktales than a fair reflection on the quality of these books. If you’re a fan of folktale retellings, you may appreciate them more than I did.
- The Korean Cinderella by Shirley Climo, illustrated by Ruth Heller
- Maya and the Turtle: A Korean Fairy Tale by Soma Han and John C. Stickler, illustrated by Soma Han
- Mr. Pak Buys a Story by Carol Farley, illustrated by Benrei Huang
If you’re looking for picture books best for the youngest of readers, you may want to try one of these. The above books all are longer picture books, and none of my toddlers would have wanted to sit through them.
- * Bee-Bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park, illustrated by Ho Baek Lee
- * The Zoo by Suzy Lee
(Note: This is a really great book, but the Korean setting is incidental to the story, and if I weren’t looking for it I’d easily miss the limited hints about the setting that are provided. Do read the book, but unless you have no other options pick another one to support the theme. And, don’t feel like this is only for younger readers – the illustrations are detailed, and lead to fun discussions about the contrast between the text, and what the pictures show.)
- My Cat Copies Me by Yoon-duck Kwon
(Note: Another one where the setting is incidental to the story. It was originally published in Korean, and the illustration style and technique are apparently traditionally Korean, so you can always branch off on that if this is your only book option.)
- My Name Is Yoon by Helen Recorvits, illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska
- Waiting for Mama by Lee Tae-Jun, illustrated by Kim Dong-Seong
- The Green Frogs: A Korean Folktale by Yumi Heo
- Juna’s Jar by Jane Bahk illustrated by Felicia Hoshino
- Korean Children’s Favorite Stories by Kim So-Un, illustrated by Jeong Kyoung-Sim
- My First Book of Korean Words: An ABC Rhyming Book by Kyubyong Park and Henry J. Amen IV, illustrated by Aya Padron
- Tap Dancing on the Roof: Sijo (Poems) by Linda Sue Park, illustrations by Istvan Banyai
- Land of Morning Calm: Korean Culture Then and Now by John Stickler, illustrations by Soma Han
These all look promising, but I was unable to preview them, so I can’t comment on how they actually are.
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