As you can see, this list of kids books about Korea is a work in progress! We’re currently exploring the best books available, and we’d love your input. If you have a title you’d suggest including on our list of kids books about Korea, please share it with us!
We’ll be featuring a variety of titles on our list, from well known classics to popular bestsellers to lesser known titles that deserve a bigger audience. We’re also including books for a range of ages, from board books for babies and toddlers, to picture books for preschool and kindergarten age kids, to chapter books for early elementary age kids.
We’d love to hear any book suggestions you have—you can comment below or email us at [email protected].
Meet Danbi, the new girl at school!
Danbi is thrilled to start her new school in America. But a bit nervous too, for when she walks into the classroom, everything goes quiet. Everyone stares. Danbi wants to join in the dances and the games, but she doesn’t know the rules and just can’t get anything right. Luckily, she isn’t one to give up. With a spark of imagination, she makes up a new game and leads her classmates on a parade to remember! Danbi Leads the School Parade introduces readers to an irresistible new character. In this first story, she learns to navigate her two cultures and realizes that when you open your world to others, their world opens up to you.
Soe-in is a tiny child in a village full of large people. She struggles with completing chores due to her size, but she never gives up. One day, when the sky grows dark and full of smoke, Soe-in volunteers to travel into the tall mountains to investigate. She’s surprised to find a spirit tiger there and learn he has swallowed the sun by mistake! To help the spirit tiger and her village, Soe-in must come up with a clever idea to solve this gigantic problem. And while she’s at it, she just may prove that the smallest people often have the biggest, bravest hearts.
This is an enchanting and magical variant of the favorite fairy tale. Like the tree planted to honor her birth, Pear Blossom is beautiful, and the pride of her elderly mother and father. But then her mother dies, and her father remarries. Pear Blossom’s stepmother resents her new daughter’s beauty. Out of jealousy, she makes Pear Blossom perform impossible chores while her own daughter, Peony, watches idly. But fortunately, Pear Blossom is not alone. With the help of magical creatures—togkabis—she can accomplish each task, and triumph over her stepmother’s cruelty.
Featuring Bear and Hare from their Caldecott-Honor winning Tops & Bottoms, the Stevens sisters celebrate perseverance and teamwork in this laugh-out-loud story of triumph over trickery. Bear would rather sleep all day than work on his farm, and Fox knows just the kind of help he needs—a donkey! When Fox tricks Bear into buying a donkey egg, Bear can’t wait for it to hatch so he can meet his new friend. But donkeys don’t come from eggs! And when the “egg” finally opens, Bear gets a fruity surprise. Luckily, Bear doesn’t have to face disappointment alone . . . Hare is there to help!
Rice from Heaven is a true story about compassion and bravery as a young girl and her community in South Korea help deliver rice via balloons to the starving and oppressed people in North Korea. “We reach a place where mountains become a wall. A wall so high, no one dares to climb. Beyond that wall and across the sea live children just like me, except they do not have food to eat.” Yoori lives in South Korea and doesn’t know what North Korea is like, but her father (Appa) does. Appa grew up in North Korea, where he did not have enough food to eat. Starving, he fled to South Korea in search of a better life. Yoori doesn’t know how she can help as she’s only a little “grain of rice” herself, but Appa tells her that they can secretly help the starving people by sending special balloons that carry rice over the border. Villagers glare and grumble, and children protest feeding the enemy, but Yoori doesn’t back down. She has to help. People right over the border don’t have food. No rice, and no green fields. With renewed spirit, volunteers gather in groups, fill the balloons with air, and tie the Styrofoam containers filled with rice to the tails of the balloons. With a little push, the balloons soar up and over the border, carrying rice in the darkness of the night over to North Korea.
Pigling: A Cinderella Story - From a life filled with heartache and hardship, comes an unmatched beauty destined for a fairy-tale ending: Pear Blossom, a young Korean girl, leads a happy life with her parents―until her mother dies and her father remarries. Her new wicked stepmother and stepsister make Pear Blossom the victim of their cruelty. They give her the nickname Pigling, or little pig, and do everything they can to torture her. But soon, magical creatures come to Pear Blossom’s aid―and one day, the girl meets a handsome magistrate. Will Pear Blossom’s luck change for the better? Or is she destined to suffer at her stepfamily’s hands forever?
A Single Shard - In this Newbery Medal-winning book set in 12th century Korea, Tree-ear, a 13-year-old orphan, lives under a bridge in Ch’ulp’o, a potters’ village famed for delicate celadon ware. He has become fascinated with the potter’s craft; he wants nothing more than to watch master potter Min at work, and he dreams of making a pot of his own someday. When Min takes Tree-ear on as his helper, Tree-ear is elated — until he finds obstacles in his path: the backbreaking labor of digging and hauling clay, Min’s irascible temper, and his own ignorance. But Tree-ear is determined to prove himself — even if it means taking a long, solitary journey on foot to present Min’s work in the hope of a royal commission . . . even if it means arriving at the royal court with nothing to show but a single celadon shard.
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