Thematic Reading List: Celebrating Korean Americans


The United States is made up of people of all nationalities and backgrounds. One of these is Korean Americans, a group that accounts for about 0.6% of the United States population. Though this number is relatively small, this group is a vibrant part of the American tapestry. This book list includes both fiction and non-fiction titles for elementary school students about Korean-Americans and the blending of these two cultures.
Contributed by: Mary Lanni




9780316070386 Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream
By: Jenny Han
Illustrated by: Julia Kuo

Korean American fourth-grader Clara Lee longs to be Little Miss Apple Pie, and when her luck seems suddenly to change for the better, she overcomes her fear of public speaking and enters the competition.
9780670011797 Goyangi Means Cat
By: Christine McDonnell
Illustrated by: Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher

An understanding cat helps a young Korean girl adjust to her new home in America.
0395616263 Halmoni and the Picnic
By: Sook Nyul Choi
Illustrated by: Karen Dugan

A Korean American girl’s third grade class helps her newly arrived grandmother feel more comfortable with her new life in the United States.
9781580896122 I’m New Here
By: Anne Sibley O’Brien

Three children from other countries (Somalia, Guatemala, and Korea) struggle to adjust to their new home and school in the United States.
1534419314 I’m OK
By: Patti Kim

Ok, a Korean American boy, tries a get rich quick scheme of starting a hair braiding business and winning the school talent competition to hide the fact that he is struggling with the loss of his father and the financial hardships he and his mother must now bear.
9781600608537 Juna’s Jar
By: Jane Bahk
Illustrated by: Felicia Hoshino

After her best friend, Hector, moves away, Juna’s brother Minho tries to make her feel better by finding things to put in her special kimchi jar, and each night, whatever is in the jar takes her on a magical journey in search of Hector. Includes glossary.
9781534440098 Mindy Kim and the Yummy Seaweed Business
By: Lyla Lee
Illustrated by: Dung Ho

Mindy Kim wants to fit in at her new school, but her favorite lunch leads to scorn, then a thriving business, and finally big trouble.
9781524700768 My Grandpa’s Chair
By: Jiyeon Pak

A young girl notices that her grandfather is unhappy and thinks a new chair might cheer him up.
0763669717 A Piece of Home
By: Jeri Hanel Watts
Illustrated by: Hyewon Yum

When Hee Jun’s family moves from Korea to West Virginia he struggles to adjust to his new home. He can’t understand anything the teacher says, and even the sky seems smaller and darker. Hee Jun begins to learn English words and make friends on the playground. One day at a classmate’s house he sees a flower he knows from his garden in Korea: mugunghwa, or rose of Sharon. Hee Jun is happy to bring a shoot to his grandmother to plant a “piece of home” in their new garden.
1600604536 Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds
By: Paula Yoo
Illustrated by: Dom Lee

Profiles the childhood dreams and realities of the first Asian American to win an Olympic gold medal, achieved in the ten-meter platform diving event in 1948.
9780525554974 Stand Up, Yumi Chung!
By: Jessica Kim

When eleven-year-old Yumi Chung stumbles into a kids’ comedy camp she is mistaken for another student, so she decides to play the part.
9781524715700 When You Trap a Tiger
By: Tae Keller

When Lily, her sister Sam, and their mother move in with her sick grandmother, Lily traps a magical tiger and makes a deal with him to heal Halmoni.


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