Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Halmoni and the picnic

Halmoni and the Picnic
Author: Sook Nyul Choi
Illustrated by: Karen Dugan
Age Range: 5-8 years
Grade Range- Grades K-3

Summary: In this story, Halmoni and the Picnic, Halmoni (Korean word for 'grandma') is a Korean immigrant grandmother who goes on a trip with her granddaughter's class for the first time. Yunmi is afraid her Korean grandmother will never feel comfortable in the United States. She is too embarrassed to speak English and she finds the customs confusing. Even Yunmi's good-natured friends want to help Halmoni adjust. So when their teacher asks for a chaperone for a class picnic, Yunmi's friends volunteer Halmoni. Halmoni is thrilled and honored that the children asked for her. She even prepares a special picnic snack - kimbop (Korean sushi?? it's really tasty!!) and cold barley tea. But suddenly Yunmi feels apprehensive. Perhaps the other kids will think Halmoni is foreign and strange. They may not want to eat the unfamiliar kimbop. But Yunmi's worries prove to be unwarranted. Everyone enjoys Halmoni's delicious snack, and they even learn some Korean words. In turn, Halmoni says a few words in English. It is a realistic and charming immigrant story.

Reflections: I mainly chose this book because it shows the life of a Korean immigrant who moved to the United States. It's rare to find books on Korean-Americans, and it was something I could relate to on a personal level since both my parents are immigrants from Korea. I was able to empathize with the characters in this book and relate to the fears the little girl had. It was a really great book that teaches all readers about the traditions and culture of a different country. The illustrations were done in pencil and watercolor and they were accurate in their detail; such as the drawings of Halmoni's tradition Korean dress (known as a 'hanbok').

How would I use the book/curriculum units: This book can help introduce the student's own culture or traditions with other children in the class. There can be a unit study on different cultures where children can share where they're coming from. Having students bring in a special dish from their culture or family to share with the class or school. Sharing food is another way of actually experiencing the specific culture. This can be a great way of community building and appreciating the different cultures out there. Children can write storybooks about their own family. This can be another way of opening up discussion about different families, and how no one is the same.

Domains of Social Justice: 1) Domains of self-love and acceptance: Yunmi learns to appreciate and be proud of her Halmoni. She is no longer embarrassed about her Korean culture and traditions. Halmoni also feels grateful that she is appreciated amongst Yunmi's peers. She feels more at ease and is happy being in this new country. 2) Respect for Others: Yunmi, students, and Halmoni learn to appreciate and learn more about the culture and traditions of others. 4) Social Movements and Social Change: Students learn about the different food, clothing, and language that Halmoni grew up with. The students encouraged Halmoni to come to the picnic trip so they could get her to feel more comfortable. 5) Taking Social Action: Students actually try out new things and learn a little Korean and find out they actually like it. They are helping Halmoni adjust to life in the U.S., and at the same time they are learning about Halmoni's Korean culture.

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